||$540,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2), $191,000 Sam Houston Derby (G3), and $50,000 Sam Houston Juvenile Set for Saturday Night at Sam Houston Race Park
(Houston, Texas - Wednesday, April 20, 2016) -
Live Quarter Horse returns Friday, April 22, with the popular 50 cent Beer Friday from 6:00-9:00 p.m. Six trials for the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship will be contested, with the ten fastest qualifiers returning for the final on May 14.
On Saturday, April 23, live racing gets underway at 6:00 p.m. with three stakes, highlighted by the richest race of the 2016 Quarter Horse meet, the $540,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2). The card will also feature the $191,000 Sam Houston Derby (G3) and the $50,000 Sam Houston Juvenile.
Following the conclusion of live racing on Saturday evening, The Randy Rogers Band will perform on the Bud Light Stage.
Je and Thee Leads the Field in the $540,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2)
Sam Houston hosted 17 trials on April 2 in preparation for the richest race of the 2016 Quarter Horse meeting, the $540,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2). The third trial of the afternoon produced the fastest qualifier when Je and Thee posted an impressive gate-to-wire debut under rider Jose Amador Alvarez. He covered 330 yards in :16.631 and won by a margin of 1 1/2 lengths, earning a 101 speed index.
The son of The Louisiana Cartel out of the Easy Winning Jet mare Eternal Destiny was bred in Texas by Janey S. Stoody. Purchased privately by Ramon Cano, he was trained for his debut by Joel Cantu. Je And Thee was the first starter for the 29-year-old conditioner, who has just been training for one year.
"He really surprised us," said Cantu. "We only had him for five weeks, and were not expecting a race like this. He was amazing! The owner really liked the progeny of The Louisiana Cartel and purchased this colt as a weanling."
Alvarez was not even named as the original rider of Je And Thee; his younger brother, David, was tabbed but had another commitment.
Cantu, from Roma, Texas, reported that his colt was in good shape and that Jose Alvarez made the trip to the "Valley" to work Je and Thee last Thursday.
"Jose and I talked after the work, and we are looking forward to a great final," said Cantu. "He drew between two horses that break well; our horse is ready."
It would be the first graded stakes win for both Cantu and owner Cano, who have turned down four offers for their colt since the trials.
Texas horseman Jorge Haddad will be cheering loudly for Je and Thee. Haddad stands The Louisiana Cartel, a leading second crop sire of 2016, on his ranch in Seguin, Texas.
"We are really excited," said Haddad. "His trial win was so good. It was not just the break; once he got rolling, he found another gear. He really surprised me!"
Esmeralda Peck's Midnight Heat secured the second-fastest time, winning in :16.726. The son of Corona Cartel, bred by Julianna Hawn Holt, was ridden to victory by Luis Vivanco for trainer Patrick Clemons. The $100,000 Ruidoso Select Sale graduate drew post position three.
Clemons, who resides in Nixon, Texas, will also saddle Df Dashing Champ, the tenth- fastest qualifier, for Ms. Peck. The son of One Dashing Eagle will break from the rail with Luciano Duenez in the irons.
"They both came out of their trials fine," said Clemons. "We've ponied them to the track twice; now we're just waiting for the final."
Trainer Brian Stroud will send Desdemona Rambler to the final. The Tempting Dash colt won his first career race in :16.757, recording the third fastest time in the sixth trial. Owned by Dan Grube, he was ridden to victory by Claudio Ponce Aguilar. A $80,000 re-purchase from the 2015 TQHA Yearling Sale, he is primed for a big effort, according to Stroud.
"I like this horse a whole lot," said Stroud. "Back at Retama, he won his schooling race easily. In his trial, he was playing around and still got the third-fastest time. He's a big, nice looking Tempting Dash colt."
Stroud is sticking with Aguilar, one of the younger riders in the Sam Houston jockey colony.
"Claudio has worked hard for us," said Stroud. "He is a good young rider and gallops five to six horses a day. I wanted to show him some loyalty."
The winner of the Sam Houston Futurity, which had its first running in 1994, will earn a check in the amount of $216.000. This year's champion will join a noted list of the Sam Houston Futurity, which includes 2014 AQHA Champion Two-Year-Old Kiss My Hocks (2014) and Azoom, who won 11 races in 2004. Other notable winners include Snowy Alibi, Sassmaster and Jess Tee Off.
Ivan James Returns in the $191,000 Sam Houston Derby (G3)
2015 Sam Houston Futurity winner and Sam Houston Race Park Horse of the Meet Ivan James will be back in action Saturday night. The three-year-old son of Ivory James, bred and owned by Jorge Meraz, was the fastest qualifier in seven 350-yard trials for the $191,000 Sam Houston Derby (G3).
Trained by Angel Sanchez, the bay colt closed gamely under rider Luis Vivanco to win his trial in :17.361. They will team up again Saturday, breaking from post position seven as the 7-2 choice.
"Ivan ran very well in his trial and pulled up good," said Sanchez. "He drew a good post and we like his chances."
Sanchez also qualified My Moment of Fame, a gelded son of Jumpn Chic for owner Holly Hooper. He has won two of his three starts at Sam Houston and will be ridden by Luis Ramirez.
Pete Scamardo has two homebreds in the final. Dash Dont Cheat recorded the fourth-fastest qualifying time and will be ridden by Francisco Calderon. He is stakes-placed with five wins from 10 starts, as has been installed at odds of 9-2. Scarmardo also bred Swifter Deal, who will be seeking her first stakes win under Jose Alvarez. Both finalists are trained by Leon Bard.
The Sam Houston Derby will be run as the eighth race on Saturday evening.
$50,000 Sam Houston Juvenile To Be Contested Saturday Night
The $50,000 Sam Houston Juvenile Stake will kick off the stakes action on Saturday evening. The field is comprised of two-year-olds that competed in trials for the Sam Houston Futurity on April 3, but did not make the final. Entry to the Sam Houston Juvenile was granted with preference to their trial time.
San Lorenzo Eagle, owned by Rogelio Marquez, Jr, just missed the tenth-fastest posted time in trials of :16.836 seconds. The One Famous Eagle filly, trained by Martin Trejo, will break from the far outside post under rider Esgar Ramirez.
Current Sam Houston leading trainer and jockey, Judd Kearl and Rodrigo Vallejo, team up with Ivory Wish. The daughter of Ivory James was bred in Oklahoma by Bobby Myers and will break from post position seven.
Post time for Saturday's ten race card is 6:00 p.m. The three stakes will be run as race 7 (Sam Houston Juvenile); race 8 (Sam Houston Derby) and race 9 (Sam Houston Futurity).
Judd Kearl and Rodrigo Vallejo Remain on Top at Sam Houston Race Park
Trainer Judd Kearl added six wins last week to remain in the lead in the trainer standings for the 2016 Sam Houston Quarter Horse meet. He has won 21 races from 54 starts, with top earnings of $134,290. Last year's leading trainer, Angel Sanchez, is second with 11 wins, and Leon Bard and Brian Stroud are tied for third in the standings with seven victories each.
Kearl's first call rider, Rodrigo Vallejo, is the leading jockey with 20 wins following the first four weeks of the racing season. Luis Vivanco won four races last week to move into second place with 16 victories. Francisco Calderon follows closely with 14 wins, and Damian Martinez rounds out the top four with six trips to the winner's circle.
Pete A. Scarmardo is the leader in the owner standings with five wins, and Jorge Haddad is second with four victories.
The Randy Rogers Band Performs in the Q Morning Zoo Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday, April 23
The entertaining 2016 Post Race Concert Series returns to the Bud Light stage this weekend, with The Randy Rogers Band performing on Saturday, April 23. 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 23 - The Randy Rogers Band
April 30 - Blackberry Smoke
May 14 - Roger Creager