Finals Set for the $600,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) and the $152,800 Sam Houston Derby (G2) at Sam Houston Race Park

(Houston, Texas - April 6, 2011) - Fans of American Quarter Horse racing will not want to miss the Saturday, April 9 race card at Sam Houston Race Park. The evening will include three Quarter Horse stakes, the $600,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2), $152,800 Sam Houston Derby (G2) and $25,000 Sam Houston Juvenile Stake.

The Sam Houston Futurity features the ten fastest qualifiers from trials run on March 25. A record number of American Quarter Horse two-year-olds competed in 18 trials and the fastest qualifier was first-time starter, Special Royal Corona, a bay son of Corona Cartel, who won his 330-yard trial in a time of :16.891 under rider Cipriano Vidana.

The colt was purchased for $50,000 at the 2010 Heritage Place Sale by Javier Lujan of Mission, Texas and trained by Felipe O. Garza.

“The way the horse is bred; we knew he was going to be good,” said Garza. “He showed his talent within the first 90 days we had him in training.”

Special Royal Corona came out of his trial in good order, according to Garza. He returned to his base in Mission, Texas and will van back to Houston on Friday.

Prominent Texas breeder and owner, James Cordell is hoping to be in the winner's circle two weeks in a row. Cordell, who resides in Crockett, Texas is the owner and breeder of second-fastest qualifier for Saturday's Sam Houston Futurity, Skyy High Perry. The daughter of Stoli recorded the second fastest qualifying time, winning her trial in :16.909 for trainer Judd Kearl and rider Rodrigo Vallejo. Cordell and Kearl enjoyed a rewarding victory last Saturday with Ms Riptide, another Cordell homebred, who captured the $30,125 Merial Distaff Texas Challenge. Kearl also trains the third fastest qualifier, Jess Tee Off, a gelded son of Tres Seis, who won the 17th trial in :16.946.

Owner Sergio Maldonado of Laredo, Texas, looks forward to a good effort from fourth-place qualifier, RC Straight Runaway. The colt was bred in Texas by Jerry Windham, but his dam, Diamonds for Toys, returned to Tennessee before foaling. Maldonado purchased RC Straight Runaway for just $7,700 at the Heritage Place Sale. Trainer Bobby Touchet, who won the 2007 Sam Houston Futurity with Check Cathy, trains RC Straight Runaway.

The Sam Houston Futurity boasts a record purse of $600,000, the highest since $525,525 in 1994. The winner will earn $240,000; payments are scaled to each of the finalists with a $21,000 check to the tenth-place runner.

Texas Icon is Fastest Qualifier in the $152,800 Sam Houston Derby (G2)

Quarter Horse owner and breeder Jerry Windham had to be patient with Texas Icon, who began to develop into a nice racehorse toward the end of his two-year-old season. The son of Corona Cartel out of the Vital Sign mare, Jennifer Kate, Trained by Tommy Zarate, Texas Icon was the fastest qualifier in trials run on March 26 for the $152,800 Sam Houston Derby. Sam Houston leading rider David Alvarez rode the Texas-bred to victory, covering 350 yards in :17.562.

The field is wide open with Bigtime Cat, who won the $201,000 Firecracker Futurity at Delta Downs and Cooleo from the barn of leading Sam Houston trainer, Judd Kearl, meriting consideration.

Trainer Jorge Haddad will saddle Fast Dashin Dude, who was the ninth-fastest qualifier with a time of :17.809, but Haddad was able to secure the riding services of veteran jockey Jacky Martin. Martin, 55, has won the All American Futurity a record seven times and was named AQHA Champion Jockey in 2010.

$25,000 Sam Houston Juvenile Stake Added for Saturday Night

The $25,000 Sam Houston Juvenile Stake was added to the stakes schedule and will feature ten American Quarter Horses that just missed qualifying for the Sam Houston Futurity. The tenth-fastest time was :17.071, so hundredths of a second was all that separated the tenth to twentieth qualifiers. Trainer Leon Bard will saddle Silver For Me, who just missed the final with his time of :17.086. He will have to contend with IB Zoomin, a daughter of Azoom is owned and bred by Rigo Flores. She ran third to second-fastest qualifier, Skyy High Perry. Acorn in the Grove, a homebred daughter of Oak Tree Special, drew the far outside post for owner James Cordell and trainer Judd Kearl. She ran her trial in :17.131 and was gaining in the final strides.

The 2011 American Quarter Horse continues through Sunday, May 15th with races every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For the full calendar of Sam Houston Race Park’s 2011 live race dates, visit Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 minutes from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including 19 luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Champion Energy Services Jockey Club. Sam Houston Race Park Platinum Partners include Bud Light, Verizon Wireless and Champion Energy Services. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit

Purse Increase Announced

Sam Houston Race Park will initiate a purse increase for the remainder of the 2011 American Quarter Horse meet. An additional $1,000 will be added to each of the races, an increase of 15% for the final 18 days of the racing season, which concludes on Sunday, May 15. The purse increase is driven by boosts in both live and host handle for the meet which has a new spring time home on the calendar.

"As we near the mid-point of the meet, we are pleased with the performance of our new spring dates," said Andrea Young, president and chief operating officer. "The purse increase is our way of thanking the horsemen for their support of our meet. We look forward to an incredible weekend of racing, highlighted by the $600,000 Sam Houston Futurity on Saturday night.”

Jockey, Trainer and Owner Standings

David Alvarez added five wins last week and remains the undisputed leader the jockey standings with 22 wins from 107 starts. Luis Vivanco is second with 12 wins and Luis Ramirez follows closely with 11 victories. Jarrod Deschamp and Jerry Lee Yoakum are tied with nine wins each.

Judd Kearl, who was the leading trainer at Sam Houston last summer, has a narrow lead in the trainer standings with 10 wins. Jorge Haddad, who is having an excellent meet, is second with 9 victories. He saddled the winners of both the 100,260 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship and $80,000 Sam Houston Maiden Classic on March 26. Heath Taylor and Abel Morin are tied for third place with five wins each. Juan Carlos Sauceda, Glen Atkinson, Angel Sanchez, Bobby Touchet and John Buchanan each have four victories.

In the owner standings, Haddad tops the standings with seven wins from 20 starters. Richard McGehee advanced to second place with four wins and Bobby Cox and Sherrie and JB Morace follow with three wins each.

Reckless Kelly in Concert This Friday at Sam Houston Race Park

Friday nights will feature Live Quarter Horse Racing and a post race concert as part of the 2011 Verizon Wireless Concert Series on the Bud Light Stage. The performers include Reckless Kelly this Friday, April 8; Wade Bowen on April 15; Cody Canada & The Departed on April 22 and Mickey & The MotorCars on May 6. Ticket prices are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the show.

Additionally, 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 which marks the return of the extremely popular Wiener Dog Races, a special post time of 1:00 p.m. and brunch featuring $2 Bloody Marys and Mimosas. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit

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