Mobile Bay guts out neck score in Maxxam Gold Cup

TwinSpires Staff

February 28th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Saturday night’s Maxxam Racing Festival featured four stakes highlighted by the running of the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup. A field of 11 was assembled for the 1 1/8-mile event and the winner was Mobile Bay.

This was the second stakes appearance at the current Sam Houston meet for Mobile Bay as the four-year-old ran on the turf in the John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) last month. He returned to his preferred main track surface and distance in the Maxxam Gold Cup and topped a very contentious field.

Jockey Francisco Torres guided the dark bay colt, sitting off the early pace set by Coup de Grace. Mobile Bay began to close at the top of the stretch and stuck his neck in front of Jessica’s Star while crossing the wire in 1:50.35.

“When you get these quality horses running for this money, you know they are going to show up,” Torres said. “They set some fast fractions, but that set up well for us. He carried me all the way around and had plenty left. I had total confidence in him.”

“Cisco gave him a great ride,” trainer Victor Arceneaux praised. “Whenever he started picking them up on the backside, I thought we would be in contention. He likes the mile and one-eighth distance and we are very excited!”

Mobile Bay added the Maxxam Gold Cup to a resume that already includes wins in last year’s Super Derby (G2), Zia Park Derby, Louisiana Legends Cheval S. and Lafayette S. The dark bay son of Lone Star Special also boasts placings in the Oklahoma Derby (G3), Louisiana Champions Day Classic and Super Derby Prelude. His record now stands at 15-7-3-3, $674,290.

Jessica’s Star made a very good comeback off a seven-month layoff to just miss in second for trainer Michael Stidham. The Magna Graduate five-year-old scratched out of last Saturday’s Mineshaft H. (G3) at Fair Grounds in favor of this spot, which was his first race since being vanned off in last June’s Cornhusker H. (G3) at Prairie Meadows.

“Mike Stidham is a great trainer and really had him ready,” jockey Mitchell Murrill said.  “We had a great trip and a good, successful run. We just got caught at the end.”

Hawaakom ran another neck behind in third while Coup De Grace just held fourth by that same margin over Freestyler.

In the other stakes events at Sam Houston on Saturday evening, Mexican Miss shipped in for trainer Joe Sharp to record a first stakes win in the $50,000 Jersey Lilly S.

Murrill was the winning pilot in a final time of 1:43.75 for 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf.

“When I came around the last turn, she just took off, like the nice mare she is,” the rider said.

Sharp felt his filly belonged in stakes company and was grateful to owner Brad Grady for his patience with the five-year-old mare.

“She showed that she was worth the wait,” Sharp stated.  “Brad was very patient and this was her first stakes win and deservedly so.”

Cassatt, the Larry Jones-trained even-money favorite, went to the early lead under Adrian Ramos and saw her seven-length advantage slowly reduced until Mexican Miss rallied for the neck score. Cassatt had a neck to spare over Expect Royalty on the line to be second but was disqualified and placed third for bearing out and bumping that rival in her turf bow.

"It just wasn’t meant to be," Jones shrugged. “What can you do?

Sharp returned two races later to finish one-two in the $50,000 Bucharest Turf Sprint.

American Sailor went to the lead under rider Miguel Mena and never looked back en route to a one-length win over stablemate El Botas. Claimed for $30,000 last out on February 7 at Fair Grounds, the four-year-old son of City Zip crossed the wire in :56.92 for five furlongs on the firm green.

“Joe told me that the horse was doing really well and to take advantage of his speed,” Mena said. “That’s what I did. I stayed out of his way; fast horses win races.”

“American Sailor is a fast horse and when you (claim) a horse from (trainer) Brad (Cox), you know they are well taken care of,” Sharp said. “He was pretty much lone speed in a five-furlong turf race, which is hard to find. El Botas is another horse that was a great claim; he’s a developing horse, and we’ll find the right spot for him.”

Completing the evening’s stakes action was Two Step Time in the $50,000 Texas Heritage S. under Robby Albarado.

Trainer Mike Maker shipped the son of Two Step Salsa from Florida in pursuit of his third lifetime win, and the dark bay got the job done by a neck over early dueling pacesetter Berniestrike. With a well-timed ride from Albarado, Two Step Time covered 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1.43.90.

Earlier on Saturday, Albarado and Maker teamed up at Fair Grounds to win the Black Gold S. with Oscar Nominated.

"I was glad I didn’t have to run them against each other," Maker grinned. "It was a good day!”

“This is such a nice turf course,” Albarado added. “I always love riding here and was glad to get the win. Two Step Time has some learning to do, but ran very well tonight.”

Two Step Time will make his next start at Turfway Park, according to Maker.

Mobile Bay photo courtesy of Sandra Beck/Coady Photography
Mexican Miss photo courtesy of Jack Coady/Coady Photography