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May 4, 2013


Enthusiastic Houston Racing Fans Enjoy the Simulcast of the 139th Kentucky Derby

Mother Nature was not kind to Louisville, Kentucky, but Houston racing fans enjoyed a gorgeous sunny day with ten live American Quarter Horse races and plenty of festivities in honor of the 139th Run for the Roses

The feature race of the Saturday afternoon card was the $42,873 Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge and Down For A Fortune gave a career-best effort to win the first stakes of her career.

Owned and bred by Pete A. Scarmardo of Caldwell, Texas, the 3-year-old Down N Dash filly won her second race of the year in commanding fashion. She was the third fastest qualifier in trials run on April 19.  Luis Ramirez guided his filly from post position six to the wire of the 350-yard dash in :17.963 seconds.  A minor equipment adjustment was the key to her improved performance, according to trainer, Guy Hopkins.

“The first time we ran her, she ran out to the lead and then look like she got lost,” said Hopkins. “My little brother, Jay, was so smart. He recognized her blinkers might have been too big. We put a smaller set of blinkers on and she’s won two in a row.”

Scarmardo was in Kentucky for the Derby, so his son, Craig and daughter-in-law Ashley accepted the blanket.

“My dad enjoys breeding these horses and we’re glad I could get a win for him while he is out of town,” said his son.

Fastest qualifier Lets Get Silk ran second under rider Ricardo Aguirre. The daughter of Mr Jess Berry is owned by Silvia Robles and trained by Abel Morin.

Longshot Fool Of Nuts was third and Flashfire At Six rallied from the far outside post to complete the superfecta.

Hopkins indicated that Down For A Fortune will make her next start at Retama Park. She returned $18.80 for the win as she earned $19,722, the biggest check in her nine lifetime starts.

Royal Sin Tacha Blazes to the Wire in the Texas Twister
The $15,000 Texas Twister, at 110 yards, returned for its fifth renewal at Sam Houston Race Park. The field of ten speedsters included defending Texas Twister champion, The Hot List, who set a new track record of :6.736 seconds  last year.

This year, the trophy went to Royal Sin Tacha, a 5-year-old son of Ocean Runaway, making his first trip to the winner’s circle since August, 2011.   Bred in Texas by Janet VanBebber and Jerry Gaston, the bay gelding pulled the upset at odds of 19.90-1, rewarding his supporters with a win payout of
$41.80.  Cipriano Vidana had the riding assignment, covering 110-yards in :6.936 over a fast track.

“It’s been a while; we had to turn him out, but he came back good,” said trainer Jorge E. Lopez.  “I won my first official start here one year ago, so I am pretty excited.”

Owner Erick Montes was very proud of the comeback effort of his runner.

“After giving him time off, he came out with a great outcome,” said Montes. “Hopefully we can win another stake, possibly at Delta Downs.”

SS Poker Face Dream was second by a neck, followed by The Hot List and Tinker Lilly.

Tejas Energy B Fastest Qualifier in Trials for the Adequan Texas Derby Challenge
Four trials were run on Saturday afternoon for the $35,000-added Adequan Texas Derby Challenge. The fourth trial produced the fastest time as Tejas Master Jess dominated his rivals by over three lengths, covering 400-yards in  :19.817. The 3-year-old Tres Seis colt is owned by Antonio Delgado, Jr.

Luis Vivanco rode the sorrel colt for trainer Manuel Vega, Jr. He paid $7.00 for the win, earning a Speed Index of 98. Dash Master Jess won the first trial in :19.992 to record the second-fastest qualifying time.

The final of the Adequan Texas Derby Challenge will take place on Saturday, May 18.  For a complete list of the top ten qualifiers, visit

Live racing continues on Friday, May 10 with weekend cards set for Saturday, May 11 and a special Mother’s Day 1:00 p.m. program on Sunday, May 12.

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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