Mr Ross Joins Millionaire Ranks With Maxxam Gold Cup Win

From Sam Houston Race Park
Mr Ross entered the prestigious ranks of racing's millionaire row as he won the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup, a handicap for 3-year-olds and upward on the main track at Sam Houston Race Park Saturday night. The 7-year-old gelding, owned by Don C. McNeill and trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel won his 16th lifetime start and added $60,000 to his previously earned $950,016, making him a millionaire.

Ridden tonight by his regular jockey Don Pettinger, Mr Ross settled off the pace, while early leader Storm Cruiser stormed off to a six-length lead. Mr Ross raced in fourth position along the backstretch as the field completed the first quarter in :22.89 and the half-mile in 46.46. The game veteran took control down the lane, drawing clear of second place finisher, Artic Boy by 1 ΒΌ lengths, completing the mile and an eighth contest in a time of 1:49.94.

"He would have passed Regis' show tonight," said Von Hemel. "It was a great race for us and thanks to Sam Houston. They treated us real nice here. We're just thrilled and very fortunate to make him a millionaire tonight."

Rider Don Pettinger has been aboard Mr Ross for his recent stakes wins at Remington Park and Oaklawn Park as well as his third place finish in the grade II Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. He has a tremendous amount of respect for the well-traveled gelding and was not worried about his performance tonight.

"There really wasn't a lot of pressure going into the race," said Pettinger. "Donnie prepared him well and basically I just had to go around there and stay out of some trouble. Mr Ross did it from there. He's a very game horse with a big heart and always tries hard."

Artic Boy, trained by Tony Richey for owner Royce G. Roberts was advancing nicely in the final furlong under Louisiana-based rider Gerard Melancon, but could not catch the winner.

"The winner ran against and beat some of best horses in country and Arctic Boy is a just turned four-year old," said Richey. "He ran a great race and has a good future. I'll talk with Gerard, we'll see how he rebounds out of this race and then decide where he will start next."

"We had a little traffic trouble in the turn, but when he got clear he made his move," said Melancon. "He seemed a little preoccupied with the lights during warm up but didn't let that bother him during the race."

Mr Ross, who was the heavily-bet favorite in the field of seven, returned $3.20 to win, $2.60 to place and $2.10 to show. The 7-2 exacta paid $10.00 and the 7-2-5 trifecta returned $80.60. Completing the order of finish were Storm Cruiser, L. A. Spider Legs, Rare Cure and Deception Island.

"His success is due to a good heart and good connections with Mr. McNeill and a crew that works with him at the barn; a lot of credit goes to everybody," added Von Hemel.