01/17/2013 5:02PM

Sam Houston: Coyote Legend seeks Star of Texas repeat

Reed Palmer Photography
Coyote Legend earned 2012 Texas-bred horse of the year honors by winning the Assault Stakes at Lone Star Park and the Star of Texas at Sam Houston.

Fresh off wrapping up 2012 Texas-bred horse of the year honors, Coyote Legend will launch his 6-year-old season in Saturday night’s $100,000 Star of Texas at Sam Houston Race Park. He is the defending champ in the mile and a sixteenth race for older horses, which is the richest of four Texas-bred stakes on the card. The program is part of the opening weekend festivities at the Houston track.

Coyote Legend earned Texas’s top title by leading all Texas-bred runners in a points system administered by the Texas Thoroughbred Association. He swept the state’s most important dirt races for Texas-breds in 2012, the Assault at Lone Star Park in July and the Star of Texas last January. He enters this year’s Star of Texas off a nose win in a Remington Park allowance Dec. 7.

“We’ve been pointing for this race for a while,” said Bret Calhoun, who trains Coyote Legend for his breeder, Clarence Scharbauer  Jr.

Coyote Legend will face five others in the Star of Texas, including Halifax Flyer and Big Scrape, who finished one-two in a $25,000 optional claimer at Retama Park on Dec. 21. Coyote Legend has drawn the rail, one start after setting all of the pace from an inside gate at Remington. He is to be ridden by Cliff Berry.

“He’s very versatile,” Calhoun said of Coyote Legend. “If there’s speed in there, he can be sitting right off of them. If there’s not, he can take it to them. Cliff will make decisions away from the gate, based on what other people are doing, on how the race sets up the first quarter-mile.”

Calhoun and Berry also have top contenders in two other stakes Saturday night. Gold Element is the one to beat in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas, a six-furlong race for older horses. He owns the field’s best last-race Beyer Figure, a 96, for a runner-up effort in a Remington allowance Dec. 8. Earlier this year, the horse won the $50,000 Premiere at 6 1/2 furlongs at Lone Star. Gold Element is owned by Wimp Free Racing Stable.

Calhoun and Berry will also team with Worldventurer, the champion Texas-bred 2-year-old of 2012, in the $50,000 Groovy. The race will be run over seven furlongs. Worldventurer will be cutting back in distance after finishing third last out in the $300,000 Springboard Mile at Remington. The horse races for Wesley Melcher. Others set to start include Martys Wimbledon, who will be the first stakes starter for trainer George Bryant.

The card also features an appearance by Skip a Smile, the 2011 Texas-bred horse of the year. He leads a field of 11 in the $50,000 Richard King, a mile and an eighth turf race for older horses. The last time Skip a Smile ran on turf he won the $50,000 Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Retama on Nov. 10. Glen Murphy has the mount for Rose Mary Chandler and trainer Steve Asmussen.

Six pre-entered in Houston Ladies Classic

Grade 2 winners Brushed by a Star and Joyful Victory were among the six fillies and mares pre-entered in the inaugural $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic. The mile and a sixteenth race for fillies and mares is Jan. 26. Final entries for the Sam Houston race will be taken next Wednesday.

Others pre-entered are Grade 3 winners Summer Applause and She’s All In, and allowance winners Cheerleader and Lookinforachange. Bret Calhoun trains both Summer Applause and Cheerleader and said Summer Applause is a definite to start. He said she is to be ridden by Miguel Mena. The race will be Summer Applause’s first since finishing fourth in last year’s Kentucky Oaks.