Print        Sign Up for the SHRP Insider

News and Media

Weighing In with Martha Claussen
November 14, 2012 – Texas Tidings

Skip A Smile -
Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Judd Kearl -
Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Live racing will return to Sam Houston Race Park on January 18, 2013, but stay in touch with timely industry news and updates on the top Texas horses, trainers, jockeys and breeders in this bi-monthly posting by Martha Claussen.


Eric Johnston Makes Rounds at Breeders' Cup for the Houston Ladies Classic

Eric Johnston, Sam Houston Race Park's vice-president of racing, made a trip to Santa Anita on Breeders' Cup weekend to talk to horsemen about the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic. The new stakes at Sam Houston Race Park will take place on Saturday, January 26, 2013 as part of a prestigious evening which will include the Grade III,$200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup.

Johnston had an opportunity to visit with many nationally recognized trainers including Bill Mott, Todd Pletcher, Barclay Tagg, Mike Trombetta, Mark Casse, Buff Bradley and Steve Asmussen, whose filly, My Miss Aurelia, was a game runner-up to Royal Delta in the Grade 1, $2,000,000 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic on November 2.

"I was pleased that our media blitz had been well-received," said Johnston. "Each of the horsemen knew of the Houston Ladies Stakes, which was pretty impressive."

Much more to come on the 2013 Houston Ladies Classic, which is part of the 20th Annual Live Racing Season at Sam Houston Race Park. Live racing will return to Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, January 18 with Texas Champions Weekend.


Skip A Smile Victorious in the Texas Racing Hall of Fame Stakes at Retama Park
Skip A Smile Retama Park rolled out the red carpet on Saturday, November 10 for the 2012 Texas Racing Hall of Fame. One of the featured races was the running of the 50,000 Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Stakes and Skip A Smile, owned and bred by Rose Mary Chandler, emerged victorious. Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Jamie Theriot, the 5-year-old son of Skip Away won the mile and one-sixteenth turf stakes in 1:44.25.
Skip A Smile was named the 2011 Texas Horse of the Year by the Texas Thoroughbred Association. He has won $402,249 with nine wins from 24 starts, including the $50,000 Richard King Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on January 22, 2011. The dark bay gelding also competed in the 2012 Star of Texas Stakes last January.

Pledge Your Support for Let Texans Decide

Horsemen and racing fans can show their support for Texas racing by supporting Let Texans Decide! The campaign is a coalition of state business leaders, horsemen, community organizations, and Texas citizens committed to passing legislation at the Texas Capitol that will put expanded gaming on the ballot for the voters of Texas to decide. The mission is to press state leaders to pass legislation outlining a responsible, conservative plan for gaming and provide citizens the opportunity to vote on where Texas dollars get spent. 

Racing fans can get involved by writing letters to their legislators or simply signing an online petition. Over 3,400 Texans have signed it already; it is as simple as clicking on this link. Let your voice be heard so that tax dollars can remain in Texas for jobs, healthcare and education. Texas racing and breeding needs your support!
Judd Kearl Wins His First Million Dollar Stakes

Judd Kearl, Sam Houston Race Park's leading Quarter Horse conditioner had two finalists in the $1 million Judd KearlTexas Classic Futurity last Saturday at Lone Star Park. Going into the race, he gave the edge to his colt, Pyc Kant Katch Me, but it was the filly, Valiant Lil Lady who dazzled in the 400-yard final.

Owned by Bryon Gardner of New Waverly, Texas, Valiant Lil Lady became the first filly to win the Grade 1, $1,00,000 Texas Classic Futurity in its 20 year history. Cody Jensen had the mount aboard the Texas-bred filly, who broke beautifully and held on for the victory. Big Boi finished a head behind in second, and it was another half-length back to Pyc Kant Katch Me, with Rodrigo Vallejo in the irons.  

Valiant Lil Lady was bred by Bob Gaston and his wife, Jerry. It was their second homebred to win the Texas Classic as Bodacious Dash won the million dollar event in 2010.

Of course, it was a huge milestone for Kearl, whose biggest career victory was the $400,000 Sam Houston Futurity with Jess Tee Off.

"It was pretty cool," acknowledged the 37-year-old conditioner. "I had my eye on Pyc Kant Katch Me who got knocked around out of the gate. But the filly shot out of there like a rocket. She was amazing."

Valiant Lil Lady was purchased at the 2011 Heritage Place Sale for $27,000. She has won four of her five career starts and bankrolled $485,163. Saturday's paycheck was $432,533.

"I was happy for the Gardners, the Gastons and my team for all their hard work," said Kearl. "Normally, I don't smile too much in the winner's circle, but I couldn't stop smiling on Saturday night!"
Kearl will not have time for a vacation. He loaded up the vans from Lone Star Park and many of his horses will get a well-deserved rest on his farm in Madisonville, Texas. He will also ship a string to Hialeah Park near Miami for their upcoming Quarter Horse meet.

Katy's Doug Traylor Has a Finalist for the $1 Million LQHBA Futurity on Saturday

Doug Traylor, a roofing contractor from Katy, Texas, who has run Quarter Horses at Sam Houston Race Park, could be sitting on a big payday Saturday, November 17 at Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino.  His colt, Dashin Gage, is one of ten finalists for the $1,000,000 LQHBA Breeders Futurity.

Trained by Kenneth Roberts, Dashin Gage will be ridden by Stevie Gillum and has been installed at odds of 6-1. Janet VanBebber picked him out at the 2011 LQHBA Yearling Sale and Traylor signed the ticket for $10,000.  He has already won $135,893 and the winner's share of the final on Saturday evening is $445,000 and even the tenth-place runner will earn $25,000.

In the game as an owner for just five years, Traylor has enjoyed some lucrative racing results this year. Just Wanna Corona, who made his career debut at Sam Houston Race Park on April 5 for Sam Houston's leading trainer, Judd Kearl, qualified and ran in the $2.4 million All American Futurity on Labor Day at Ruidoso Downs.

"This year has been a blessing for us," admitted Traylor. "We're very happy with the way our horses have run."

Post time for Evangeline is 5:40 p.m. (CT) and the LQHBA Breeders Futurity will run as the ninth race on the card, with an approximate post of 9:00 p.m.

Racing fans can watch and wager on the action from Evangeline Downs at Sam Houston Race Park. For a complete list of post times as well as stakes races at tracks across the country, visit

Plan Your Next Event

Our conveniently located, multi-functional facility can comfortably accommodate 10 to 10,000 for business, pleasure or a combination of the two!

Find out how to book a group party.