Updated on 09/16/2011 9:50AM

Bumping fails to derail Continental Red

Continental Red and Pat Valenzuela win the Great State Challenge Classic by a length after being involved in a bumping incident in upper stretch.

HOUSTON - Continental Red survived a stewards' inquiry after surging past Pass Rush to win the $210,500 , giving California-breds their second victory in the inaugural six-race series run Saturday at Sam Houston Race Park.

Continental Red, ridden by Pat Valenzuela, stalked the pace in the 1 1/8-mile Classic before finally getting past front-running Pass Rush by a length in the final yards. In midstretch, Continental Red had bumped soundly with eventual third-place finisher Pickupspeed, but the Sam Houston stewards ruled the incident was not enough to warrant a disqualification.

"My horse came over into him, then the other horse hit my back end and turned us into him, making it look worse than it was," said Valenzuela. "I'm glad the stewards agreed with me."

Continental Red, owned by Sharon Fitzpatrick and trained by Ian Jory, returned $6.20 as the second choice after finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.34 over a fast track. Pass Rush, the 5-2 third choice, finished a half-length ahead of third-place Pickupspeed in a field of six.

Continental Red had finished a close second in his previous start, the Nov. 2 Cal Cup Classic. A 6-year-old gelding by Flying Continental, he now has won 6 of 46 career starts. His Classic win followed one earlier in the day by another California-bred, Crackup in the Juvenile.

Show prices in the Classic were inordinately high because the Steve Asmussen-trained entry of Big Numbers and Easyfromthegitgo finished fourth and fifth, respectively, after being sent away the 4-5 favorite. From a show pool of $49,725, the amount bet on the Asmussen duo was $43,069, leading to respective show mutuels of $13, $14.60, and $22.60 on the top three finishers.

The Classic was the highlight of the inaugural Great State Challenge, designed as a competition among state-bred programs; a maximum of two starters from any state could start in any race. Horses bred in California and Florida won two races each, but based on finishes in all six races, Kentucky (36 points) was the leading earner in the Great State scoring system, in which horses earned 10-8-6-4-2 points for finishing first through fifth and one point for any finish sixth or lower. In each race, only the points earned by the highest finishing horse from a state are counted.

Florida was second with 34 points, while Maryland (29) was third and California (21) was fourth.

A proposition wager on the points system was canceled earlier in the week.

Estimated ontrack attendance for the Great State, which was heavily promoted in the Houston area, was 12,000. Handle for the card Saturday was $5,083,692, which establised a Sam Houston record. The track's previous best handle on its live races was $3,557,018, set on Dec. 10, 1999 on Texas Champions Day.