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News and Media

May 1, 2013


Saturday's Derby Day Festivities, presented by Champion Energy Services, Include  Special 1 pm Post Time

Sam Houston Race Park will present an action-packed weekend of live racing and the always thrilling simulcast of the 139th Running of the Kentucky Derby. Live racing resumes on Thursday, May 2 with ten trials for the $25,000-added John Deere  Texas Juvenile Challenge. On Friday, racing fans will be able to enjoy the simulcast of the Kentucky Oaks from Churchill Downs and live racing, beginning at 7:00 p.m. followed by a performance by legendary Texas country artist, Roger Creager.To coincide with the Kentucky Derby, Sam Houston Race Park will host a special afternoon live racing program on Saturday, May 4, which will include the $42,873 Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge and the $15,000 Texas Twister

Festivities Set for the 139th Kentucky Derby Simulcast at Sam Houston Race Park, presented by Champion Energy Services
Sam Houston Race Park invites Houstonians to celebrate the heritage, fashion and excitement of racing’s most prestigious day with the 139th Running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 4, 2013. The festivities for the day-long sporting and social event at Sam Houston Race Park are presented by Champion Energy Services.

Patrons will enjoy Live American Quarter Horse racing, simulcast of the entire race card from Churchill Downs, a $500 Hat Contest, with winners selected by a panel of celebrity judges, traditional Mint Julep cocktails served in a  commemorative Kentucky Derby glass and official Kentucky Derby merchandise.

"This is always an exceptional day, with something for everyone," said Andréa Young, Sam Houston Race Park's president. "In addition to live racing and the simulcast of the Kentucky Derby, fans can enjoy wonderful food and beverage offerings and showcase their most creative hats for a chance to win $500."

The schedule of events is as follows:

9:00 a.m.       Gates Open
9:30 a.m.       1st Post from Churchill Downs
11:30 a.m.     Buffet Opens
12:00 p.m.     Hat Contest Registration Begins
1:00 p.m.       1st Live  Sam Houston Race
3:00 p.m.       Hat Contest Judging Begins
5:24 p.m.       Running of the 139th Kentucky Derby

For those fans unable to be a part of the festivities on Saturday, Sam Houston Race Park will offer advance wagering on Friday, May 3.  Fans can place a bet by driving to the valet parking circle from 7:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.  "Kentucky Derby Early Bird Wagering" will also be available on Saturday, May 4  beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Roger Creager, Presented by ABC Home & Commerical Services, Performs Friday Evening in the Spring Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park

The 2013 Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park continues with Roger Creager performing Friday on the Bud Light Stage following live racing.

New to this year’s concert series will be FREE concert admission for all guests that purchase $6 general admission tickets to live racing before 8:00 p.m. Admission will be $20 for guests arriving after 8:00 p.m.

Popular alternative rock band Blue October kicked of the 2013 music series on  Saturday, March 30. A total of six artists will perform on Friday and Saturday nights during the current meet with Kevin Fowler,  presented by Auto Nation,  wrapping up the series next Saturday, May 11.

Trace Seis Returns in Trials for the $25,000-added John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge on Thursday Evening
Ten trials for the $25,000-added John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge have been drawn for the Thursday, May 2 card at Sam Houston Race Park.

Trace Seis, fastest qualifier in the richest race of the 2013 Quarter Horse meet, the $452,800 Sam Houston Futurity (G2), returns to action in the fifth trial, The daughter of Tres Seis will be ridden by Cipriano Vidana, for owner and trainer Jose R. Espinosa of Mission, Texas.

Espinosa had an explanation for his filly's ninth-place finish in the Sam Houston Futurity.

“She went into her heat cycle at 6:30 a.m. the morning of the final,” said Espinosa. “It was just one of those bad timing situations that can happen.”

But Espinosa is encouraged that Trace Seis came out of the final in good shape and should give a good account of herself on Thursday evening.

"She's very sound, and has always been a fast breaker from the gate," said her conditioner, who has five additional horses running in trials. "It will be a busy night, but I am looking forward to it."

Several other trainers have multiple entrants in the John Deere Juvenile trials including Guy Hopkins, who will saddle seven 2-year-olds. Chromio, a son of Ivory James, owned by Michael Amburn, was an impressive winner on April 5.

The ten fastest qualifiers will return on Saturday, May 18 for the final and the opportunity to represent Texas in the $150,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) at Los Alamitos Race Course on November 9.

Rescheduled Challenge Stakes Highlight the Friday Evening Card
The Saturday, April 27 live Quarter Horse race card was canceled at Sam Houston Race Park due to heavy rain and thunderstorms in the greater Houston area. Two stakes, that were to have been contested last Saturday, have been rescheduled for Friday, May 3.

The draw for the $27,540 Merial Texas Distaff Challenge and the $24,120 Zoetis Sam Houston Starter Allowance Challenge took place on Tuesday, April 30. 

The Zoetis Sam Houston Starter Allowance Challenge, at a distance of 350-yards, will be run as the seventh race on Friday evening.  The race is for Bank of America Racing Challenge-enrolled horses that have started for a claiming price of $5,000 or less within 12 months prior to the sustaining/late payment deadline.

DW Runaway B, the fastest qualifier in trials run on April 14, will break from post position ten under leading Sam Houston rider Luis Vivanco.   The 4-year-old son of Ocean Runaway is owned by Robert Guzman and trained by Manuel Vega Jr.  Juan Saucedo will saddle second-fastest qualifier, Ocean Bank owned by his father, Filimon Saucedo. Eleazar Hernandez will retain the mount on the Texas-bred gelding.

The winner of the Starter Allowance Challenge will earn a berth to the $75,000 Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos on November 9.

A field of ten fillies and mares will compete in the Merial Distaff Texas Challenge. The field for the 400-yard dash features several stakes winners as well as some talented, but lightly raced fillies.

Last year’s Merial Distaff runner-up, Bertha Venation is the high earner in the field with $175,591 in career purses. The 6-year-old daughter of Corona Caliente is owned by Jose Luis Salazar and trained by Erika Huitron. She has won nine of her 24 starts, including the $42,000 Merial Texas Distaff Challenge last September at Lone Star Park. Jockey Santos Carrizales looks forward to a strong performance from the Arkansas-bred mare.

“She is a gutsy mare,” said Carrizales. “She gives100% every time and the distance of 400 yards is perfect for her.”

The field will also include two track record holders at Sam Houston Race Park:
Sarah Must and Sweet Oblivion. Sarah Must set a new 350-yard record (:17.238) here on March 30, 2012. Owned by J. T. Hooten and Jesse Yoakum, the 4-year-old Jet Cartel filly will be ridden by Jerry Lee Yoakum

Sweet Oblivion, a well-bred daughter of Mr Jess Perry holds the 300-yard record of :15.101. Owned and bred by Joe Kirk Fulton, the speedy gray filly also made her 2013 debut in the Silestone Stakes, running second to Shakemdontbreakem.  Regular rider, Jose Alvarez, will remain aboard.

“She needed that race,” said her trainer, Mike Robbins. “I was encouraged that she was really running well at the end. She came out of the race in good shape and is doing great.”

The Merial Texas Distaff Challenge is set as the ninth race on Friday with an approximate post time of 10:06 p.m. (CT). The winning mare will represent Texas in the $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at Los Alamitos on November 9.

Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge and Texas Twister to be Contested on Saturday Afternoon at Sam Houston Race Park
Houston fans will have an opportunity to enjoy all the Kentucky Derby festivities as well as live American Quarter Horse racing. The afternoon card begins with a special post time of 1:00 p.m.  Two stakes, the $42,873 Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge and the always exciting 110-yard Texas Twister, are set for Saturday afternoon.

Fastest qualifier Lets Get Silk leads the field in the Bank of America Maiden Challenge. The daughter of Mr Jess Berry topped four qualifying trials two weeks ago at Sam Houston Race Park. Owned by Silvia Robles, the 3-year-old filly is trained by Abel Morin and drew post position eight for the final. Jockey Ricardo Aguirre retains the mount.

The $15,000 Texas Twister, at 110 yards, returns for its fifth renewal at Sam Houston Race Park.

Eric Johnston, vice president of racing, tested the waters in 2009 for the Texas Twister, in which the contenders battle to the finish line in less than seven seconds. 

"The race has been well-received by horsemen every year," said Johnston. "It gives racing fans an opportunity to see the explosive power of American Quarter Horse racing."

Defending Texas Twister champion, The Hot List, trained by Yasmine Fierro set a new track record last year, blazing to victory in :6.736 seconds. five wins from eight starts.   The talented gelding is owned by Eleazar Martinez, Sr

The 5-year-old son of  Streakin La Jolla returns to action with a record of. and will break from post position one with Santos Carrizales in the irons.

Saturday's live card will also feature four trials for the Adequan Texas Derby Challenge.

Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings
Juan Carlos Saucedo remains in first place in the trainer standings in the 2013 Quarter Horse meet at Sam Houston Race Park with nine wins.  Five-time leading Sam Houston conditioner,  Judd Kearl, Manuel Vega, Jr. and Trey Wood are tied for second with eight wins each. Mike Robbins and Jose S. Espinosa have each saddled six winners.

2011 Sam Houston Race Park leading rider Luis Vivanco added five wins last week to further his lead as he aims to earn his second leading jockey title. Vivanco has 19 wins with Ricardo Aguirre second with 13 victories and Santos Carrizales in third place with 12 wins. Last year's leading rider Rodrigo Vallejo follows closely with 11 trips to the winner's circle and David Alvarez rounds out the top five jockeys with 10 wins.

Jose S. Espinosa is the leader in the owner standings as his horses have won four races since the Quarter Horse meet began on March 28.  Antonio Delgado, Jr., Michael Amburn and Meryl and Joe Kirk Fulton are tied for second with three wins each.

Jack Coady,Sam Houston Race Park Photographer Receives Honor
Sam Houston Race Park photographer, Jack Coady, divides his time between several racetracks throughout the year. On Sunday, April 28, Coady was honored with the “Friend of the Horsemen” award by the Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association.

Since 1989, Jack has made more than 20,000 trips to the winner’s circle at Prairie Meadows and was inducted into the Prairie Meadows Hall of Fame in 2011.

He was taking photos of the winning recipients at the annual Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association Awards Dinner, and never expected that he would be called to the stage on Sunday evening.
"I was very surprised, but extremely honored," said Coady. " I really enjoy what I do at great tracks including Prairie Meadows and Sam Houston Race Park.  I had no idea I was going to receive an award, but am very grateful."

Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 minutes from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including 16 recently renovated luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Champion Energy Services Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit

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