Trainer Larry Jones continues to pick the ideal spots for his stakes horses, and Saturday evening at Sam Houston Race Park, he took home two more trophies!
Jones shipped in Albano, a 4-year-old son of Istan, bred and owned by Brereton Jones. As a 3-year-old, the colt showed promise, winning the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes last summer at Monmouth Park and finishing second in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. Jones had options for his 2015 debut, but felt the timing of tonight's $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup was best.
Albano had no trouble with the mile and one-eighth distance of the Maxxam Gold Cup. Jockey Kerwin Clark was patient with the Kentucky-bred, guiding him through the first quarter-mile in :24.61 and the half-mile in :50.41. Unpressured throughout, he galloped home in 1.52.24, with a margin of three lengths over 30-1 shot, Endurance.
It was a proud celebration for Clark and Jones and a first time visit to Sam Houston by prominent Kentuckian, Brereton Jones.
“I knew they were in trouble after the first quarter mile,” said Clark. “I've always liked this colt. He was my 'in' to Larry Jones' barn last year, so he will always have a special place in my heart. Larry had him ready to go and, what can I say? It's just a privilege and a pleasure to be riding for these guys.”
Jones was aiming for the Mineshaft last weekend, but just didn't see the “sparkle” in Albano, and opted to ship him to Houston for the Maxxam.
“He ran very well tonight, but it just showed what a poor training job I did on his last race,” said Jones with a smile, referring to his third-place finish at Fair Grounds on January 17. “It's great to see him at the top of his game. I owe Governor Jones a lot of credit. He doesn't put the pressure on me. He tells me that when the horses are right, let's run them.
“It's wonderful to be here with Kerwin, Larry and Albano,” said Brereton Jones .”The Good Lord has blessed us and we are grateful. I must admit that seeing such a nice performance from this homebred brought a tear to my eye.”
Iram Diego rallied for second aboard Endurance, following by C J 's Awesome, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred trained by Ken McPeek, who ran second last year with Frac Daddy. F J Uncle Vic, ran fourth, followed by Hattaash and Woodman's Luck.
Albano ($2.80), earned $60,000 this evening, which sent his career earnings over the $600,000 mark. Jones is pointing Albano to the Grade 2, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds.
The $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park has had a rich tradition since its first running in 1994. Past champions of the mile and one-eighth main track feature include Sir Cherokee, Valhol, Student Council and Alumni Hall. The 2014 Maxxam champion, Red Rifle went on to win the Yankee Affair Stakes at Belmont Park as well as the Grade 2, Hawthorne Gold Cup in 2014.
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