10/25/2005 11:00PM

Calhoun figures to be strong at Sam Houston


Trainer Bret Calhoun comes into the Sam Houston Race Park meet rolling. A race he won Tuesday night at Remington Park gave him 156 for the year, tying his personal best, and pushed him to seventh place in wins among all trainers in North America.

For the Sam Houston meet, Calhoun will have a full barn. He also has divisions at Remington, where he leads the standings, and Hawthorne, where he is tied for second leading trainer. Calhoun has won races at a 24 percent clip in 2005 and over the next two months figures to crush his record for wins in a year, which was set in 2003.

Saturday, he was coordinating shipping plans to Sam Houston.

"We'll be set up there by Wednesday," said Calhoun.

His first starter at the meet is Grugly, a leading contender in the seventh, an entry-level allowance on turf for horses bred in Texas.

Other trainers with horses at the meet include Steve Asmussen, the leading trainer in wins in North America who is the defending champ at Sam Houston; Danny Pish, who picked up his seventh consecutive Retama Park title Oct. 15; and John Locke, runner-up in the standings at Retama.

New faces include Keith Desormeaux, Cecil Decker Jr., and Cheryl Asmussen, wife of former jockey Cash Asmussen.

Native Annie retired to Stonerside

Native Annie, who was voted horse of the meet last season at Sam Houston, has been retired, said John Adger, the racing and bloodstock manager for the Stonerside stable of Houston residents Robert and Janice McNair. She will be bred to a Kentucky stallion and in the future could go to Valid Expectations, the leading stallion in Texas.

Native Annie, who won six stakes and $336,492, had been pointing for a start in Saturday night's $40,000 Houston Chronicle Stakes at Sam Houston.

"She kind of aggravated an old injury, and we didn't want to take any chances with her, so we sent her back to the farm," said Adger.

Native Annie is based at Stonerside in Kentucky and will eventually move to Texas. Adger said initial breeding plans are still being formulated for Native Annie, who last year at 3 was named champion filly of her division by the Texas Thoroughbred Association.

"She'll be bred to a really nice stallion," said Adger, "more than likely a proven horse, a horse that is doing well at stud. We think a lot of her and think she can become an excellent broodmare."

On the racetrack, consistency defined Native Annie, who won 8 of 16 starts.

Native Annie is trained by Michael Stidham, who will have a number of horses for Stonerside at the Sam Houston meet, said Adger. Among them are Thunder Mission, a stakes-placed 3-year-old by Pulpit; Lissa's Star, a 2-year-old half-brother to multiple stakes winner Catalissa; and Honey Gold, 2-year-old daughter of Touch Gold.

Murphy back at Sam Houston

Jockey Glen Murphy is back at Sam Houston after a one-year absence and has been named on several horses over the weekend, including charges from the barns of Steve Asmussen and Calhoun.

The leading jockey here in 1999, Murphy invades from Remington, where he ranked fourth in the standings. He returned to Texas on Tuesday and plans to ride at Lone Star Park in Dallas later this year. Murphy will be represented by Scott Hare.

"We're looking forward to it," Murphy said of Sam Houston. "We'll just try to get a little momentum going for Dallas, and hopefully it will be a good meet."

Other riders making for a deep colony at Sam Houston include Jeremy Beasley, who won the title last year; Larry Taylor, who won the title at the Retama Park; Terry Stanton; Don Simington; Ted Gondron; and Bobby Walker Jr.

Quincy Hamilton, who is in a dog fight with Cliff Berry for the title at Remington, said he will join the Sam Houston ranks at the close of Remington.

* A memorial service for Mark Page, the second-leading jockey during the Quarter Horse meet, will be held at Sam Houston at 1 p.m. Friday. Page died Oct. 20 at age 45.

* Purses will average about $92,000 a day this meet at Sam Houston.