Trials for the Sam Houston Maiden Classic Kick Off the 2011 American Quarter Horse Meet at SHRP on Friday

(Houston, Texas - Thursday, March 10, 2011) - Live American Quarter Horse racing returns to Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, March 11. The 30-day meeting will feature racing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Post time for Friday and Saturday is 7:00 p.m.; Sunday racing is set for 5:00 p.m. Three special afternoon post times of 1:00 p.m. will be run on April 24 (Easter Sunday), Saturday, May 7 (Kentucky Derby) and Sunday, May 8 (Mother's Day).

Friday night's card will feature nine trials for the Sam Houston Maiden Classic. The fastest ten qualifiers for the 350-yard event will advance to the final on Saturday, March 26.

The first stakes race of the American Quarter Horse meet is the $15,000 Silestone Stakes on Saturday, March 12. A field of eight accredited Texas-bred three-year-old fillies will compete, with Unknown Source installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. The daughter of Feature Mr Jess is owned by Alejandro Garza and trained by Jonathan Castaneda. She made three starts at Sam Houston last year and represented Texas in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship last November at Fair Grounds. Regular rider Julian Cantu has the call and will break from the rail. Neartica broke her maiden last July at Sam Houston and makes her first start since October 23 at Lone Star Park. Howdy O Toole ran against some tough company at Prairie Meadows and Fort Erie, Ontario, The daughter of Jody O Toole drew post position 4 and will be ridden by Jose Vega. The Silestone Stakes will be run as the ninth race on the Saturday evening program with an approximate post time of 10:28 p.m.

Solid Turnout for Training Races

On Wednesday, March 9, Sam Houston Race Park held 17 training races for horsemen seeking experience for their two-year-olds. Due to the tremendous interest in the Sam Houston Futurity (G2), trainers including Judd Kearl, Heath Taylor, John Buchanan, Bobby Touchet, Guy Hopkins, James Gerhards, Jorge Haddad all entered horses. Jerry Windham, Ted Abrams and Teddy Abrams, Jr. were among the owners evaluating their American Quarter Horses compete in the 250-yard training races.

Eric Johnston, vice president of racing, is preparing for a special afternoon post time on Friday, March 25 when as many as 20 trials could be run for the Sam Houston Futurity.

"We are pleased with the response from horsemen for both the Sam Houston Futurity and Derby," said Johnston. "Judging from the quality in yesterday's training races, we will have tremendous competition in our trials on March 25. It would not surprise me to see many of these two-year-olds headed to Ruidoso Downs for the All American Futurity."

Upcoming Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park

There are 15 stakes on the 2011 American Quarter Horse Stakes schedule, and Sam Houston Race Park will once again participate in the Bank of America Racing Challenge, the richest and most successful program in American Quarter Horse racing today. Stakes highlights include:

Sat., March 26 - Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G2)
Sat., April 2 - Merial Texas Distaff Challenge
Sat., April 9 - Sam Houston Futurity (G2) & Sam Houston Derby (G2)
Sat., April 16 - Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge
Sat., May 7 - Sam Houston Classic (G2)
Sat., May 14 - John Deere Juvenile Challenge (G3) and Adequan Texas Derby Challenge

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Offered This Weekend

The second of three future wagers on the 2011 Kentucky Derby will take place this weekend. Sam Houston Race Park will offer fans an opportunity to bet on their Derby contender beginning on Friday, March 11 at 11:00 a.m. (CT) through Sunday, March 13 at 5:00 p.m.

Uncle Mo, Brethren, Dialed In and Soldat are among the 23 horses listed as Derby candidates as well as a 24th betting interest, which will cover the mutuel field of all other three-year-old Thoroughbreds. There is a significant change in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager as exacta betting will be offered as part of that wager for the first time, with a minimum $2 wager accepted.

There will be a single pool for the Kentucky Oaks this weekend as well with win and exacta wagering. The third and final future wager pool for the Derby is set for April 1-3.

Real-time odds and other information is available at

Wiener Dog Races Slated for Saturday Night

Sam Houston Race Park has plenty of entertainment and promotional events planned beginning with the popular 4th annual Wiener Dog Races on Saturday, March 12, a Barbeque Event on April 2, the inaugural ESPN "Undie Run" and Crawfish Boil on April 16 and "Dog Day at the Park” slated for April 23. The first Saturday of May will feature live racing coupled with the simulcast of the 137th Kentucky Derby with Mint Juleps and the annual Kentucky Derby Hat Contest. May 8th is Mother’s Day where a special brunch will feature $2 Bloody Marys and Mimosas.

The 2011 American Quarter Horse continues through Sunday, May 15th with races every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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