12/07/2008 12:00AM

Waco Hug takes Star of Texas in stakes debut


Waco Hug was running for a claiming price of $7,500 less than two months ago, but on Saturday night his stock went way up as he became a stakes winner in the $75,000 Star of Texas. The 1 1/16-mile race was the richest of eight statebred stakes worth $425,000 on the Texas Champions Day program. The card is a mainstay at Sam Houston Race Park, but it was held at Retama Park this year because the Sam Houston meet was canceled due to damage from Hurricane Ike.

Waco Hug ($11.20) was in his element at Retama, picking up his third straight win at the San Antonio-area track in the Star of Texas. He began his streak with a win over $7,500 conditioned claimers on Oct. 10, then proceeded to win a first-level allowance for Texas-breds by 12 1/2 lengths on Oct. 17.

Waco Hug then made his stakes debut in the Star of Texas, against a field that included the race’s two-time defending champ, Sandburr. The eventual winner trailed the field early, then rallied for a three-quarter-length victory over half-brothers Taksent, who held second, and Sandburr, who stalked the pace and finished third. Waco Hug covered the distance on a track rated fast in 1:48.14.

Jose Figueroa rode the winner for Tigertail Ranch and trainer Danny Pish. Waco Hug is a 3-year-old gelding by Waco Connection.

Quinonez, Tejera each win three stakes

Jockeys Luis Quinonez and Eguard Tejera each won three stakes on the undercard, with Quinonez striking first with Stealth Cat ($2.80) in the $50,000 Yellow Rose for fillies and mares at six furlongs. She won the night’s first stakes by 12 1/2 lengths for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Quinonez and Asmussen also teamed to win the $50,000 Bara Lass with Tiffany Royal ($4.60). She powered to a 3 1/2-length win over Valid Code in the seven-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies. It was the seventh Bara Lass win for Asmussen.

Quinonez’s other winner on the night came with Pretty Squall ($4.20), who wired the field by 3 1/4 lengths in the $50,000 San Jacinto. She is trained by Morris Nicks.

Tejera upset three favorites on the night, his first being with Seneca Summer ($7.20) in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas. The horse picked up his third straight win when he stalked and pounced for a three-quarter-length score over favorite Snuck By. Gary Thomas trains Seneca Summer.

Tejera and Valid Stripes ($34) drew out to an 11-length win over favorite He’s Boy Wonder in the $50,000 Groovy for 2-year-olds. Tejera rode the winner for trainer Amos Laborde.

Tejera’s final stakes winner on the night came with Rapid Squall ($5.20), who was prominent throughout for a one-length win over favorite Ablaze With Spirit in the $50,000 Richard King. Val Ray Foster trains Rapid Squall.

* Taptam ($5.40) drove to a half-length win over pacesetter Formal Flyer in the $50,000 Martanza for fillies and mares at a mile. Cliff Berry rode the winner for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

* Handle on the 10-race program from all sources was $1,0276,551.