02/28/2016 8:50AM

Mobile Bay rebounds in Maxxam Gold Cup

Sandra Beck/Coady Photography
Mobile Bay, under Francisco Torres, rallies to defeat Jessica's Star by a neck in the 1 1/8-mile Maxxam Gold Cup.

Mobile Bay was returning to both the surface and distance of his most significant wins on Saturday night when he closed from last for a neck victory over Jessica’s Star in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park. It was another neck back in third to Haawakom.

The Maxxam Gold Cup, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race for 4-year-olds and up, was the richest of four stakes on the card Saturday.

Mobile Bay won last year’s Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs and Zia Park Derby in New Mexico, both main-track races at the distance of the Maxxam Gold Cup. He came into Saturday night’s race off an eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Connally run over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Sam Houston.

Mobile Bay ($10.80) settled off the pace as Coup De Grace and Jessica’s Star were prominent through fractions of 24.08 seconds for the opening quarter-miler, 48.43 for the half-mile, and 1:12.81 for six furlongs. Mobile Bay began to advance and came rolling past horses through the lane to cover the distance on a track rated fast in 1:50.35.

“He kept picking horses up and grinding to the end,” said winning trainer Victor Arceneaux.

Francisco Torres rode the winner for Tigertail Ranch.

Mobile Bay won the fifth stakes race of his career and earned $60,000. Overall, he has won 7 of 15 starts and $674,290. Mobile Bay is a son of Lone Star Special, and he was bred in Louisiana by Tigertail Ranch.

Stakes double for Sharp

Trainer Joe Sharp had a stakes double on the card with Mexican Miss in the $50,000 Jersey Lilly and American Sailor in the $50,000 Bucharest.

Mexican Miss ($23.80) closed fast to win the Jersey Lilly by a neck over even-money favorite Cassatt, who after a stewards' inquiry was disqualified from second and placed third. The action elevated third-place finisher Expect Royalty to second.

Mitchell Murrill rode Mexican Miss for Brad Grady. 

"She just took off like she's supposed to," Murrill said of the stretch run from Mexican Miss.

Mexican Miss covered 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.75. She is a daughter of More Than Ready.

Cassatt was well clear of the field through early fractions of 24.38 for the opening quarter, 48.52 for the half-mile, and 1:13.35 for six furlongs. She fought on to the wire when challenged in the stretch, and in the very late stages was ruled to have impeded Expect Royalty. Cassatt was making her turf debut Saturday.

American Sailor ($11.40) was a factor from the start in the Bucharest, setting fractions of 22.21 for the opening quarter and 44.88 for the half-mile before covering five-eighths on firm turf in 56.92. He was a length winner over fellow Sharp trainee El Botas.

Miguel Mena was aboard the winner for Newport Stables. American Sailor is a son of City Zip.

Two Step Time ($7.80) closed with good energy to win the $50,000 Texas Heritage for 3-year-olds by a neck over Berniestrike. The winner covered 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:43.90. Robby Albarado was aboard Two Step Time for Get Away Farm and trainer Mike Maker. The winner is by Two Step Salsa.