May 29, 2021


Tempting Knockout Takes the $54,000 John Buchanan Memorial and Air To Em Jess Gets Up at the Wire in the $54,000 Tomball Stakes

HOUSTON, TX – Never count out the bond between brothers on the racetrack as Saul and J. R. Ramirez teamed up to win their second stakes race in two weeks at Sam Houston Race Park.


Raul Rubalcava’s homebred Black Cazador, a 5-year-old son of Oak Tree Special from the Shazoom mare Miracle Hock, scored a huge upset here on Friday, May 14 winning the $55,000 Sam Houston Stakes and paying $91! Winning that 350-yard sprint in a driving finish prompted his connections to consider returning for the Sam Houston Classic.

"He pulled up good after the last stakes and we thought he had a good chance at 440 yards," trainer Saul Ramirez said. 

And right he was, as once again, Black Cazador came flying late, surging past Stone Cold Leader by a neck at the wire. His final time  of :21.466 seconds gave him a dazzling 109 speed index over the fast (sealed) track with a 10 mph tailwind. It was the second victory in the Grade 2 Sam Houston Classic for veteran jockey Ramirez, who piloted Toastin Dash for trainer Heath Taylor in 2007.

"I was surprised last time," J. R. Ramirez said of Black Cazador’s upset in the Sam Houston Stakes. "I did not expect him to go off at 45-1! I was kind of worried about him coming back after two weeks but had faith in him. He's got a lot of heart."

Black Cazador, sent off as the third choice in the wagering, paid $8.60 for the win.  He has won six of 21 starts and the Sam Houston Classic winner’s check for $67,200 boosted his career earnings to $176,796.

It was another runner-up finish for Patrick Richardson’s Stone Cold Leader, who ran a game second to Hawkeye in the 2019 edition of the Sam Houston Classic. The 6-year-old son of Brookstone Bay returned in search of his eighth stakes win after capturing two futurities in 2017 at Indiana Grand. He made his presence felt the following year in Louisiana, winning both the Firecracker Derby at Delta Downs and the Evangeline Downs Derby. 

Bryan Candanosa guided Stone Cold Leader from post position eight for trainer Eric Long. It was the first start since November 14 for the Indiana-bred who earned $22,400 to bring his career tally to $557,793.


“One more jump and a little better break would have done it,” said the 19-year-old Candanosa. “He ran really well off the layoff.”

Moment Of Fury, a 5-year-old son of multiple stakes sire Furyofthewind, completed the trifecta.  Hector Alcala conditions the Texas-bred for owner Rogelio Marquez, Jr. 

Katchi Dat, Inaugurator, Dm La Jolla Cartel and Hh Gailforce completed the order of finish. Cajun King, Hot Dam Bam A Lam and Jess B One were scratched.

The Sam Houston Classic had its first running in 1994. The stellar list of past champions, who have achieved success on the racetrack and as broodmares and stallions, include Kool Kue Baby, AQHA world champions Tailor Fit and Jessies First Down, Streakin Sin Tacha and The Louisiana Cartel.


Air to Em Jess Notches His First Career Stakes Victory in the $54,000 Tomball Stakes

Stakes action Friday night began with the $54,000 Tomball Stakes for Texas-bred 3-year-olds.  It was the first tandem of trainer/jockey brothers as Air to Jess Em, notched his first career stakes victory.


Owner and trainer Luis Raul Garcia Nino saddled the gelding by Dash Master Jess out of the Duel Fuel mare Processing Speed. His older brother jockey Gaspar Garcia guided the sorrel gelding between Dash N Leader and Jesslightninglegs, winning the 350-yard sprint by a nose in a final time of :17.913 seconds.


The field was reduced to three runners due to the scratches of Gianniy, El Chocolitito, Lethal Reign and La Inseparable.


"After the scratches it was still a tough race,” said Garcia. “We got lucky. He broke well and we had a good trip; he got to running and did what he needed to do."

Trainer Luis Raul Garcia Nino was pleased with the first stakes win by Air to Em Jess, who had qualified for the TQHA Sires Cup Futurity (RG3) last August.


"The horse has been training well,” said Nino. “We work with him every day and talk about what need to be done. Having my brother ride helps; we are blessed with this win!"

This was the first stakes win for Air to Em Jess ($14.20), who was bred by  Scarlett Hill Farm Inc. He earned $37,260 for the win, which was his second in eight lifetime starts. 


$54,000 John Buchanan Memorial Stakes Goes to Tempting Knockout

Tempting Knockout, under jockey Pedro Espinosa, raced to her first career stakes win on Friday night when she defeated My Rockin Memories by half-a-length in the inaugural running of the $54,000 John Buchanan Memorial Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.


Racing for owner-breeder P&J Racing Ltd. and trainer Leon Bard, the daughter of Tempting Dash out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Passem Up Perry surged to the wire of the 350 yard stakes in :17:592 seconds, aided by a  17 mph tailwind. Jockey Pedro Espinosa had the return call.


Pam and Jim Williams of P&J Racing Ltd. were on hand to accept the trophy.

"Greysland beat us in the TQHA Sale Futurity, but our filly put it all together tonight," said Jim Williams. "She was the first filly stakes winner from our mare (Passem Up Perry). To win the race named in honor of John Buchanan was very special."

It was the second win in seven starts for Tempting Knockout ($7.40), who earned $32,400, boosting her bankroll to $56,158.

My Rockin Memories ran second for owner Sarah Huskey. The daughter of Rock Solid Jess was ridden by J.R. Ramirez. Leading Sam Houston Race Park trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. saddled Greysland to a third-place finish. The daughter rof Kiss My Hocks was the morning line favorite having won the Dash Juvenile last October at Lone Star Park.

Lone Star, Lethal Reign Corona and Miss Money Fling completed the field. A Fleeting Kiss and Pronto Alexa were scratched.

The stakes was named in honor of Texas horseman John Buchanan, who passed away last September. The resident of Peaster, Texas, was a “hands on” trainer who took extraordinary care of each of his horses throughout a career that spanned over 30 years. He was prominent in each of the Texas racetracks with major stakes wins at Sam Houston Race Park from Pivotal Decision, Gone Celebrating, Lead Story and the diminutive filly, No Fees.  


Buchanan’s wife, Iris and daughter Amanda Buchanan Hamilton, made the trophy presentation.


“My father would have been very pleased that Sam Houston Race Park named a race in his honor,” said Amanda. “He supported all the Texas racetracks, but really loved Sam Houston and its track surface, which he always felt was very forgiving for all horses and especially the babies. It’s hard to count all the stakes wins he had in Houston, but we have a lot of great memories here.”


Bh Inxs Wins the $731,650 Sam Houston Futurity (G2)

The $731,650 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) was run as a non-wagering event due to the presence of prohibited medications in six of the finalists, who had earned berths to the final in trials contested on May 7 and 8. 

TYKHE Racing Llc’s Bh Inxs was the winner under jockey Jorge Garcia, prevailing over Hock It To You by a margin of one length, crossing the wire of the 300-yard event in :16.506 seconds. The filly, by Ec Jet One, was bred in  Oregon by Bill Holburg, is trained by Juan Diaz, Jr. 

The statement by Sam Houston Race Park officials, which was released on May 27 can be read in its entirety on this link.

Earlier in the card, Rare B captured the $73,165 Sam Houston Juvenile Stakes, written for the eleventh through 20thtimed entrants who competed in the Sam Houston Futurity trials. Bred by Bielau Oaks, the son of Fdd Dynasty is owned by Jose R. Espinosa and won his Sam Houston Futurity trial in :17.160 seconds under rider Luis Vivanco. He broke well tonight, and held on to win in :16.772 seconds, equaling a 99 speed index.


"Thanks to my owner, entire team and my family,” said trainer Juan Pepe Lopez. “He's been honest since day one. We broke him and he showed his talent; he just needed luck; he got it tonight and ran a perfect race!"


Rare B ($8.80) is paid into both the Dash for Cash and Texas Classic Futurities at Lone Star Park.


Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse Racing Post Times

Racing will take place Thursday, June 3 at 4:00 pm (CT); Friday, June 4 at 6:45 pm and a special 1:00 pm start for the live card and simulcast of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 5. The 23-day meet continues through Saturday, June 12. As approved by the Texas Racing Commission, the 20-day Quarter Horse meet scheduled at Retama Park in Selma, Texas, will take place this year at Sam Houston Race Park from June 23-August 7. 


Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston.  The Park offers a variety of attractions including a Suite Level featuring luxurious suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Jockey Club.  For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visit





Photos:  Coady Photography