|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
“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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
“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
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.