||$98,300 Sam Houston Maiden Classic Highlights the Weekend Racing Action at Sam Houston Race Park
(Houston, Texas - Wednesday, April 6, 2016) -
The weekend ahead at Sam Houston Race Park begins with the return of Food Truck Friday on Friday, April 8. Fans can enjoy delicacies from a number of popular vendors, including Custom Confections, Maine-iac Seafood, Casian King, Lucy Anna Foods, Yummy Dog Sausages, Pita Bites and Friohana Shave Ice. Live racing gets underway at 7:00 p.m., with the popular 50 cent Beer Friday from 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Saturday night post time is 6:00 p.m. with two stakes: the $21,510 Zoetis Texas Distance Challenge and $98,300 Sam Houston Maiden Classic.
Popular Country Western performing artist Cody Johnson will perform on the Bud Light Stage following the conclusion of the live racing card.
The $98,300 Sam Houston Maiden Classic to be Contested Saturday Night
The ten fastest qualifiers from 11 trials on Friday, March 26 will return to action Saturday evening in the $98,300 Sam Houston Maiden Classic.
The third trial of the evening produced the fastest qualifier when Kid Can Dash, a three-year-old son of Down N Dash that covered 350 yards in :17.577. Pete Scarmardo bred and owns the gelding, who came into the trials off two runner-up finishes at Lone Star Park and Evangeline Downs. Francisco Calderon was the winning rider, and will pilot the 3-1 morning-line favorite on Saturday evening.
His trainer, Leon Bard, reports that Kid Can Dash came out of the race in good order.
"He's bright-eyed and came back from his trial with no problems," said Bard. "We're okay with drawing the three hole; if he breaks well, he'll be hard to beat."
So Smart, a Tr Dasher filly bred by Ed Allred, posted the second-fastest qualifying time. Owned by Jamie Flores and trained by Homar Garcia, the three-year-old made five starts in Louisiana before breaking her maiden in trials for this stakes. She will be ridden by Eddi Emanuel Martinez, who won the riding title at the recently concluded Louisiana Downs Quarter Horse meet.
Last year, the fastest qualifier, El Chinito Boy, prevailed in the final for trainer Josue Ponce. He will saddle Sing a Hot Tune, a seven-year-old Corona Caliente mare, in this year's final. Owned by Luis A. Delacerda, she recorded the eighth-fastest qualifying time in her career debut under jockey Francisco Ramirez, Jr.
"Her owners didn't want to race her," explained Ponce. "She had been turned out in the pasture, but last year, they sent her to me. It took almost a year to get her into shape before she could breeze and run a schooling race at Retama."
Ponce, who will turn 21 on April 30, is a young trainer who has conditioned some very nice horses already in his career. He won two stakes at Louisiana Downs on March 20 and believes his mare has a chance on Saturday in the Sam Houston Maiden Classic.
"The mare came out of the race in good shape," said Ponce. "All we can hope for is a good, clean break in the final."
The Sam Houston Maiden Classic will run as the ninth on Saturday's card.
Solid Field of Distance Specialists To Compete in Saturday's $21,510 Zoetis Texas Distance Challenge
The $21,510 Zoetis Texas Distance Challenge will feature eight impressive American Quarter Horse distance specialists competing at the distance of 870 yards.
Fire on the Fly, two-time winner of the 870-yard $25,000 Governors' Cup Marathon at Sam Houston Race Park, has been installed as the 3-1 choice. The Bullard Farms homebred will make his 28th career start and has won eight distance races for his trainer, Tommy Bullard. Bullard is a practicing veterinarian and gives all the credit to Fire on the Fly.
"He's a special horse, but he's had some issues," said Bullard. "I don't think I did that much with him; he's just an amazing athlete."
Bullard tabbed Louisiana-based jockey Donell Blake to ride the six-year-old son of Jet Cartel. Blake rode the handsome gray in both victories earlier this year at Louisiana Downs, and he won both by a four length margin. On Saturday, they will break from the enviable rail post position.
EC Cartel, owned by Alejandra Carrion and trained by Judd Kearl, comes into the feature off back-to-back 870-yard stakes victories at Lone Star Park and Evangeline Downs. Kearl, the current leading trainer at Sam Houston Race Park, will get a rare "hook race" appearance by his first-call rider, Rodrigo Vallejo.
"I told him he had to ride," said Kearl, of Vallejo. "This horse always runs well fresh and drew well (post position three) for this."
Dashers Midnight, who ran second in the 2013 and 2014 Zoetis Distance Challenge Championship, is the highest earner in the field with $182,413 in 41 starts.
The nine-year-old distance specialist, bred and owned by Elaine and Joe McAnally, is trained by James Gerhards, and will be guided by Santos Carrizales.
The field also includes Stolis Pro, bred and owned by Jerry Windham, and two John Boegner homebreds, Speed Bok and Bling Bling Bok.
The winner of the Zoetis Texas Distance Challenge will earn a berth to the $125,000 Zoetis Distance Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos on October 29.
Cody Johnson Performs in the Q Morning Zoo Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday, April 9
The entertaining 2016 Post Race Concert Series returns to the Bud Light stage this weekend with Cody Johnson performing on Saturday, April 9. The series continues through May 14 and each concert is FREE with $7 live racing admission before 8:00 p.m., and $20 after 8:00 p.m. at the gate. Save $6 (just $14) on after 8:00 p.m. admission by purchasing tickets online in advance at shrp.com.
The featured performers are:
April 9 - Cody Johnson
April 16 - Parmalee
April 23 - The Randy Rogers Band
April 30 - Blackberry Smoke
May 14 - Roger Creager