Another Impressive Performance By Empressum Garners Track Record In Texas Classic Derby
Empressum, under jockey Rodrigo Vallejo, on his way to a new track record in the $393,415 Texas Classic Derby(G1) at Lone Star Park Saturday.

© Dustin Orona Photography
Another Impressive Performance By Empressum Garners Track Record In Texas Classic Derby

GRAND PRAIRIE, TX—NOVEMBER 27, 2021—Empressum secured year end championship honors Saturday night when he raced to a new track record at Lone Star Park in the $393,415 Texas Classic Derby(G1).

It was the ninth win in 10 starts this season for the son of America's leading sire Apollitical Jess. Empressum has won three Grade 1 derbies this year including the Rainbow QH Derby(G1), Ruidoso QH Derby(G1) and tonight's Texas Classic Derby(G1). The Oklahoma-bred also won the Remington Park Oklahoma-Bred Derby(RG2) at Remington Park last April.

His only loss came after a troubled start in the Grade 1 $929,465 All American Derby, where he was hoping to become only the fourth 3-Year-Old Triple Crown winner at Ruidoso Downs.

Under regular rider Rodrigo Vallejo, Empressum was best late tonight while completing the 440 yards in track record time of :21.030 seconds, a 108 speed index into a 5 mph headwind on a sloppy (sealed) racing surface. The previous 440 yard Lone Star Park track record of :21.075 seconds was set October 18, 2013 by Jody Pop Zoomer.

TQHA Executive Director Rob Wrestler presents the Texas Classic Derby stakes trophy to the winning connections of Empressum Saturday night at Lone Star Park.
© Dustin Orona Photography
Trainer M. Heath Taylor saddled the Oklahoma homebred for owner-breeders Steve Holt and Jeff Jones.

"I would like to dedicate this race to Steve Holt's daughter who is undergoing cancer treatment," Taylor said after the race. "Hope this can give her a little bit of something to cheer about.

"It takes a team effort," Taylor continued. "He beat the horse at Ruidoso that set the fastest time in the Champion of Champions trials, he beat the horse that won the Super Derby by three-lengths, and he broke a long standing track record at Ruidoso, I don't know how you could ask for anything more."

Also bred by Holt and Jones, from the First Down Dash mare Crazy Down Corona, Empressum has won 13 of 17 career starts and the $175,070 Texas Classic Derby winner's purse increased his lifetime mark to $1,032,129. He earned $969,755 in 2021.

"This is a very special horse," Holt said following the win.

Runner-up B Cause Im A Hero finished one-length back to earn $86,552 for second. Trainer Clinton Crawford saddled the Valiant Hero Oklahoma-bred for owners Larry Marcus and Nancy Wells. A finalist in the Ruidoso QH Invitational and All American QH Invitational at Ruidoso over the summer, B Cause Im A Hero has earned $197,555.

Bred by the Homer Hill Estate, from the Mr Jess Perry mare Jess B Mighty, B Cause Im A Hero is set to enter stud in 2022 at Double LL Farm in Bosque, New Mexico in 2022.

Pops First Lady, a daughter of Apollitical Jess, ran the biggest race of her career to finish a half-length back in third for owner Ramon Calvillo, Jr. Trainer Eric Long named jockey Bryan Candanosa to ride the sorrel filly who was second in the Firecracker Derby(G2) at Delta Downs last July.

Also a finalist in last year's Dash For Cash Futurity(G2) at Lone Star Park, Pops First Lady was bred in Texas by Gary Kurz and Double M Racing. She picked up $43,276 for her Texas Classic effort to bring her earnings total to $125,100 after 10 career starts.

Kj Sonny P, Apolliticalfastprize, Valiantt, Watch Him B Famous, Ima Catboy and Jess Admiral completed the field.

Additional reporting by Martha Claussen.

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About Lone Star Park
Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie; A major league sports entertainment attraction that features two exciting racing seasons annually. Over 700,000 guests visit our beautiful facility each year, which features a seven-level glass-enclosed Grandstand, highlighted by our 1,200-seat Silks Dining Room and our 48 luxurious Penthouse Suites, all overlooking the newest race track in Texas. Situated next to our Grandstand is the 36,000 square foot world-class Las Vegas-style Racebook and simulcast facility, Bar & Book, which features wagering on horse racing from around the world 7-days a week year-round.

Lone Star Park is located on Beltline Road, just ˝ mile north of I-30 in Grand Prairie, Texas. Visit for more information.