|Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge Set for Saturday, April 28 at Sam Houston Race Park
(Houston, Texas - Wednesday, April 25, 2012) - A field of six American Quarter Horse distance specialists will compete in the $22,500 Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge, the 870-yard feature race on the Saturday, April 28 race card at Sam Houston Race Park.
Kite Flyer, a 5-year-old son of Royal Quick Dash, drew the coveted rail post and will be ridden by Santos Carrizales. Bred by Iris Buchanan, Kite Flyer won the Red Cell Lone Star Distance Challenge last September at Lone Star Park and represented Texas in the Red Cell Challenge Championship (G1) at Los Alamitos on October 29, finishing third to Yin Your Eyes. Owned by Dark Horse Partnership, the gray has won five of his 17 starts for trainer Ryan Basham.
"It was a little over a year ago that he made his 870-yard debut at Sam Houston," said Basham. "He drew post seven and finished fourth, but improved in his next starts and ending up winning the Challenge at Lone Star Park. We had a hunch he would make a nice 870-yard horse and know that Santos fits him well."
His rivals in the Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge include Mysterious Streaker from the barn of Sam Houston's top conditioner, Judd Kearl. The 11-year-old veteran was bred by Joe Kirk Fulton for owner Noah Powell. He will make his 35th career start on Saturday, rebounding from a second-place finish in a 870-yard optional claimer on February 6 at Louisiana Downs. Luis Ramirez has the mount.
Bok Man, Im a Grand Believer and the entry of Kudos For Quick Dash and Midnight Bushwhacker complete the field.
The winner will represent Texas in the $125,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship (G1) on October 27 at Prairie Meadows.
Live racing is set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Post time for the Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge, which will run as the eighth race on Saturday evening, is 10:02 p.m. (CT).
Promotions and Concert Series Set at Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park will offer a variety of promotions for the 2012 Quarter Horse meet. Every Thursday features free admission for all racing fans Upcoming events include the popular Crawfish Boil on April 28; live racing coupled with the simulcast of the 138th Kentucky Derby with Mint Juleps and the annual Kentucky Derby Hat Contest on May 5, a special Sunday live racing program in honor of Mother's Day on May 13 and live racing coupled with the simulcast of the 137th Preakness Stakes on May 19.
The 2012 Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park will take place on the Bud Light Stage and will feature artists performing on Friday and Saturday nights following live quarter horse racing. Ticket prices begin at $10 and can be purchased at shrp.com.
The performers are:
Saturday, April 28 - The Outlaws with Whiskey Myers
Saturday, May 12 - Bob Schneider with Honeybrowne
Friday, May 18 - Roger Creager with The Jeff Bootz Band
Saturday, May 19 - 38 Special with Blackberry Smoke & Folk Family Revival
Jockey, Trainer and Owner Standings
Judd Kearl, who has four leading trainer titles at Sam Houston, continues to build an insurmountable lead in the standings. He added six wins last week to top all conditioners with 24 wins from 79 starts. Eusevio Huitron, Michael Wakefield, Yasmine Fierro and Cindi Keeton are tied for second with six wins each. Jorge Haddad, Abel Morin, Roberto Madrigal and Cleto Martinez, Jr follow closely with five victories.
Rodrigo Vallejo, who rides first call for Kearl, is the leading rider following six weeks of live racing. Vallejo has won on 22 of his 77 mounts. Last year's leading rider Luis Vivanco has ridden 123 horses and is currently second in the standings with 18 wins. Francisco Raul Ramirez, Jr. and J.R. Ramirez are tied for third with 12 victories each. Luis Ramirez has moved into fifth place with nine trips to the winner's circle.
The most competitive battle for meet ending honors belongs to the owners. Eleazar Martinez, Sr. moved into sole possession of the lead with five wins. The horseman, who lives in San Antonio, made the trip to Houston last Friday to see one of his horses, The Hot List set a new track record in the $15,000 Texas Twister. A. D. Maddox and Betty and Lynn Bettinger, Sr. are tied for second with four victories. J.B. and Sherrie Morace, Bobby Cox, Jack Manning, Gary Kurz and Filimon Saucedo each have three wins to date.
Bret Calhoun Wins 2,000th Career Race
Trainer W. Bret Calhoun won the 2,000th Thoroughbred race of his career on Thursday, April 19 at Lone Star Park. The 47-year-old Texas native captured the milestone in the third race of the card, when Forty Winks drew off under rider Cliff Berry in a $11,100 claiming sprint.
Calhoun began his career in Texas, winning his first race on April 1, 1994 at Trinity Meadows. His barn has expanded with successful runs in Texas, Kentucky and Oklahoma. In 2010 he won two Breeders' Cup wins in 2010, capturing the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) with Dubai Majesty and the Turf Sprint (G2) with Chamberlain Bridge. He also trained his first Eclipse Award winner that same year, when Dubai Majesty was voted champion female sprinter.
Calhoun has trained a legion of stakes winners at Sam Houston, including Texas Champions winners Taptam, Chief of Affairs, Sword Trick, Tin Top Cat, Bubbler and Sweet Idea. In 2011, Calhoun shipped in Chamberlain Bridge who won the $75,000 Railsplitter Stakes on the Connally Turf course. Earlier this year, the Calhoun-trained Coyote Legend was named 2012 Horse of the Meet at Sam Houston Race Park. The 5-year-old son of Gold Legend is bred and owned by Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. and won the $100,000 Star Of Texas on Texas Champions Weekend. He finished a game second on March 3 in the $150,000 Maxxam Gold Cup, eclipsing the half-million mark in earnings.
"I've won some nice races in Texas," said Calhoun. "Running at Sam Houston and Lone Star helped me build a foundation and further my career."
Calhoun heads to Churchill Downs for their 2012 Spring meet. He reports that Chamberlain Bridge will run in the Grade 3, $125,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint on May 5. He will also have a string of horses at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey when their live racing season gets underway on May 12.
Churchill Downs Meet Opens on Saturday
Churchill Downs kicks off its spring meet on Saturday, April 28 with an evening race card. Post time is 6:00 p.m. and opening night will feature the Grade 3, $200,000 Cliff's Edge Derby Trial. All eyes will be on the daily works of the contenders in the 138th Kentucky Derby as they prepare for the Run for the Roses on Saturday, May 5.
Steve Asmussen, who holds five leading trainer as well as three leading owner titles at Sam Houston Race Park, will saddle three of the potential 20 starters in the Kentucky Derby. The trio includes Daddy Nose Best, owned by Texans Bob and Cathy Zollars; Sabercat, winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Isn't It Clever, who was just transferred to Asmussen on April 17 by owner J. Kirk Robison.
Daily workouts and news on each of the Kentucky Derby contenders can be viewed on kentuckyderby.com.
Hollywood Park, Delta Downs and Belmont Park are additional tracks with opening days this week. Sam Houston Race Park offers simulcasting from these and racetracks across the country. For more information on opening days, post times and key stakes races, visit shrp.com.