03/01/2012 1:57PM

Sam Houston: Maxxam Gold Cup distance ideal for Cease


Cease has compiled an impeccable record at 1 1/8 miles, and on Saturday night he will be returning to that distance for the $150,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park. Cease is one of eight older horses set to start in what is the richest main-track race of the meet. Others include Coyote Legend, a winner of four of his last five starts, and Gleam of Hope, who has placed in three stakes in his last four starts, his latest races coming at Fair Grounds.

Cease has made four starts at 1 1/8 miles and has finished first in three of them, disqualified from one of the wins for impeding a rival. In his other start at the distance, Cease missed by a half-length in what was his career debut, at Keeneland in October 2010. His best career Beyer Figure, a 102, and his largest win margin, 13 1/2 lengths, were both achieved in a 1 1/8-mile race last August at Saratoga.

“He’s shown nice form going a mile and an eighth, and a mile and a quarter,” said Al Stall Jr., who trains Cease for the horse’s breeders, Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.

Cease made his stakes debut at 1 1/4 miles last October, and finished third by a half-length in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup. The race served as his springboard to the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Churchill Downs. Cease finished fifth in the 1 3/4-mile race run Nov. 5. He was then freshened and returned to action at Fair Grounds on Feb. 16, in a mile-and-70-yard allowance. Cease finished second, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Tonto Fontenot.

“He caught a real sharp horse of Bobby Barnett’s and he cut the corner on us,” Stall said. “I thought he ran well. He ran his race. It wasn’t bad race in defeat, and I hope it served its purpose for this weekend.”

Stall said a concern is that Cease could be running back a “hair quick” for a horse making his second start following a layoff. Glen Murphy has the mount on Cease, who will break from post 4.

“He lays close,” said Stall.

Cease could get a tracking trip behind Coyote Legend and J J’s Indy. Coyote Legend is 3 for 3 over the main track at Sam Houston, his latest score coming in January in the $100,000 Star of Texas. Bret Calhoun, who trains the horse, said Coyote Legend’s record over the surface as well as his general familiarity with Sam Houston were reasons to target the Maxxam.

“He’s already been through the night racing at that track, so it’s kind of a good fit,” Calhoun said.

Chris Landeros has the mount on Coyote Legend from post 2.