El Chinito Boy Victorious in the $101,800 Sam Houston Maiden Classic at Sam Houston Race Park

(Houston, Texas - Saturday, April 11, 2015) - Twelve trials were run on Friday, March 27 for the $101,800 Sam Houston Maiden Classic. The fastest qualifier was El Chinito Boy, and he returned in sharp form in the final, powering to his first stakes score.

The four-year-old son of Sss Ace in the Hole covered 350 yards in :17.636 under rider Damian Martinez. Juan Antonio Avila owns the gelding, who won his stakes debut in just his fourth career start. Josue Ponce trains the sorrel gelding, who broke alertly and earned a 94 speed index this evening.

"I was expecting a better break, but he just kept trying and came up with the win," said Martinez. "He jumped the lights, just like he did in the trials, but it all worked out."

Ponce, 19, has only been training a year, and was thrilled to win the first stakes of his career.

"Since the day we got him last year, we had trouble training him," said Ponce. "But this season, he's done much better, and I'm just glad we won. It feels great; this is just my second year as a trainer, so I'm pretty happy."

A Vodka Celebrity, ridden by Jorge Roman, outran his odds of 20-1 in completing the exacta. Owned by Juan Carlos Perez and trained by Daniel Luna, the four-year-old son of Vodka Talkin recording the fifth fastest time. He was the most experienced finalist in the field, with 16 previous starts. Big Time Bigs ran third, with Potus and Pyc Wagon Shaker finishing in a dead-heat for fourth place.

El Chinito Boy returned $3.40 as the betting favorite. He earned $40,720 for his first stakes victory. The final purse of $77,100 surpassed the 2013 purse of $53,400.

Dashers Midnight Defends His Title in the $25,380 Zoetis Texas Distance Challenge

The $25,390 Zoetis Texas Distance Challenge featured seven American Quarter Horses competing at the distance of 870 yards. Defending champion Dashers Midnight proved tonight why he is one of the best distance horses in the country. He was making his 28th start around the hook and slipped through an opening on the rail under regular rider Santos Carrizales. The eight-year-old son of Some Dasher cleared the field at the top of the stretch and drew off to an eight-length lead. He covered 870 yards in :45.949.

"He was ready tonight," said Carrizales. "Mr. James is a great trainer and takes care of these older horses so well."

Trained by James Gerhards and bred and owned by Joe and Elaine McAnally, Dashers Midnight has run second in both the 2013 and 2014 Zoetis Distance Challenge Championships.

"Well, actually, I wasn't sure he was up for the race," said Joe McAnally. "He's right now, but we wanted one more shot at it, and he raced really, really well. Every big race we run in, Santos does it for us; he's a great 870 rider. The final will be just one hour from our home. Maybe the third time will be the charm!"

EC Cartel, owned by Alejandra Carrion, ran second under jockey Francisco Calderon. Cmb Numero Uno was second, and The Field Cricket was disqualified from third and placed sixth for interference.

Dashers Midnight paid $13.60 for the win and earned a berth to the $100,000 Zoetis Distance Challenge Championship at Lone Star Park on Saturday, November 7. He has now won seven of his 36 starts, with earnings of $167,003.

Upcoming Sam Houston Race Park Major Quarter Horse Stakes

Several major Quarter Horse stakes will be contested over the next two weeks at Sam Houston Race Park:

Sat., April 18 $100,000 Bank of America Texas Challenge (G1)

Sat., April 25 $621,100 Sam Houston Futurity (G2)
$203,300 Sam Houston Derby (G3)
$50,000 Sam Houston Juvenile Stakes

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