09/05/2001 11:00PM

Shining Sky seeks to remain unbeaen


Undefeated Shining Sky, whose connections passed on the $1.9 million All American Futurity, will be favored to earn a large paycheck in the Grade 1, $300,900 Sam Houston Futurity on Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park.

Shining Sky's owners, Bubba Smith and Bill Fowler, who race as B and B Joint Ventures, elected to keep Shining Sky in Texas for the Sam Houston Futurity rather than pay the $50,000 supplemental fee to run in the All American Futurity trials. None of the seven All American Futurity supplements made the Labor Day finals.

Shining Sky ran his undefeated record to 5 for 5 in the Sam Houston Futurity trials when he raced to a half-length win in the sixth of nine trials Aug. 24. With Eddie Cox in the saddle, Shining Sky stopped the clock in 20.013 seconds for the 400 yards to be the fastest qualifier from the 81 trial participants.

"He loves to win," Cox said. "He had a little trouble in the beginning and tried a little too hard. Then he took off when he saw that other horse [runner-up Zookie Street]."

The third-ranked horse in the American Quarter Horse Association's 2-year-old poll, Shining Sky has gained his undefeated record against the strongest 2-year-old competition in Texas. Trainer Beverly McNeely has sent Shining Sky out for a half-length win in the Grade 3 American Airlines East Challenge and then a romping 1 1/2-length win in the Grade 1, $312,000 Retama Park Futurity.

Zookie Street, owned by Michael Taylor, will try to get past Shining Sky in the Sam Houston finals after finishing second in their trial. A son of the leading freshman sire Corona Cartel, Zookie Street rallied strongly in the trials, but came up a neck short of Shining Sky. Zookie Street's 20.072-second time for the 400 yards was the second-fastest qualifying time.

The second-place trial finish was Zookie Street's first defeat in three career starts for trainer Heath Taylor.

A Mighty Special Gal, runner-up in the Texas Quarter Horse Association Futurity, won her trial with the fourth-fastest time (20.275 seconds) for her third win from six starts.

Mr Bar Code goes after Derby

Also on Saturday's program, Mr Bar Code, winner of last year's Sam Houston Futurity, will be after a futurity-derby double when he runs in the Grade 2, $86,600 Sam Houston Derby over 440 yards.

After winning last year's Sam Houston Futurity, Mr Bar Code returned this year to run second in the Grade 1 Remington Park Derby. He finished a neck behind Apache Storm in their Sam Houston Derby trial.

Mr Bar Code's owners, trainer, and jockey will also be after a futurity-derby double, as Mr Bar Code has the same connections as Futurity favorite Shining Sky.

Sam Houston Race Park's leading trainer Janet VanBebber - who saddled four winners last Sunday night - will have two trial winners in the Sam Houston Derby.

VanBebber will send out Apache Storm off his win over Mr Bar Code and fastest qualifier Streakin Sin Tacha, the winner of 6 of 10 races.

for entries.

Subscribers, to purchase Past Performances.

Non-subscribers, to purchase Past Performances.