No matter the differences in communication style between human and horse breeds, it wasn’t hard to know that no one enjoyed kicking off Lone Star Park’s 20th anniversary season like Supermason, who no doubt threw himself a party back in the stall on Thursday evening.
The 5-year-old gelding broke out of a winter slump by winning at his favorite track, where his appearances in the winner’s circle are becoming as familiar as the bugler making “First Call.”
Supermason repeated as champion of the $50,000, 6 1/2 furlongs Premiere Stakes on a clear and fast track, edging stablemate Bravura in a duel at the finish line. The race featured Texas-bred horses age three or older.
The victory was redemption as well for Supermason, who has been beaten twice by Bravura, including the last time out at Sam Houston Park.
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Both are trained by Bret Calhoun.
Supermason, who went off at 3 to 1, has earned more than $100,000 at Lone Star after collecting his fourth victory at the track and first since winning here in July. His eighth victory in 25 starts pushed his career earnings to almost $280,000.
“He’s an incredible horse,” said jockey Lindey Wade. “At Houston, he seemed a little off his game, but he still gave me a solid performance.
“He was a different horse [on Thursday]. So much liveliness to him. Jay [Severs, Calhoun’s assistant] knows how to get the best out of this horse. This horse loves a long one turn. He feels unstoppable. As a rider on the back, I’ve never felt that way about a horse.”
The mutuel earnings were modest as the favorites came in. A $2 bet paid $8.40 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. The exacta paid $17.40.
Bravura, a three-time stakes winner, including at Sam Houston in March, went off as the favorite at 3 to 5.
“Bravura has gotten the best of Supermason a couple of times, but he prevailed this time,” said owner Brad Grady, who named the horse for his young son, Mason.
“Supermason loves this track.”
Young Mason, seen afterward cradling the Premiere Stakes glass trophy as if it were a teddy bear, had no uncertainty about who the eventual winner would be.
Thursday was the first of 50 dates on the thoroughbred season schedule. One of the season’s biggest races is set for May 7, the Grade 3, $200,000 Steve Sexton Mile, formerly the Texas Mile.
Grady and his horse operation will be turning their attention to the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
The Covington native will have his first Derby horse entered, Girvin, who leads the Derby standings.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Grady, who has holdings in the oil and gas industry. “It’s hard to put into words. ... I don’t think it’s completely sunk in. It’s dumbfound luck to a country boy like me that my wife and me have a Derby horse.”
Grady is a pinhooker. That is, he buys horses to resell them.
Girvin was purchased at $130,000 as a yearling. Minor injuries foreclosed on selling him at a 2-year-old sale. Bobby Dodd, farm manager of Grady’s Grand Oaks farm in Florida, suggested trying to run him.
Dodd also broke in Supermason, who stalked Bravura early, turned up the pressure at the turn and took the lead down the stretch under Wade’s urging.
“He’s been very sound,” Grady said. “Jay and Bret have done a great job with him.”