Trials for the John Deere Juvenile Challenge Kick Off Action-Packed Weekend at Sam Houston Race Park

(Houston, Texas - Wednesday, April 27, 2011) - Skyy High Perry, the second fastest qualifier for the $600,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) returns to action on Friday, April 29 in trials for the $88,740 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge.

With Jacky Martin riding, Skyy High Perry was bumped out of the gates in the final of the $600,000 Sam Houston Futurity on March 25, but still finished fourth, picking up a check for $48,000 for her breeder and owner, James Cordell.

Sam Houston leading trainer Judd Kearl reports that the Texas-bred daughter of Stoli came out of the final in good order.

"She's been training really good," reports Kearl. "If she gets out of the gate well, she'll be tough to beat."

Kearl will saddle three additional two-year-olds for the trials including My First Timber, who just missed the cut for the Remington Park Futurity; Dont Be Doggin Me, who will make his debut and Ja Gol Tender, a full brother to Golly Zee, who won one of the two divisions of the $15,000 Texas Twister Stakes last Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park.

The top ten qualifiers will return to action on Saturday, May 14 for their share of the $88,740 purse and the opportunity to represent the region in the $150,000 John Deere Racing Challenge Juvenile Championship (G2) at Los Alamitos Race Course on October 29.

$15,000 Ikon Stakes and Trials for $52,920 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge to be Contested on Saturday Evening

Saturday night's feature is the $15,000 Ikon Stakes to be contested at the distance of 550-yards. A field of five Texas-breds will go postward and trainer Bobby Touchet is confident that Shake Em Special Pop will give a good account of himself. Owned by Sergio Maldonado, the four-year-old son of Royal Shake Em won the $40,000 Evangeline Derby on December 10. He made his first start of the year last month in the $100,260 Bank of America Texas Challenge at Sam Houston where he finished sixth. Touchet was not disappointed in the effort.

"We had just come back from Shreveport (Louisiana Downs)," said Touchet. "The cold weather was tough on him and he just wasn't at his best. I have been wanting to run him at 550 yards for a long time; this distance should be very good for this horse."

Touchet is also pleased that he was able to secure the riding services of Sam Houston leading jockey Luis Vivanco.

"He's something else," acknowledges Touchet. “Luis is a very dedicated rider. He works hard in the mornings and sits beautifully on a horse. He reminds me of (my former first call rider) Arturo Puga."

Stakes winner JC My Diamond Man, trained by Karen Skrivanek and starter allowance veteran Shineys Magic T from the barn of Jesse Yoakum are two other solid contenders in the Ikon Stakes field.
There will also be three trials run on Saturday evening for the $52,920 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge. The ten fastest qualifiers will return on Saturday, May 14, with the winner earning a berth to the $200,000 Adequan Racing Challenge Derby Championship (G1) on October 29 at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Jockey Cody McDaniel Winning Her Share

American Quarter Horse jockey Cody McDaniel has been winning with more than a few longshots. On April 15, she piloted Abbys Bedazzlement ($44.80) to victory in the tenth race for trainer Don Bradford. She had two double-digit winners for Bradford on Sunday, April 24, Jkb Touch of Victory ($15.60) in the third and Bubblesdoublevision ($18.60), a two-year-old filly in the seventh.

The 34-year-old rider has been thrilled with her recent success. She grew up in Houston and attended Northshore High School. McDaniel, who hails from a very close-knit family, is a very positive person and riding longshots is something she cherishes.

"Some riders might pull off a horse if they see they are 20-1," said McDaniel. "I look at the past performances and try to figure out what I can do differently. With Abbys Bedazzlement, I noticed she had trouble in the gates. I just tried to get her on the muscle and keep her steady. I won't quit on any of my horses."

In addition to Don and Jamie Bradford, McDaniel rides for K.C. Carden and her father, Sherman McDaniel. She piloted one of his fillies, SM Witchy Woman ($14.60) to victory on April 23.

"The filly has a big heart and was sharp on her second start of a layoff," commented McDaniel. "It's always nice to ride for my dad. He is my number one fan and best friend."

McDaniel is appreciative of all the horsemen who have supported her throughout her career, and never takes anything for granted. One of the people whose support meant a great deal is Hector Nunez, a former jockey who helped McDaniel learn the ropes. He had a serious injury and can no longer ride, but comes out to Sam Houston Race Park to encourage McDaniel. At the beginning of the meet, McDaniel asked Nunez if she could have his saddle. She promised him that in each race, he would be riding with her in spirit and sharing each win.

"I believe that all of the jockeys are family and take care of each other," said McDaniel. "There may be arguments along the way, but at the end of the day we are all there for the same thing: to experience the thrill of victory."

McDaniel also gives credit to jockey agent Billy Stewart, who encouraged her to come to the draw and has helped her pick up mounts.

"She's an extremely good rider," said Stewart. "Cody will get on a 50-1 longshot and ride the horse like its 3-2. She always fulfills her obligations and I have never seen her scratch off a horse."

McDaniel has won 6 of her 52 starts this year, with five seconds and seven third-place finishes. With mostly claiming and maiden races, her mounts have earned $30,798, of which she receives 10%. Compare that to the $1,150,432 that mounts of the current leading AQHA rider G. R. Carter, Jr. have earned. Clearly, she is not getting rich from her hard work.

"Money is great, but the most rewarding thing to me is the smiles on the owner, trainer and groom's faces when I ride a horse into the winner's circle," admits McDaniel. "Knowing that they trusted and wanted me in the saddle is the greatest feeling."

Stolis Winner Qualifies for the Bank of America Remington Championship

Stolis Winner, bred and owned by Jerry Windham of College Station, Texas, had no trouble with the sloppy track at Remington Park on Easter Sunday. The 5-year-old gelded son of Stoli, trained by Heath Taylor, was fourth in the $100,260 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship at Sam Houston Race Park on March 26. Last Sunday, he ran extremely well, finishing second, but, but besting the Remington Park 440-yard track record when he crossed the wire in :21.036. The all-time leading money earner in American Quarter Horse racing increased his career bankroll to $2,172,599.

The Texas-bred will run in the finals of the Bank of America Remington Championship Challenge on May 8 where he hopes to turn the tables on another Texas-bred, Streakin Down, who also set a track record in trials. The Eddie Willis-trainee sizzled to victory in :21.005 seconds to better the 440-yard mark set by Chances Are I Wil, :21.068, in the 2008 Remington Park Championship.

Jockey, Trainer and Owner Standings

Luis Vivanco has surged past previous leader David Alvarez to take command of the jockey standings with 32 wins from 146 starts. Alvarez returned to action last week, winning four races and remains second with 26 victories. Luis Ramirez had an outstanding week, recording a riding triple on Saturday and six victories for the week. He is in third with 20 wins and Jerry Lee Yoakum is next with 13 wins.

Judd Kearl, is in pursuit of his fourth leading trainer title at Sam Houston and is the current leader with 17 wins. With the victory in the $600,000 Sam Houston Futurity, Kearl is the leading money earner with $395,604 in purses. Jorge Haddad, who is also having an excellent meet, is second with 12 victories. John Buchanan, Abel Morin and Angel Sanchez are tied for third place with eight wins each. Bobby Touchet and Juan Carlos Saucedo have both saddled seven winners.

In the owner standings, Haddad tops the standings with eight wins from 25 starters. Sherrie and JB Morace, leading owners from 2010, moved into second place with 6 victories and Bobby Cox, Richard McGehee and A.D. Maddox are tied for third with five wins each.

Mark McKinney and Tonic in Concert This Weekend

Weekend nights will feature Live Quarter Horse Racing and a post race concert as part of the 2011 Verizon Wireless Concert Series on the Bud Light Stage. The performers include Mark McKinney on April 29; Tonic on April 30; Mickey & The MotorCars on May 6 and Brandon Rhyder on May 13. Ticket prices are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the show.

Kentucky Derby and Mother's Day Festivities Set for May 7 - 8

The first Saturday of May will feature live racing coupled with the simulcast of the 137th Kentucky Derby with Mint Juleps, the annual Kentucky Derby Hat Contest with $500 to the winner and a special post time of 1:00 p.m. May 8th is Mother’s Day which marks the return of the extremely popular Wiener Dog Races, a special post time of 1:00 p.m. and brunch featuring $2 Bloody Marys and Mimosas. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit

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