Trials for the Sam Houston Derby and Futurity Highlight This Weekend's Racing at Sam Houston Race Park

(Houston, Texas - Wednesday, March 28, 2012) - One of the busiest weekends of the 2012 American Quarter Horse meet at Sam Houston Race Park will have no shortage of racing competition and excitement. Friday night's card includes seven trials for the Sam Houston Derby (G3) as well as the second stakes of the meet, the $15,000 Ricoh Stakes.

Seven Trials for the Sam Houston Derby (G3) on Friday, March 30

In the fifth race (the fourth Sam Houston Derby trial) of the Friday night card, Triple Vodka will attempt to keep his undefeated status intact for owner Renee Spiller. The 3-year-old son of Tres Seis, broke his maiden last May at Sam Houston and followed that up with a trial victory and win in the $400,000 TQHA Sale Futurity on July 31 at Retama Park. Triple Vodka is trained by Angel Sanchez and will be ridden by J R Ramirez.

Race seven will feature Silver For Me, the winner of the $500,000 Ruidoso Futurity. The Leon Bard-trainee ran second in last April's $25,000 Sam Houston Futurity Consolation Stakes before heading to Ruidoso Downs. West coast rider, Freddie Martinez will pilot the gelded son of Corona for Me who has career earnings of $267,797. The top ten qualifiers will return for the final on Saturday, April 14 with an estimated purse of $181,000.

Ricoh Stakes to be Contested at 550 Yards

A field of capable veterans will compete in the 550-yard Ricoh Stakes. Shineys Magic T, owned by Margaret White and trained by Jesse Yoakum, is the 7-5 morning-line favorite. The 6-year-old Texas-bred won the 870-yard Governors' Cup Marathon at Sam Houston last year, but has six wins at the distance of 550 yards. Jerry Lee Yoakum will ride and break from post position three. La Esterlina, drew the far outside post with last year's leading rider, Luis Vivanco in the irons. The 4-year-old mare is trained by Abel Morin and will be making her 2012 debut and first attempt at the distance. J C My Diamond Man drew post two for trainer Brian Stroud. The 7-year-old son of Streakin La Jolla has won eight starts at Sam Houston and will be ridden by Alfonso Lujan.

The Ricoh Stakes will run as the ninth race of the Friday night program with an estimated post time of 10:28 p.m. (CT).

Fifteen Trials Set for the Sam Houston Futurity on Saturday

The weekend continues on Saturday, March 31 with a special post time of 2:30 p.m. The entire card will be dedicated to trials for the Sam Houston Futurity (G2). There will be 15 trials run, with the ten fastest 2-year-olds advancing to the final on Saturday, April 14.

It will be an exceptionally busy day for many trainers, especially Judd Kearl who will saddle 14 entrants for the trials of the Sam Houston Futurity. Cindi Keeton has 11 runners and horsemen Jorge Haddad, Eusevio Huitron, Kenny Roberts and Bobby Touchet all have multiple horses to saddle.

The majority of the 141 entered 2-year-olds will be making their racing debuts, with each potentially showcasing a precocious and potential American Quarter Horse rising star.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Offered This Weekend

The third and final of three future wagers on the 2012 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 30 at 11:00 a.m. (CT) through Sunday, April 1 at 5:00 p.m. 

Union Rags, Hansen, Secret Circle and Creative Cause 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 3-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.

Real-time odds and other information is available at

Stellar Simulcast Menu at Sam Houston Race Park This Saturday

Houston racing fans are invited to come early and stay throughout the day for some of the best simulcast racing of the year. The morning begins with the $27 million Dubai World Cup. Eight stakes will feature the stars of international Thoroughbred racing with American hopefuls Game On Dude and Royal Delta entered in the Grade 1, $10 million Dubai World Cup, simulcast from Meydan Racecourse on Saturday, March 31.

Saturday afternoon's action includes one of the key Kentucky Derby prep races, the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. The seven-horse field showcases the highly regarded Union Rags and rising star El Padrino. 

Papaw Bodie to Run at Fair Grounds on Sunday

Sunday is closing day for the 140th Thoroughbred racing season at Fair Grounds. Papaw Bodie, winner of the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston on January 28, will run in the Grade 2, $400,000  Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap. The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred owned by Connie M. Apostelos will be seeking his fourth consecutive win for trainer Mike Maker. Fair Grounds' defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik, who made her first visit to Sam Houston in January, will ride Papaw Bodie in the mile and one-eighth turf feature. The card will also include the running of the Grade 2, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, with defending champion Mission Impazible facing Pants On Fire in the nine furlong main track stakes. For more information on simulcast racing at Sam Houston Race Park, visit

Houstonian Jake Ballis Has Possible Derby Prospect, Cigar Street

Houston Thoroughbred owner Jake Ballis had a dream almost come true when his 3-year-old Join in the Dance competed in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky-bred Sky Mesa colt had the lead in classic test for the first mile at Churchill Downs, finishing a respectable seventh to Mine That Bird.

Ballis played high school basketball in Houston with top NBA star Rashard Lewis. They are co-owners of Cigar Street, who will compete in Sunday's Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Ballis purchased the son of Street Sense for $130,000 at the Keeneland Sale, and has been pleased at his progress this year under trainer Steve Margolis.

"He had some shin problems, so we had to be patient," said Ballis. "His fifth-place finish in his six furlong debut didn't disappoint me. We were waiting to stretch him out."

On March 10 in a $46,000 maiden special weight at Fair Grounds, the dark bay colt was spectacular, drawing off by over 13 lengths in his first mile and one-sixteenth race. Ballis flew to New Orleans last weekend to watch him work in preparation for his start in Sunday's $1 million Louisiana Derby.  He will face a field of 14 in the Grade 2 stakes, including Mark Valeski, the highly-touted favorite.

Finishing first or second would grant Cigar Street sufficient graded stakes earnings to punch his ticket to the 138th Run for the Roses.

"If he runs his race, we'll take a shot at Churchill," said Ballis. "Watching Join in the Dance was the most exciting moment of my life, but this one is a little different. His mother is a half to Cigar; from his sire, Street Sense, we knew he can get the distance."

Ballis also owns a promising 3-year-old filly, Inny Minnie, who is stakes-placed and will run in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks.

Promotions and Concert Series Set at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park will offer a variety of promotions for the 2012 Quarter Horse meet. Upcoming events include the popular Crawfish Boil on April 28; live racing coupled with the simulcast of the 138th Kentucky Derby with Mint Juleps and the annual Kentucky Derby Hat Contest on May 5, a special Sunday live racing program in honor of Mother's Day on May 13 and live racing coupled with the simulcast of the 137th Preakness Stakes on May 19.

The 2012 Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park will take place on the Bud Light Stage and will feature a total of 17 artists performing on Friday and Saturday nights following live quarter horse racing. Ticket prices begin at $10 and can be purchased at

The performers are:

Saturday, March 31 - Puddle of Mudd with Nothing More
Saturday, April 7 - Casey Donahew with Buck Yeager Band
Friday, April 20 - Cory Morrow with Amanda Nagurney
Saturday, April 28 - The Outlaws with Whiskey Myers
Friday, May 4 - Randy Houser with Rosehill
Saturday, May 12 - Bob Schneider with Honeybrowne
Friday, May 18 - Roger Creager with The Jeff Bootz Band
Saturday, May 19 - 38 Special with Blackberry Smoke & Folk Family Revival

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