|$50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2) and $41,757 Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge Highlight the Saturday, May 13 Card at Sam Houston Race Park
(Houston, Texas - Wednesday, May 10, 2017) -
Another action-packed weekend is in store at Sam Houston Race Park. On May 12, don't miss Food Truck Friday with some of Houston's favorite Food Trucks, including Churrascos, Custom Confections, Dlish Curbside Bistro, Greedy's Food Truck, Mingo's Latin Kitchen, Nom Mi Street, Nun & Tutz Cuisine, Offbeat Eatz, Texasiana Famous Foods, and Tikiz Shaved Ice. Live racing gets underway at 7:00 p.m., with the popular 50-cent Beer Friday from 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Saturday's card includes the running of the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2), as well as the final of the $41,757 Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge. The Josh Abbott Band will perform after the evening's races.
Contention Runs Deep in the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2)
A full field of ten will compete in Saturday's $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2). TLC Dale, a son of 2011 Sam Houston Classic champion The Louisiana Cartel has been installed as the 5-2 choice in the 440-yard stakes. Owned by Rogelio Garza Guarjardo and conditioned by Eusevio Huitron, the four-year-old won the 2016 Sam Houston Derby (G3) and was second in the Firecracker Derby at Delta Downs. He began his 2017 campaign here on March 31, qualifying for the $103,320 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G2) and running second to Jessies First Down in the final. Jockey Raul Ramirez, Jr. will guide the bay gelding from the far outside post.
Sam Houston Race Park leading trainer Judd Kearl will send out two talented entrants: Dutcher and RC Me Leaving You. Dutcher will make his third start of the meet and will be ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo. The five-year-old gelding was bred in Louisiana by Jumonville Farms, who owns the son of Apollitical Jess in partnership with Brian Ranch.
Breeder J. E. Jumonville named Dutcher after his middle son, who runs the family's breeding farm in Ventress, Louisiana. He was the fastest qualifier on March 31 in trials run for the Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship. He "broke in the air", but recovered to finish third in the grade two stakes.
"He came out of the race well," said Kearl. "The winner of the Classic gets an invitation to the Remington Park Invitational, and right now, Dutcher is listed as an alternate."
Jessies First Down, the reigning AQHA World Champion, trained by Kearl, will run in the $250,000 Remington Park Invitational (G1) on June 3. Dutcher may join his stablemate, but Kearl is also optimistic about the chances of RC Me Leaving You. The five-year-old by Coronas Leaving You is owned by Bennie and Terri Jeter and will make his first start since winning the B.F. Phillips Jr. Stakes last November at Lone Star Park.
"He always came back from a race extremely tired and breathing hard," explained Kearl. "Earlier this year, we sent him to Dr. (Tommy) Hays, and he performed surgery, removing his epiglottis and both flappers. He's been training super; bucking up a storm. So, after winning three stakes not being able to breathe, we'll see how he does Saturday!"
Noe Villatoro has the mount aboard RC Me Leaving You, breaking from the five hole.
Kearl has won three editions of the Sam Houston Classic, beginning in 2010 when Comin Thru defeated AQHA World Champion Stolis Winner. Two years later, he saddled Nowurtalkin. In last year's Sam Houston Classic, the victory went to Jessies First Down, who closed powerfully and went on to win three Grade 1 stakes.
"For a $50,000 race, it always comes up tough," said Kearl.
Drawing the rail post position is Politically Corrupt, owned by Double H Racing Investment LLC. Trainer Jose Sanchez will saddle the four-year-old sired by Apollitical Jess, who won last year's $176,000 Retama Park Derby. He will make his first start of the year under rider Cipriano Vidana.
"He's been training well," said Sanchez. "He'll be ready on Saturday."
Fans this season have learned never to ignore trainer Leon Bard in stakes races, and the veteran horseman has two runners entered in the Sam Houston Classic. Pete A. Scarmardo's homebred Kid Can Dash prepped for this with a solid allowance score on April 10 under jockey Francisco Calderon. He remains aboard the four-year-old son of Down N Dash who has won three of his four starts at Sam Houston. This Is A Deal, also owned and bred by Scarmardo, returns off his seventh-place finish in the Bank of America Texas Challenge on April 22. Juan Vazquez will ride the four-year-old son of Dealagame, who ran a game second to Ivan James in the 2015 Sam Houston Futurity.
The Sam Houston Classic has produced some very notable past champions since its first running in 1994. Past winners include Kool Kue Baby, AQHA World Champions Tailor Fit and Jessies First Down, Streakin Sin Tacha, and The Louisiana Cartel.
Borger Boy Leads the $41,757 Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge Field
Trials were run on April 22 for the $41,757 Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge at Sam Houston Race Park. Almada Racing's Borger Boy broke his maiden and set the fastest qualifying time that evening. The son of Bigtime Favorite won his 350-yard trial in :17.584 seconds, earning a 94-speed index.
Josue Ponce saddled the three-year-old, who was in the money in four of seven starts, including a third-place effort in the West Texas Juvenile at Sunland Park.
Santos Carrizales qualified both Borger Boy and Boogie To the Top for the final, both for Ponce. Boogie Tothe Top is an Oklahoma-bred three-year-old by Prospect to the Top who will make his fourth career start for owner Ovidio M. Sandoval.
"I knew right away that I would ride Boogie Tothe Top in the final," said Carrizales. "He ran a really good race off the layoff."
Ponce was fine with the decision by the veteran jockey.
"I always leave it to the rider," said Ponce. "Whatever they feel most comfortable with. Boogie Tothe Top has several small issues last year, and we felt he needed some time off. He came back well, especially running for the first time under the lights."
Jockey Luciano Duenez, who won his first career stakes aboard Almada Racing's Alluring Lil Menace for Ponce on opening night, will pilot Borger Boy. He has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite.
"Luciano's done a good job for the barn," added Ponce. "I'm happy to have two runners in the final."
Chula Kid finished second to Borger Boy and earned the second-fastest clocking in the trials. The four-year-old daughter of The Louisiana Cartel is owned by Greta and Pete Guerra and conditioned by Jorge Luis Muniz. Rider Luis Ruiz will pilot the Texas-bred mare, who will be making her fifth career start on Saturday night. Trainer Judd Kearl will send out Tellem Honeys Here, a three-year-old Teller Cartel filly owned by Martha Martin. She set the third-fastest qualifying time and will be ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo.
Judd Kearl and Rodrigo Vallejo Top Standings at Sam Houston Race Park
Trainer Judd Kearl continues his dominant showing in the 2017 Sam Houston Quarter Horse meet with 25 wins. He has won seven Sam Houston leading trainer titles to date. Leon Bard has won multiple stakes this season, and is second in the standings, with 12 wins and an impressive 67% of his starters hitting the board. Jose Sanchez and Brian Stroud are tied for third with 11 wins each.
Rodrigo Vallejo remains on top of the 2017 jockey standings with 23 wins. Francisco Calderon tied Luis Vivanco for second place, with 16 winners each. Sadly, Vivanco was injured ten days ago and will not ride again this meet. Juan Garcia, Jr. is third with 15 trips to the winner's circle.
A. D. Maddox is the leader in the owner race with six wins. Pete A. Scarmardo follows closely with four victories, and Holly Hooper, Rogelio Marquez Jr and Jerry Windham have each won three races this season.
Josh Abbott Band Saturday Night in the Spring Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park
The entertaining 2017 Spring Concert Series returns to the Bud Light stage this weekend with the Josh Abbott Band performing on Saturday, May 13. The series continues through May 19 with the artists taking to the stage immediately following the live Quarter Horse races. The remaining featured performers are:
May 13 Josh Abbott Band
May 19 Casey Donahew Band
Concert admission is FREE with $7 live racing admission before 8:00 p.m. Save $10 with advanced purchase of after 8:00 p.m. tickets. Tickets are available at www.shrp.com, at participating Houston-area Randall's locations, or by calling 800-211-3381.