Merial Distaff Challenge Championship and Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Saturday Night at Sam Houston Race Park

(Houston, Texas - Wednesday, April 23, 2014) - Live racing returns on Thursday, April 24 with three trials for the Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge on the ten-race card, which gets underway at 7:00 p.m.

Three stakes are set for Saturday, April 26 at Sam Houston Race Park, highlighted by two Bank of America Challenge stakes, the $29,160 Merial Distaff Texas Challenge and the $20,790 Zoetis Sam Houston Starter Allowance Challenge. The always popular Texas Twister Stakes, at 110 yards, is also on Saturday's card.

Solid Group of Fillies and Mares to Compete in the $29,160 Merial Distaff Texas Challenge on Saturday Evening

A field of ten fillies and mares will compete in Saturday's Merial Distaff Texas Challenge. The draw for the 400 yard stakes took place on Wednesday, April 23, and features several stakes winners as well as some talented, but lightly raced fillies.

2011 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Champion, Shez Jess Toxic is the high earner in the field with $217,607 in career purses. The five-year-old daughter of Take Off Jess is bred, owned and trained by Dean Frey. The multiple-stakes winning mare drew post position five and will be ridden by Sam Houston leading jockey Luis Vivanco on Saturday evening.

"She ran third in the Charger Bar (January 5 at Los Alamitos) and then we turned her out," said Frey. "She has been training at Remington Park and is doing well. We thought that the Houston race would be a good opportunity to get her qualified for the final."

"This mare has never run worse than third," added Frey. "I'm a believer in taking care of what takes care of you. She's a big, sound mare with a lot of personality."

The field will also include three mares from the barn of Brandon Muniz: Miss J P Washer; Ms Jesse Belle and Im Delicious. All are owned by Ignacio Soto.

Miss JP Washer ships to Houston off a convincing win in the $25,854 Hialeah Maiden Challenge on February 22. The four-year-old daughter of Mr Jess Perry, bred in Texas by Abraham Trading/Mitchell Ranch is seeking her third win of 2014 this weekend.

Jorge Haddad will saddle the entry of Im a Feature Girl and Biarritz, who have competed in the Bank of America Texas Challenge and Silestone Stakes, respectively, this season at Sam Houston Race Park.

The Merial Distaff Texas Challenge runs as the seventh race of Saturday's card, which gets underway at 6:00 p.m. The winning mare will represent Texas in the $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at Prairie Meadows on October 18.

Zoetis Sam Houston Starter Allowance Challenge on Saturday

The $20,790 Zoetis Sam Houston Starter Allowance Challenge will also be contested Saturday evening. The 350-yard race is for Bank of America Racing Challenge-enrolled horses that have started for a claiming price of $5,000 or less within 12 months prior to the sustaining/late payment deadline.

Call of Duty makes his Sam Houston debut for owner Mary Lynne Thompson and trainer Larry Kopycinski. The four-year-old Texas-bred makes just his second start of the year and will be ridden by Francisco Calderon. Other contenders in the nine-horse field include The Mighty Delta, who broke his maiden here last May and drew the rail for James Gerhards. Trainer Judd Kearl will saddle The Punkin, a four-year-old daughter of Spit Curl Jess and Texas-bred Blessings Brother, who makes his first start since running last November at Lone Star.

The winner of the Starter Allowance Challenge will earn a berth to the $75,000 Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Championship at Prairie Meadows on October 18.

Full Field of Super Sprinters Entered in the $15,000 Texas Twister

The $15,000 Texas Twister, at 110 yards, will return for its sixth renewal at Sam Houston Race Park. The field of ten speedsters includes 2012 Texas Twister champion, The Hot List, who holds the track record of :6.736 seconds. The six-year-old son of Streakin La Jolla has an excellent record at Sam Houston, winning five of his nine starts here for trainer Yasmine Fierro.

Last year's Texas Twister runner-up, SS Poker Face Dream, is entered, and will break directly to the inside of The Hot List. The four-year-old Texas-bred is trained by Daniel G. Luna.

A newcomer to the field is Speed Smith, a six-year-old son of Prime Talent, who won a 110-yard allowance last October at Indiana Downs. Trainer Rolando Almarza believes that the veteran has a good chance in the stakes.

"He's super focused and really sound," states Almarza. "The biggest thing with 110 yards is that your horse has to leave the gates and run a perfect race."

Almarza is thrilled that Dash Master Jess stands at fifth-place on the AQHA/ Top Ten Poll for older horses. The winner of the $111,780 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G2) here on April 12 has been invited to the Remington Park Invitational (G1) on May 31, and Almarza said he will ship to Remington Park next week.

Festivities Set for the 140th Kentucky Derby Simulcast at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park invites Houstonians to celebrate the heritage, fashion and excitement of racing's most prestigious day with the 140th Running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 3, 2014. The day-long sporting and social event will include live Quarter Horse racing, simulcast of the entire race card from Churchill Downs, a $500 Hat Contest, with winners selected by a panel of celebrity judges, traditional Mint Julep cocktails served in a commemorative Kentucky Derby glass and official Kentucky Derby merchandise!

Houston fans will have an opportunity to enjoy all the Kentucky Derby festivities as well as live American Quarter Horse racing. The afternoon card begins with a special post time of 1:00 p.m. Two stakes, the Sam Houston Classic (G2) and the 870-yard Governor's Cup Marathon, are set for Saturday afternoon.

The schedule of events is as follows:

9:00 a.m. Gates Open
9:30 a.m. 1st Post from Churchill Downs
11:00 a.m. Buffet Opens
12:00 p.m. Hat Contest Registration Begins
1:00 p.m. 1st Live Sam Houston Race
3:00 p.m. Hat Contest Judging Begins
5:24 p.m. Running of the 140th Kentucky Derby

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