Sam Houston Race Park to Host Daily Racing Form/NTRA Handicapping Championship on September 23

(August 1, 2006) - Sam Houston Race Park will host its seventh annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA Championship Qualifier on Saturday, September 23, 2006. The contest is open to all racing fans, 21 years of age or older but limited to the first 200 entries (two entries per person max). The top three finalists will win a trip to compete at Bally’s - Las Vegas for the 2007 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship.

“We look forward to hosting this contest each year and having some of the top handicappers in the country come to Houston,” said Troy Lawrence, director of player services. “This year’s first prize award has been increased to $10,000, in addition to the qualifying spot to the finals, so I expect a full field of 200.”

The contest fee is $200 and includes a seat on the Club level of the Sam Houston Race Park Grandstand, a continental breakfast, a contest program, a complimentary buffet lunch and a Sam Houston Race Park gift. Early registration is encouraged to all handicappers.

Contestants will be required to make mythical $2.00 win and place wagers on 20 races throughout the day. Ten races will be designated as mandatory by Sam Houston Race Park with the remaining ten to be chosen by the participants. Contestants will have the option of selecting races from designated tracks including Belmont, Calder, Hawthorne, Louisiana Downs and Monmouth.

The individual winner will be determined by the highest bankroll from all $2.00 win and place bets at the end of the day. First place will receive $10,000, second place finisher will be awarded $6,000, $3,000 for third place, $2,000 for fourth place and $1,000 for fifth place. Participants who finish sixth through fifteenth place, will receive $300 each.

The three top finishers will represent Sam Houston Race Park in the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship on January 26-27 and receive complimentary entry into the finals, roundtrip airfare to Las Vegas and three nights hotel accommodations. A total of over $500,000 in cash prizes will be distributed in the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, the largest total purse in the eight-year history of the event.

In the 2006 Championship, Sam Houston Race Park’s three qualifiers finished 11th, 21st and 23rd out of 225 total contestants. Their team score of $543.60 was easily tops in the event and they were awarded $15,000 for their efforts.

For further information regarding the Daily Racing Form/NTRA Handicapping Qualifier on Saturday, September 23, please call Troy Lawrence at (281) 807-8801 or visit the Sam Houston Race Park web site at

Big Weekend for Jockey Alfonso Lujan

Jockey Alfonso Lujan had a big weekend at Sam Houston Race Park. He won two stakes on Friday, July 28, notching a dead-heat victory aboard Fast Rythum in the $45,000 TQHA 550 Stakes and a win with Coup de Victory in the $22,000 TQHA Starter Stakes. He returned to the winner’s circle four times on Saturday, July 29 with three wins for trainer Janet Van Bebber. The most prestigious victory was aboard Snowy Alibi in the $343,305 TQHA Sale Futurity, with the winner’s share of the purse over $152,000.

The 28-year-old jockey began riding at Sunland Park in 1996 and has competed in Texas and most recently, Louisiana. Currently, Lujan is the fourth leading rider at Sam Houston Race Park with 15 wins. He joined the meet following the conclusion of the Delta Downs meeting where he finished fourth in the standings with 42 wins.

Lujan was the leading rider by wins in 2005 with 162 wins from 988 starts, just one more than Cody Jensen, who rides mainly at Los Alamitos and Ruidoso Downs. Lujan’s mounts earned $2,069,00 and his association with five-time leading Sam Houston Race Park trainer, Janet Van Bebber, certainly bodes well for him this summer.

Two Divisions of the Woodlands Stakes Set for Friday Night

Fifteen Quarter Horses are eligible for the Friday night feature at Sam Houston Race Park, the $10,000-added Woodlands Stakes, so racing secretary Eric Johnston carded two divisions of the 870-yard contest for three-year-olds. Cf Rarity is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in race 7, the first of the two divisions of the Woodlands Stakes. Trainer Gary Walker will ship in the 3-year-old son of Rare Form, who won his last 870-yard start at Fair Meadows at Tulsa on July 20. McM Penny Game is the 5-2 choice in the ninth race and second division. The Chad Hassenpflug-trainee has won two of his three races this year and will be ridden by Nickey Laws.

In addition to the Woodlands Stakes, the Friday night Sam Houston Race Park card will also include the $5,000-added La Perla Paint andAppaloosa with a field of eight 2-year-olds competing at 350-yards.

TQHA Yearling Sale Concludes with Sales of $3.2 Million

The Texas Summer Showdown Weekend continued this morning with the final day of the 2006 TQHA Yearling Sale. The annual sale was extended to a two-day event for a third year in a row. Officials from the TQHA reported that the 2006 catalog included 320 consignees and total sales from the 2-day event reached $3,268,500.

The 2006 TQHA sale topper was hip 141, Tailgunner Tom, with the top bid of $110,000 by Glen S. Collins of College Station, Texas. The chestnut colt was one of two Corona Cartel colts in the annual sale. Corona Cartel was the 2005 AQHA leading sire by both 2-year-old earnings and 2-year-old winners.

“This continues to be a great partnership between the Texas Quarter Horse Association and Sam Houston Race Park,” said Rob Werstler, director of racing for the TQHA. “We attracted a number of quality horses and horsemen from not only Texas, but all over the country and were pleased with the weekend.”

Texas Sixes Fastest Qualifier in the TQHA Sires Cup Derby

Four trials were run this evening for the $25,000-added TQHA Sires Cup Derby. Texas Sixes, trained by Judd Kearl and ridden by James Brooks was the fastest qualifier, crossing the wire of his 400-yard trial in :20.084. Owned and bred by Jerry Windham, the sorrel colt qualified for the 2005 Rainbow Futurity, finished sixth in the Ruidoso Downs stakes. This was his first win of 2006, but Kearl acknowledged that he had a tough campaign in 2005.

“I’ve just had him for about a month,” said Kearl. “He has talent; he won the Ruidoso Juvenile last June. Good 2-year-olds will run well as 3-year-olds; you just have to keep them fresh and happy.”

Texas Sixes and the nine additional qualifiers will return to Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday, August 12 for the final.

Sam Houston Race Park Jockey, Trainer and Owner Standings

Rodrigo Vallejo remains at the top of rider standings at Sam Houston Race Park with a total of 30 wins. Among his highlights last weekend, Vallejo piloted Cash on Black to a dead-heat win in the $45,500 TQHA “550” Stakes and qualified Run Money Run and All American Winner for the TQHA Sires’ Cup Derby. Vallejo topped off his weekend by riding four winners on the Sunday afternoon card. Last year’s leading jockey, James Brooks, is steadily keeping up with Vallejo. Brooks had a successful weekend, capturing the $45,250 Barnmaster Sprint Stakes with Shake Em Fever and six other winning mounts, giving him a total of 27 wins. Jeff Jerman remains in third place with 21 wins and is followed by Alfonso Lujan, who had a prosperous weekend. Lujan started the biggest weekend in Texas Quarter Horse racing with a bang, winning the $45,500 TQHA “550” Stakes in a dead-heat on Fast Rythum and returning to the winner’s circle aboard Coup de Victory in the $22,000 TQHA Starter Stakes on Friday evening. He rode Snowy Alibi to victory in Saturday’s $343,305 TQHA Sale Futurity. Lujan currently has a total of 16 wins and the highest earnings in the jockey colony with $244,270. Luis Ramirez rounds out the top five jockeys with 11 wins.

Judd Kearl continues to maintain his lead in the trainer standings. Kearl saddled Shake Em Fever, the victor in the $45,250 Barnmaster Stakes and two other winners last weekend. Kearl has a total of 13 wins and is closely followed by Janet Van Bebber. Van Bebber saddled four winners, including Snowy Alibi in the $343,305 TQHA Sale Futurity and concluded the weekend with 12 wins and the highest earnings of $259,272. Toby Keeton follows in third place and was able to pick up a stakes win. Keeton’s Fast Rythum captured the $45,500 TQHA “550” Stakes, giving him a total of eight wins. Alex Villarreal is fourth in the trainer standings with seven wins and is followed by Jesse Aguilar, who has six wins.

Owner Warner Croft now shares his lead with Los Ladrilleros Horse Racing Co., who jumped back into the top five. Each have five wins each. J.C. Wells, Joe Kirk Fulton and D.D. Lightsey are tied with four wins each. Lightsey has the highest earnings of $163,328 after his Snowy Alibi captured the $343,305 TQHA Sale Futurity.

August VIP Specials at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park continues the great offers and benefits for its VIP Club members. Each Wednesday in August, VIP Club members may choose to receive double points for swiping their VIP Club Card, or choose to receive a complimentary Saratoga or Del Mar program. Also, just for swiping the VIP Club Card, members will be entered in a drawing for $250, which will be held each Sunday. Admission is also free for all VIP Club members who visit the park during non live racing hours. Race fans will enjoy taking advantage of the free admission to wager on the simulcast races from across the country.

There are many great incentives for joining the VIP Club, including the VIP point-earning program. For swiping the VIP card, members earn player points for a free dinner in the Winner’s Circle Restaurant, complimentary Box Seats and many other great rewards.

To become a VIP Club member, visit the Players Lounge located at the North end of the Grandstand on the Paddock Level. For more information about the benefits of the VIP Club stop by the Players Lounge or visit

Simulcasting This Weekend at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park will simulcast coast-to-coast racing action this week. Arlington Million Day will take place at Arlington Park on Saturday, August 12. The premier event features three Grade I turf stakes: the Arlington Million XXIV; the Beverly D and the Secretariat Stakes.

Saratoga Race Course will be hosting a NTRA National Pick 4 on Saturday, August 12 featuring the four following stakes: the $200,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Breeders’ Cup Handicap and the $500,000 Sword Dancer Invitational from Saratoga, the $750,000 Beverly D.and $1,000,000 Arlington Million from Arlington.

Also on Saturday, Flower Alley and Invasor are two of the top contenders in the $750,000 Whitney Handicap (G1) at Saratoga. Sunday’s simulcast highlight is the $1 Million Haskell Invitational Handicap (G1) at Monmouth Park, with Bluegrass Cat, the runner-up in the 2006 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, as a likely starter.

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