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Trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. Saddled the Winners of Both Finals

HOUSTON, TX - The $102,382 John Deere Juvenile Challenge (G3) and $69,938 Adequan Derby took place at Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, May 10. The grandstand and track apron were filled with Texas Quarter Horse fans rooting for their favorites and both finals were tremendously exciting!


Gate to Wire Victory for Frankie Jr in the $69,938 Adequan Derby Challenge 

Three-year-olds who had run in 400-yard trials on April 19, returned to action in the $69,938 Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge. Second fastest qualifier Frankie Jr, notched his first career stakes victory in a driving finish under rider Victor Urieta Jr.


Juan Diaz, Jr. trains the gelded son of Kas Tempting out of the Stoli mare Fear This Stoli.


Frankie Jr hadn't won a race since his second start in the Old South Futurity trials last May at Delta Downs, but owner Jimmie Rodriguez felt he was more than capable of the victory.


"He's had six months since he last ran and we knew he was going to do so much better,” he said. “We were really excited about this one and knew he would come through. Juan is a great trainer. We put a lot of trust in him."


Frankie Jr ($7.40) was bred in Texas by the partnership of Angel, Laurel and Garza.


Longshot Native Country Chick, ridden by Jose Herbert, came very close to winning the final at odds of 29-1 for owner Maria Teresa Ugarte. The filly sired by Mr Fulton was making her seventh career start for Ricardo A. Vallejo.  Ensignia, the fastest qualifier from three trials on April 19, completed the trifecta under jockey Oliver Martinez. The $29,000 TQHA Sale graduate is owned by Guerras Racing Stables and trained by Gilberto Gonzalez. .B Cn You, Kas Tuff Lbh, This Is An Aguila, Vodka From Texas, Power Intriguing, and Flying First completed the order of finish. Lefty, who ran in the Leon Bard Memorial earlier in the evening, was scratched.

With his victory in this regional final. Frankie Jr is eligible to compete in the $165,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship(G3) at the Downs at Albuquerque on Saturday, October 26. 


Trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. Keeps Win Streak Alive with a Victory by Blue Eyed Jane in the $102,382 John Deere Juvenile Challenge (G3)

Five 350-yard trials for the $102,382 John Deere Juvenile Challenge were contested on April 19 with a talented field of 2-year-olds returning for the final. 


Top Texas trainer Juan Diaz, Jr., notched his fourth title in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge, with an impressive victory Blue Eyed Jane, who crossed the wire of the 350-yard dash in :20.001 seconds under jockey Victor Urieta, Jr. The duo won four of the ten races on the Friday night card, sweeping the final three stakes.


It was a maiden breaking effort for the daughter of Tarzanito out of the Jess Louisiana Blue mare Blue Eyed Fance.


 David L. Martinez, who purchased the filly at the TQHA Yearling Sale for $16,500, made the trip from San Antonio with his family and spoke about the thrill of winning a second Challenge final.


"We won this race five years ago at Retama Park, and we are so happy to win again," said Martinez. "There are no words to describe how awesome it is. I owe everything to Juan and his team. "I saw a lot of horses. (Buying a horse) is a process, and don't listen to anybody; just go with your eye and whatever your heart tells you."


Diaz was pleased with her trial performance and expected a good effort from his filly. 


 "When preparing for the finals, we do exactly what we did in the trials,” stated Diaz. “We hope for a great break and Victor rode her perfectly. I always brag about our jockeys being a part of the success; only they know what they see up there," 


Blue Eyed Jane, sent off as the second choice in the wagering, paid $8.00 to win. 


Valerie Moya bred Blue Eyed Jane in Texas out of Mardi Gras Futurity winner Blue Eyed Fance.


Trainer Toby Keeton qualified five juveniles to the final, with four headed to Ruidoso Downs to prepare for their 2024 live racing season. Keeton’s lone starter will be Hogans Hero, who ran second to Peppa in their trial heat. Luis Vivanco was aboard the daughter of Valiant Hero, out of the Tres Seis mare, Tres Royalty.


"She ran well; finished up strong," said Vivanco.


Hiclass Bonita, ridden by Oliver Martinez, placed third, followed by Run Nellie Run, Pirata Jess, Keep It Texas Royal, This Eagle Is Golden, Peppa, Beauty by Corona andDna.

Blue Eyed Jane earned a berth to the $140,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) at the Downs at Albuquerque on Saturday, October 26. 

Preakness Events Announced at Sam Houston Race Park

Fans are invited to enjoy a great day of racing and entertainment on Saturday, May 18 at Sam Houston Race Park. Gates will open at 8:00 am so fans can enjoy the entire Pimlico Race Course card, highlighted by the middle jewel of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, the149th running of the Preakness Stakes. Live Quarter Horse racing gets under way at 1:00 pm followed by Josh Ward in concert with special guest, Huser Brother Band. Admission is just $5.00. For more information, visit


About Sam Houston Race Park

Operated by Penn Entertainment Inc., Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles northwest of downtown Houston. The racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions for businesses, group outings and families during racing and the off-season. The track is best known for its award-winning dining and features multiple areas for fans looking for casual to upscale dining options including its Winner’s Circle Restaurant, Jockey Club, Luxury Suites and Pavilion Centre. For more information or tickets to upcoming live racing, shows and events, please visit or follow on: FacebookInstagramTwitterTick Tok or YouTube.




Photos: Coady Photography/ Lori Ritz Bledsoe