Final Weekend of Live Racing Features the Sam Houston Futurity and Derby

(September 6, 2006) - The 2006 Sam Houston Race Park American Quarter Horse Meeting will conclude on Saturday, September 9 and six stakes races will highlight the final two days of the season.

On Friday, September 8, 2-year-olds will take center stage with the running of the $316,000 Sam Houston Futurity. Saturday night’s card will feature the finals of the $122,000 Sam Houston Derby as well as the $30,840 Colors of Houston Futurity.

Sam Houston Race Park conditioner, Janet Van Bebber, who has won the training title at the northwest Houston racetrack for the past five years, has two finalists for the Grade 1 event for 2-year-old runners. She will saddle fastest qualifier, Streakin Illusively for owner Lou Phillips, with rider Alfonso Lujan aboard. Jacky Martin will ride Snowy Alibi, who won the $343,305 TQHA Sale Futurity for D D Lightsey.

“I like where they drew and how they are doing,” said Van Bebber. “I always prefer to be toward the outside rather than the inside. They’re nice colts and I gave Alfonso his choice for the final. He will ride Streakin Illusively and I am pleased that Jacky (Martin) will ride Snowy Alibi. He is a very quiet rider and came in last weekend to ride Love My Dash he was able to stay and gallop Snowy Alibi. It worked out well.”

The 3-1 morning-line favorite for the Sam Houston Futurity is Zoomin For Bux, trained by Roberto Madrigal. winner of the Grade 1 Retama Park Futurity on June 18. Martin Rubalcava rode the son of Shazoom to victory in his trial race on August 25 and feels that he will run a good race on Friday.

“I haven’t worked him since the trial, but Roberto says he is doing well,” said Rubalcava. “He raced under the lights for the first time in his trial and should have no problem breaking from the rail.”

Saturday night’s feature will be the running of the $122,000 Sam Houston Derby. Trials were run on August 26 and he first trial produced the fastest qualifier as La Bron crossed the wire of the 440-yard trial in :21.949, the fastest time of 34 runners.

La Bron, a Texas-bred son of Streakin La Jolla, is trained by Tony Delgado for owner Salvador A. Lozano. Martin Rubalcava, who had ridden the colt on three occaisions at Retama Park, had the mount.

“I rode this colt when he broke his maiden at Manor, and he won by over four lengths,” said Rubalcava. “He got bumped in the derby trials, or he would have made the finals there. Then I lost track of him, so I was glad to see him here. He ran a big race tonight, and I think he’ll have a good final even though he doesn’t have as many starts (as most of the other horses).”

Ida Snow Man, winner of the $26,280 Professional’s Choice Texas Claiming Challenge on July 8, has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Sam Houston Derby. La Bron is the second choice at 4-1 and Shazoomer is 9-2.

Trainer John Buchanan’s Dont Let Down Runs Third in the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs

American Quarter Horse racing’s richest race, the $2 million All American Futurity took place over a sloppy track on Labor Day at Ruidoso Downs. Trainer John Buchanan sent out two runners and Dont Let Down, bred and owned by Bobby D. Cox, ran third.

Juan Vazquez rode Dont Let Down, who was bumped out of the gate, but recovered and closed well on the outside of the track. Cox picked up a check for $137,450 for his colt’s third-place finish.

Winners Announced in the All American Futurity Handicapping Contest

Sam Houston Race Park hosted the $500 All American Handicapping Contest on Labor Day. Patrons were asked to make selections on three Sam Houston Race Park races as well as the All American Futurity from Ruidoso Downs. Virginia Hillegeist of Houston, Texas, won the contest and was awarded $300. Joyce Edeker of Spring, Texas, was second and won $150 and Peter Harris of The Woodlands, Texas, finished third and won $50.

Sam Houston Race Park Jockey, Trainer and Owner Standings

James Brooks, who won the 2005 leading rider title at Sam Houston Race Park, leads Rodrigo Vallejo by six wins heading into the final two days of the meeting. Brooks won nine races over the extended Labor Day program and has a total of 48 victories and $325,682 in earnings. Vallejo has 42 wins and Jeff Jerman is tied with Alfonso Lujan for third place with 31 wins each. Martin Rubalcava follows with 22 wins trips to the winner’s circle. Although he is not one of the meet leaders, rider Ray Mayo had a nice weekend, booting home three nice-priced winners: Storms Comen ($20.40), Boom Boom Shazoom ( $22.40) and Sharper Image Design ( $71.20).

Judd Kearl continues his lead in the trainer standings, winning five races last weekend and sending a total of 28 of his runners to the winner’s circle so far this meeting. Kearl has total earnings of $216,342 and is followed by five-time leading conditioner, Janet Van Bebber, who has the highest earnings of $310,325 and 22 wins. Dave Correll and Toby Keeton are tied for third in the standings with 13 victories each Jesse Yoakum and Duane Hartsell follow with 13 wins each.

Another close race is on in the owner standings with J.C. Wells, Warner Croft and Joe Kirk Fulton tied for the lead with six wins each. Bob Weik, Los Ladrilleros Horse Racing Co. and D.D. Lightsey are tied with five wins each. D.D. Lightsey remains the leading owner in earnings with $169,404.

James Brooks Sitting on His Second Sam Houston Race Park Riding Title

Quarter Horse jockey James Brooks has all but locked up his second consecutive leading rider title at Sam Houston Race Park. He leads Rodrigo Vallejo by 6 wins heading into the final two days of the meeting.

“Maybe the first time (in 2005) was the sweetest, but this will be pretty special too,” admitted the 55-year-old rider.

That doesn’t stop his fellow riders from engaging in some good-natured fun in the jocks room.

“I’ve spent too much time following him this meet,” said Jeff Jerman, who beat Brooks for the Retama Park riding title in June. “I was getting a little tired looking at his back end.”

Rider John Hamilton perhaps had the best line when he quipped “ever since he opened that AARP card in the mail, he’s been on fire!”

Sam Houston Race Park will present the End of the Meet Awards honoring the top owner, trainer and jockey on Saturday, September 9.

Past Sam Houston Race Park Leading Jockeys

Year - Jockey
1994 - Larry Payne
1995 - Tami Purcell
1996 - Gilbert Ortiz
1997 - Gilbert Ortiz
1998 - Steve Fuller
1999 - Gilbert Ortiz
2000 - Eddie Cox, Jr.
2001 - Alvin Brossette
2002 - J. R. Ramirez
2003 - J. R. Ramirez
2004 - Danny Lavergne
2005 - James Brooks

Trainer Judd Kearl Poised to Pick Up His First Sam Houston Race Park Training Title

American Quarter Horse trainer, Judd Kearl leads Janet Van Bebber by six wins heading into the final twenty races of the meeting. This will mark a true changing of the guard as either Van Bebber or her late husband, Steve, have won every Quarter Horse training title since Sam Houston Race Park opened in 1994.

“We have been blessed in Houston,” said Kearl. “I’ve had great owners and some nice horses that have run to their form.”

This will be the first training title at a Class 1 racetrack for the 31-year-old Kearl, who has won training titles in Idaho and at Manor Downs earlier this year. It will also be a first for Van Bebber as she has reigned supreme at Sam Houston Race Park since 2001.

“People ask if I will be disappointed,” reflected Van Bebber. “I knew in having to make an economic change of my business, that the end result would be reflected in some of my stats. However, it is nice to accumulate earnings and not keep horses that were losing money. It’s great to get your picture taken, but if you lose thousands of dollars in the process, what have you gained?”

Van Bebber has had impressive stats this meet; her horses have finished in the money 57% of the time and she is 20% of her starts. The victory of Snowy Alibi in the $343,305 TQHA Sale Futurity boosted her earnings to $310,325, the highest of any conditioner at the northwest Houston racetrack.

“Texas is still important to me,” added Van Bebber. “I own property here and am as entrenched in Texas as ever. However, the economics of the industry here in Texas does not allow for me to keep a cheaper horse anymore. If that isn’t clear on why we need slots in Texas; it’s black and white. I’ve made several trips to Austin and hope that the legislators will recognize how important VLTs are for Texas racing.”

Live Thoroughbred Racing Will Return in November

Although Sam Houston Race Park will conclude their live Quarter Horse racing season on Saturday, September 9, the northwest Houston racetrack will be open daily for simulcast races across the country. Simulcast action will include the 2006 Breeders’ Cup World Championships from Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 4.

Live Thoroughbred racing will return to Houston on Friday, November 17 at 7:00 p.m. and continue through December 30. Official dates for the 2007 racing season will be released at the end of September.

Simulcasting This Weekend at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park will simulcast coast-to-coast racing action this weekend. On Saturday, stakes include the $200,000 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park and the $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship.

Belmont Park opens on Friday and their Sunday feature is the $300,000 Ruffian Handicap, a Grade 1 stakes for fillies and mares.

back to THBPA Infomation