Jody Pops Zoomer
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Jody Pops Zoomer Fastest Qualifier in Trials for the $140,400 John Deere Juvenile Challenge at Sam Houston Race Park

(Houston, Texas - Thursday, May 3, 2012) - Sam Houston Race Park hosted nine trials for the $140,400 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge on Thursday, May 3.

Trainer Cindi Keeton qualified three of the ten 2-year-olds for the final, including the fastest qualifier, Jody Pops Zoomer ($10.40) who covered 350 yards in :17.767. Bred by Gary Kurz and owned by Gary and Randal Kurz, the gelded son of Zoomin for Bux out of the Jody O Toole mare Pops Little Sis made his second start this evening. He had run in trials for the Sam Houston Futurity on March 31, but did not qualify for the final. Tonight's effort was a greatly improved performance under jockey Francisco Raul Ramirez, Jr., who has been riding first call for Keeton.

"He was too green in his first out," said Keeton. "He needed that race, and I knew he'd run big tonight."

Keeton's barn also saw a solid debut from third-fastest qualifier Leading Version ($36.80), a filly bred by Barry B. Thompson. The daughter of Latest Version out of the Eyesa Special mare Divas Image made her debut this evening and came flying from the far outside post in :17.901 with Ramirez aboard for owner Gerardo Rivera.

"I really like this filly," commented Keeton. "She has always worked well, so I wasn't surprised she won in her first start."

Just making the cutoff as the tenth fastest qualifier was the third of Keeton's entrants, Rightamountofwrong ($3.20), who crossed the wire in :18.028. The daughter of Fly Jess Fly scored her second victory of the meet; she had captured the $25,000 Sam Houston Juvenile Stakes on April 14.  

To view the complete list of the qualifiers with owners, breeders, jockeys and trainers, visit

The top ten will return on Saturday, May 19 for their share of the $140,400 purse and the opportunity to represent Texas in the $150,000 John Deere Racing Challenge Juvenile Championship (G2) on October 27. The nationally prominent Bank of America Challenge Championships will be held at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.

Live racing continues Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. and has a special post time of 1:00 p.m. set for Saturday, May 5. The ten race card will be highlighted by the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2), to be run at 440 yards, which will run as the 8th race with a post time of 4:02 p.m. (CT).

Kentucky Derby at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park will simulcast the entire card from Churchill Downs on Saturday, culminating with the running of the 138th Kentucky Derby. Advance wagering will be available on Friday, May 4 and Sam Houston Race Park will offer "Kentucky Derby Early Bird Wagering" on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5 from 7:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. at the Valet Parking Circle. Fans can enjoy Mint Juleps and enter the annual Kentucky Derby Hat Contest.
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