Runaway Wagon Undaunted By Downpour In Grade 2 Sam Houston Classic
© Sandra Beck / Coady Photography
Tommy Hays and Bobby Barnett's Runaway Wagon easily winning the Grade 2 Sam Houston Classic on Friday's card at Sam Houston Race Park.

By Martha Claussen

There was no denying Runaway Wagon in Friday night's feature at Sam Houston Race Park, the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2), at the “classic” distance of 440 yards.

Despite driving rain, the 4-year-old son of PYC PAINT YOUR WAGON broke sharply and drew off to a two-length victory under rider David Alvarez. Owned by Dr. Tommy Hays and Bobby J. Barnett, the Kansas-bred gelding is no stranger to overcoming adversity. Michelle Meiwes bred Runaway Wagon from the Dashin Bye mare Dashin Vike.

As a 2-year-old, he won his trial for the Sam Houston Futurity (G2) and finished third in an All American Futurity (G1) trial but did not qualify for either. He "tied up" following his trial at Ruidoso Downs and was in serious distress. Hays, a noted equine surgeon, tended to his runner and he was able to make a full recovery.

This was the second win in three starts this year by Runaway Wagon at Sam Houston Race Park. He stumbled out of the gate in the final of the $106,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) and finished third on April 20. Tonight, everything went his way and he crossed the wire in :21.526, earning a Speed Index of 106.

"He was perfect tonight," said Alvarez. "The rain did not bother him a bit; he is a wonderful horse."

Trainer Bobby Martinez watched the race from Delta Downs, where he qualified Jazz Under the Oaks for the $72,655 Louisiana-Bred Graduation Stakes.

“He ran a heck of a race," said Martinez of Runaway Wagons game victory. "We have so much faith in this horse. If he hadn't stumbled in his Challenge race, he would have won. I was real happy the way he ran tonight."

Lethal Volt under Sam Houston race Park's leading rider, Luis Vivanco, was a game second at odds of 13-1. Bar Struck ran third, followed by The Field Cricket. Post-time favorite, Mr Truly Uno ran fifth.

Sent off as the second betting choice, Runaway Wagon paid $11.40 for the win and improved his career record to five wins from 14 starts. He earned $30,000 for the Sam Houston Classic victory.

The remaining two races of Friday's 11-race card were canceled due to heavy rain, thunder and lightning.