01/20/2011 3:30PM

Chief of Affairs launches comeback in Spirit of Texas at Sam Houston

Coady Photograhy
Chief of Affairs launches his comeback Saturday night in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes at Sam Houston.

Chief of Affairs, Gold Coyote, and Goosey Moose will all launch comebacks Saturday night during the Texas Champions Day program at Sam Houston Race Park. The trio will meet in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas, which is one of seven restricted stakes worth a cumulative $400,000.

Texas Champions Day is the richest card of the Sam Houston meet that opened Friday. Others set to make an appearance on the program include Taptam, who will face males in the $100,000 Star of Texas, and Aces N Kings, who cuts back to one turn for the $50,000 Groovy.

Chief of Affairs launches what could be an outstanding season in the Spirit of Texas. He was on the cusp of developing into a top-tier sprinter last season but was derailed in May when he came out of his fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill Downs with a bone chip in one of his ankles. It has since been removed, and he has trained forwardly for his return.

“It looks as if he’s come back as good or better than last year as far his physical appearance and the way he’s breezed,” said Bret Calhoun, who trains Chief of Affairs. “We’re hoping he’ll be a top sprinter.”

Chief of Affairs, who twice last season put up a Beyer Speed Figure of 106, also won the Spirit of Texas in 2009. The Texas Champions Day program was not run last year because Sam Houston’s meet was condensed and the December program was moved to January. Cliff Berry has the mount on Chief of Affairs.

Gold Coyote, a 6-year-old stakes winner of $400,000 who had been retired in 2010, will be making his first start since finishing second in the 2009 Spirit of Texas. Goosey Moose, a 10-year-old stakes winner of nearly $600,000, also has not raced since December 2009. He had been sidelined by a strain to one of his suspensories, according to trainer Danny Pish.

Aces N Kings heads Groovy

Aces N Kings, who won 5 of 8 starts last year including stakes at Lone Star Park and Louisiana Downs, will make his first start against Texas-breds in the Groovy. He comes into the seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds off a third-place finish in the $250,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park on Dec. 11.

“The horse made a huge move, made a heck of a run,” said Caroline Dodwell, who trains Aces N Kings. “And Caleb’s Posse finished behind us, and he came back and won the [Smarty Jones] the other day at Oaklawn.”

Aces N Kings is the latest quality graduate from Diamond D Ranch, the Texas training center Dodwell owns and operates with her family. Rachel Alexandra received her early training there as a yearling as did Chief of Affairs, Taptam, and Gold Coyote.

◗ Taptam, who was second to Zenyatta in last year’s Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn, will be facing New Mexico invader Quiet Again in the Star of Texas at 1 1/16 miles. She will be making her first start since September. Taptam was offered at auction at Fasig-Tipton in November but did not sell, with the high bid being $225,000.

◗ Patty’s Pride makes a surface switch for the chance to race against Texas-breds for the first time in her career in the $50,000 Bara Lass. The filly, who is multiple stakes placed on turf, will be making just her second start on dirt in the seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.

◗ The Cat Who pulled a wire job last out when she upset multiple stakes winner Skedee, and she might be able to use those same kind of tactics with success in the $50,000 San Jacinto.

◗ Tin Top Cat will have to overcome a more than six-month layoff to improve her Sam Houston record to 3 for 3 in the $50,000 Yellow Rose. ◗ Skip a Smile, who was the runner-up in the $150,000 Zia Park Derby in December, meets past Grade 3 Connally Cup Turf winner Scrappy Roo in the $50,000 Richard King.