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News and Media

April 30, 2014


Reckless Kelly to Perform Following Friday's Races and Special 1 pm Post Time on Saturday, May 3

Sam Houston Race Park will present an action-packed weekend of live racing and the always thrilling simulcast of the 140th Running of the Kentucky Derby. Live racing resumes on Thursday, May 1 at 7:00 p.m.  On Friday, racing fans will be able to enjoy the running of the Grade 1, $1 million Kentucky Oaks from Churchill Downs.  Sam Houston fan favorite Rosie Napravnik will pilot the favorite, Untapable in the Oaks, which runs as the 11th race of the day.
An added treat for fans and families is the return appearance world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales, presented by Anheuser-Busch and Silver Eagle Distributors to Sam Houston Race Park this weekend. The Clydesdales, which feature a hitch of 10 Clydesdales along with lead driver Manny Raber, plus their trusty companion, a 2-year-old Dalmatian named Clyde, will participate in a public “meet and greet” on Friday, May 2nd from 6:00-8:00p.m.  Saturday, May 3rd the Clydesdales will perform live on the track at 12 noon weather permitting. 
Live Quarter Horse racing at Sam Houston Race Park, begins at 7:00 p.m. followed by a performance by Reckless Kelly following the races. To coincide with the Kentucky Derby, Sam Houston Race Park will host a special 1:00 p.m. afternoon live racing program on Saturday, May 3, which will include two stakes, the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2) and the $25,000 Governor's Cup Marathon.

Festivities Set for the 140th Kentucky Derby Simulcast at Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park invites Houstonians to celebrate the heritage, fashion and excitement of racing’s most prestigious day with the 140th Running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 3, 2014. The day-long sporting and social event will include live 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! 

Dubbed "the most exciting two minutes in sports", this year's edition of the Kentucky Derby is shaping up to be a very competitive event. With the second year of the point system in place to determine qualifying positions, Santa Anita Derby champion, California Chrome tops the standings with 150 points. Other Thoroughbreds receiving attention include Vicars in Trouble, winner of the Louisiana Derby with 120 points; Dance With Fate, the Toyota Blue Grass winner with 106 points; Wicked Strong, winner of the Wood Memorial with 102 points and Samraat and Danza, the upset winner of the Arkansas Derby who have each earned 100 points.

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 Sam Houston Classic (G2) and the 870-yard Governor's Cup Marathon, are set for Saturday afternoon.

The schedule of events is as follows:

9:00 a.m.       Gates Open
9:30 a.m.       1st Post from Churchill Downs
11:00 a.m.     Buffet Opens
1:00 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 140th 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 2 from 9:00 a.m. until closing. Fans can also take advantage of "Kentucky Derby Early Bird Wagering" where they can place a bet by driving to the valet parking circle from 7:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 3.

For more information, call 281-807-8760 or visit

Reckless Kelly to Perform Friday Night at Sam Houston Race Park
Reckless Kelly will perform on the Bud Light Stage following live racing on Friday, May 2.  The concert series will be FREE for all guests that purchase $7 general admission tickets to live racing before 8:00 p.m.  Admission will be $20 for guests arriving after 8:00 p.m.  Seating is on a first come, first serve basis.  While at Sam Houston Race Park racing and music fans can take advantage of the Winner’s Circle Restaurant with packages starting at $28.00 including admission before 8pm, and Chophouse Buffet.

Houston Thoroughbred Owner Heads to Louisville to Cheer on Commanding Curve
Earlier this week, Mike Lee, a Houstonian, got a phone call that Thoroughbred owners dream of.  Lee is part owner Commanding Curve, who was announced as the 20th points earner for the 2014 Kentucky Derby.  He became involved with WestPoint Thoroughbreds last year and will be able to root for him this Saturday in the 2014 Kentucky Derby, without a doubt, the most prestigious North American horse race.
Commanding Curve is trained by Dallas Stewart and got into the Derby based on his third-place finish in the $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on March 29. The bay son of Master Command has made six career starts, breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs, before competing in both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby in New Orleans.
Lee is the owner of LHR Services and Equipment, Inc. in Pearland, a safety equipment company serving the energy, offshore and onshore oil & gas exploration, drilling and production industries.

He just became involved in the racing industry last February as part of the group that owns Commanding Curve, and currently has four horses in training.

"It's pretty exciting," states Lee of his first trip to Louisville.  "I think the most amazing part will be walking our horse up and hearing them play My Old Kentucky Home."

Best of luck to Lee and Commanding Curve on the first Saturday in May!

Fiftyshadesofgold to run in the Eight Belles instead of the Kentucky Oaks
Fiftyshadesofgold impressed Houston racing fans here on February 15 when she won the $75,000 Two Altazano.  The talented 3-year-old filly made a successful return to action following an injury last August at Saratoga. Owned and bred by the late Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. and trained by Bret Calhoun, Fiftyshadesofgold won the seven furlong stakes under jockey Rosie Napravnik.

Calhoun was hopeful that his filly would run in the Kentucky Oaks, but her owners opted for Friday's $175,000 Eight Belles.  She will break from post position seven under Mike Smith, and has been installed at odds of 3-1 in the ten-horse field.

"It is probably a conservative decision, based on where the owners felt she had the best chance of winning," said Calhoun from Churchill Downs.  "She is proven at this distance and unknown at a mile and one-eighth."

Calhoun reported that Fiftyshadesofgold has been training forwardly since her last start, a third to Untapable in the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 29.

"She's better than ever," stated Calhoun.

Runaway Wagon to Defend His Title in the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic
A torrential rainstorm did not deter Runaway Wagon in the 2013 edition of the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2).

Despite driving rain, Runaway Wagon broke sharply and drew off to a two-length victory under rider David Alvarez.  Owned by Dr. Tommy Hays and Bobby J. Barnett, the Kansas-bred gelding is no stranger to overcoming adversity.   

As a 2-year-old, he won his trial for the Sam Houston Futurity (G2) and finished third in an All American Futurity (G1) trial, but did not qualify for either. 

Trainer Bobby Martinez is a big fan of the 5-year-old son of Pyc Paint Your Wagon and thinks he will rebound off his seventh-place finish in the Bank of America Texas Challenge here on April 12.

"He's got a lot of heart, that's for sure," adds Martinez. "The Bank of America was tough as he ran in trials for that; we normally like to give him more time between races."

Saturday, he will defend his title against a very competitive field at the “classic” quarter of a mile distance of 440 yards.

Sam Houston Race Park's leading conditioner Judd Kearl won the 2010 and 2012 editions of the Sam Houston Classic with Coming Thru and Nowurtalkin, respectively. This year he will saddle Pyro for owner/ breeder Kathleen O Matey. The 4-year-old son of Make It Anywhere was ran second in the 440 yard Bank of America Texas Challenge. He will be ridden by Jose Alvarez. Other notable entrants include The Field Cricket, who exits a third-place finish in the Bank of America Texas Challenge and multiple-stakes winner, Loves Brown Sugar from the barn of Kie Mushinski. Trainer Trey Wood sends SS Paydirt, who ran fourth in the Sam Houston Derby on April 19.

Distance Specialists Square off in the $25,000 Governors' Cup Marathon
Fire on the Fly, winner of the $50,000 Red Cell New Mexico Distance Challenge at Sunland Park, headlines the field in Saturday's $25,000 Governors' Cup Marathon.  The Bullard Farms homebred has won four of his five starts at the distance of 870 yards for trainer Tommy Bullard. Jockey Jerry Lee Yoakum will pilot the 4-year-old son of Jet Cartel from post position four.

War Khal, who ran fourth in the $125,000 Red Cell Challenge Championship last November at Los Alamitos, drew post position two and will be ridden by Jose Alvarez. Harris County Stakes champion, Roberts Racing Stables’ JRC Callas First and runner-up Corona La Jolla will switch gears from 550 yards for the Governors' Cup Marathon.  Damian Martinez retains the mount aboard JRC Callas First for Brian Stroud and Kie Mushinski will give a leg up to Sam Houston Race Park leading rider, Luis Vivanco aboard Corona La Jolla.

The Governors' Cup Marathon will be run as race nine, approximately a half-hour before the running of the Kentucky Derby.  The Sam Houston Classic is carded as race ten.

Kiss My  Hocks Voted Top 2 -Year-Old in National Quarter Horse Poll
The AQHA National Poll for 2-year-olds made its debut this week and Sam Houston Futurity Champion, Kiss My Hocks landed the top spot.

The Tempting Dash colt, owned by Conda Maze and Tyler Graham set a new track record at Sam Houston Race Park on March 29 and returned with a convincing win in the final of the $563,950 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) on April 19. Trained by Toby Keeton, the talented juvenile will head to Ruidoso Downs and is slated to run in trials for the Ruidoso Futurity on May 22.

The national ranking of 2-year-old Quarter Horses, voted by a panel of industry writers and handicappers, is as follows:

1.         KISS MY HOCKS (99)
2.         PAINT ME PERRY (96)
3.         IM A FANCY PYC (89)
4.         BOI GEORGE (73)
5.         PYB PLACE YOUR BET (49)
6.         WINNING MERLOT (41)
7.         GOTTA RUN MISS (40)
8.         BP DOWN SOUTH (36)
9.         HEMPS JUMPN LA JOLLA (25)
10.       GLIMPSE OF DASH (22)

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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