03/27/2010 11:00PM

Fifteen Love closes strong in Maxxam Gold Cup


Fifteen Love has spent the bulk of his career on turf, but he is looking more and more like a serious dirt horse after winning his second straight race over Sam Houston Race Park's main track in the on Saturday night. Fifteen Love came into the 1 1/8-mile handicap off a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 101 earned in an allowance. He turned in another powerful race in the Maxxam, when he was content to let the pace go and then closed fast for a 1 1/2-length win over highweight Going Ballistic.

"He had a perfect trip," said Junior Chacaltana, who was aboard Fifteen Love for trainer Jerenesto Torrez. "I saw a little room, and he just took off."

Fifteen Love ($11.40) was a private purchase by Jose Luis Espinoza, who sent him to Texas. The horse, who was racing at Woodbine, had registered four of his five career wins on the grass leading up to the Maxxam. He settled about sixth in the race as Mad Flatter led the field through fractions of 23.16 seconds for the opening quarter, 46.53 for the half-mile, and 1:10.94 for six furlongs, pushed along by Numismatist. Fifteen Love overtook the leaders and held off a fast-closing Going Ballistic to cover the distance on a fast track in 1:50.50.

The winner, who is a 5-year-old by Point Given, earned $60,000 to push his career bankroll to $459,252.

Distaff: Bubbler romps by 12 1/4

Bubbler remained undefeated at Sam Houston when she drew out to a 12 1/4-length win in the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff. In her other start at the track, she won the $100,000 Gallery Furniture Distaff in December.

Bubbler ($3.80) raced with pacesetter Diva d'Oro through six furlongs in 1:12.78 before opening up on her rivals in the stretch. She covered the 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares in 1:44.13. Eddie Martin Jr. was aboard for Du-Zee Stables and trainer Bret Calhoun.

Bubbler, a 4-year-old by Distorted Humor, has now won 5 of 7 starts and $161,622.

Shine Softly finished second in the Distaff, 1 1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Return the Jewel.