10/20/2011 2:52PM

Lone Star: Jess Tee Off tops trials for Texas Classic


Jess Tee Off will move closer to a sweep of Texas’s two richest races for his division Saturday night if he qualifies for the Grade 1, $1 million Texas Classic Quarter Horse Futurity. He is one of 126 entrants in the 13 trials that will be run at Lone Star Park. The horses with the 10 fastest times will advance to the finale Nov. 12.

Others set to start in Saturday night’s trials are High Rate of Return, the winner of the Grade 1 Heritage Place Futurity; Sixes Streak, winner of the Grade 1 Dash For Cash Futurity; and Jess Send Me and Tee Cos, who finished second and third in the Grade 1 All American Futurity.

Jess Tee Off won the second-richest 2-year-old race in Texas on April 9, when he fought for a neck win in the Grade 2, $600,000 Sam Houston Race Park Futurity. Following the race, his connections decided to freshen the horse with a year-end goal of making the state’s richest race, the Texas Classic. The trials will be the first start in six months for Jess Tee Off.

“It’s been tough to not run him, but we’re hoping it pays off,” said Judd Kearl, who trains Jess Tee Off for L B Ranch. “I expect him to run good. He’s worked twice up here, really worked good, and is doing super. The little horse, this spring, he really grew up and matured a lot. I hope we made the right decision.”

Jess Tee Off, who is undefeated in two starts, will run in the third race. Rodrigo Vallejo has the mount from post 6.

Kearl will have a total of 12 starters in the trials Saturday. Other top runners for the barn include the stakes-placed Wagon Empire, who he said is training forwardly. Kearl, 36, operates one of the most successful stables in Texas. He is a four-time title winner at Sam Houston who has also collected two training championships at Lone Star, in 2006 and 2007.

◗ The chaplaincy’s benefit golf tournament is Monday in Mansfield, Texas. For information, call Lone Star chaplain Sam Spence at (817) 909-2850.