Cartels Fortune Keeps Her Win Streak Intact in the Merial Texas Distaff Challenge at Sam Houston Race Park

(Houston, Texas - Saturday, May 2, 2015) - Sam Houston Race Park welcomed an enthusiastic crowd for the simulcast of the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby and 12 live Quarter Horse races.

Following the riveting victory of American Pharoah in the Run for the Roses, a field of 11 fillies and mares capped the live action in the $28,080 Merial Texas Distaff Challenge. Rodney J. Verret's four-year-old mare Cartels Fortune went to the starting gate off a five-race win streak and added one more victory, under a confident ride by Patrick Watson. The daughter of Carters Cartel, trained by Roy Roberts, continued to show her class, even after a four-month layoff. Her final race of 2014 was the $126,000 Evangeline Derby on December 20. Breaking from post position five, the stakes winning mare closed gamely, crossing the wire of the 400-yard stakes in :20.337 seconds.

"She did everything right, like she always does," said Watson. "She left the gates perfectly and finished strong."

Roberts saddled the winner and could not have been more pleased with her effort.

"We wanted to give her some time off at the end of the year," said Roberts "We thought she would be strong tonight, and thank God, she was ready."

Eye Agree, who ran second in the Miss Houston Stakes here on April 3, completed the exacta under jockey Rodrigo Vallejo. Last year's John Deere Texas Challenge winner, Million Dollar Kiss, ran third, and Paint Your Hips was fourth.

Cartels Fortune ($4.00) will make her next start at Delta Downs, according to Roberts, before representing Texas in the $100,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) on November 7 at Lone Star Park.

Check The Charge Blazes to Victory in the $15,000 Texas Twister

The $15,000 Texas Twister at 110 yards returned for its seventh renewal at Sam Houston Race Park. The winner of this year's exciting "super sprint" was Check The Charge, surging to the wire in :7.073.

The 10-year-old Texas-bred is owned by Milton J. Duffy and was ridden this evening by Celso Rodriguez. This was the fifth win from 24 starts for son of Check Him Out, and his first victory at 110 yards.

"I've never ridden a horse like this one," said Rodriguez. "He's really fast. I didn't do much; just held on."

"Milton had the horse on his ranch and asked me if I would train him for this race," said winning trainer Joel Garza. "I saw a good looking horse that is no ordinary 10-year-old."

Check The Charge returned $27.80 to his supporters, with Trace Seis out nodding Real Bad Jetsie for second and Waking Up in Vegas completing the superfecta.

Jess Too Tempting Tops Qualifiers for the Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge

Three trials for the $18,000-added Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge were contested Friday evening at Sam Houston Race Park, and Jess Too Tempting topped the qualifiers, covering 350 yards in :18.022 seconds.

It was the first win for the son of Tempting Dash, owned by Jerry D. Chapman and trained by Vicki Lea McIlvain. Jockey Luis Ramirez piloted the chestnut gelding to his maiden-breaking victory in the second trial.

"We knew he could run, but as a two-year-old he just had some issues," said McIlvain. "We gelded him at the end of last year, and he's just come back a better horse."

The 10 fastest qualifiers will return to Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, May 15. To view the list of the ten fastest qualifiers with owners, breeders, jockeys and trainers, visit

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