01/09/2004 12:00AM

McNairs get big results from small numbers


The Stonerside Stable of Robert and Janice McNair set up a small division of broodmares in Texas four years ago. This year, the mares accounted for four Texas-bred stakes winners, giving Stonerside a modern-day breeding record in Texas.

The McNairs' record will be recognized during the Texas Thoroughbred Association's annual awards banquet Saturday, Jan. 17 at Sam Houston Race Park. Robert McNair is a leading businessman in Houston, where he owns the NFL's Houston Texans.

The Stonerside stakes winners were Lx Commander, Expectacat, Catalissa, and Native Annie, who remained undefeated in two starts when she won a division of the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Sam Houston last month.

The McNairs have a 1,500-acre farm in Kentucky and currently keep five mares boarded in Texas.

"For not having that many mares in the state, I think it shows the quality of the mares that they do have, to come up with four stakes winners the second year they've been active here with a racing crop," said Dave Hooper, executive director of the TTA.

Hooper added that the McNairs' accomplishments are underscored by the breeders who are tied for second in the Texas-bred stakes winner category with three winners each: Keith Asmussen, Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, and Ed Few.

John Adger, the current TTA president who serves as bloodstock and racing manager for Stonerside, said the McNairs plan to send more mares to Texas. Stonerside is already a partner in five Texas-based stallions: Valid Expectations, who was the leading sire in Texas in 2003; Open Forum; Holzmeister; Exciting Story, and Truluck.

"The McNairs are from Houston, and they want to be supportive of the [Texas-bred program]," Adger said.

Native Annie, a daughter of Manzotti, became the McNairs' fourth Texas-bred stakes winner of the year when she won the Texas Stallion Stakes. She is trained by Michael Stidham.

"She's a big, fine-looking individual, and we think she has a nice future," said Adger. "She has a great mind. I think she proved it in the [Texas Stallion Stakes]. She was taken out of her game when she missed the break and was so far back. She had a lot of dirt kicked in her face but just ran a very professional race."

Native Annie defeated a field that included stakes winners Sago and Hay Lauren, who is the champion 2-year-old filly in Texas for 2003.

Adger said the probable next start for Native Annie will come in the $75,000 fillies division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Sam Houston on Feb. 14.

Stonerside's involvement in Texas is a boon for the state. The entire Stonerside operation consists of 62 quality broodmares, with the top homebred last year being Congaree, who is a finalist for Horse of the Year. Stonerside also bred The Cliff's Edge, a leading candidate for this year's Kentucky Derby.

In all, the McNairs have bred the winners of more than $9.3 million, while their racing operation has earned $17 million. They became involved in the Thoroughbred industry in 1994.

Got Koko is Texas horse of the year

Got Koko, who swept the La Canada series and upset Azeri in the Grade 2 Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup last year in California, will be honored as Texas-bred horse of the year during the TTA banquet next Saturday. She also will be honored as the champion filly or mare.

Horse of the year, as well as divisional champions for Texas, is determined by a points system that rewards finishes in stakes races for the calendar year.

Other divisional champions to be honored are Pioneer Boy, older horse; Call Me Lefty, 3-year-old; Lady Mallory, 3-year-old filly; There Goes Rocket, 2-year-old colt; and Hay Lauren, 2-year-old filly.

Sam Houston has planned three stakes to complement the awards ceremony, led by the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup. This is the first year the banquet is being held outside of Austin.

Speakers will include Chris Lincoln of ESPN and Carole Keeton Strayhorn, the Texas comptroller who has been a proponent of installing video lottery terminals at racetracks in Texas.