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ENSIGNIA AND AGUILA RAPIDA SET FASTEST QUALIFYING TIMES IN OPENING NIGHT AQHA CHALLENGE TRIALS AT SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK QUARTER HORSE LIVE RACING SEASON

Opening Weekend of the 2024 Quarter Horse Meet Resumes on Saturday, April 20 at 6:30pm (Central)

HOUSTON, TX - The 2024 Quarter Horse racing season at Sam Houston Race Park, presented by 811 Call Before You Dig, is off and running. An enthusiastic crowd was on hand for the track’s opening night festivities on Friday, April 19.

Ensignia Posts Top Clocking in Trials for the Adequan Derby Challenge

Three 400-yard trials for the Adequan Derby Challenge were contested with  Guerras Racing Stables' Ensignia winning the second trial in :19.575 seconds, to set the fastest qualifying time under jockey Oliver Martinez.  Bobby D. Cox bred the son of Duponte who was sold for $29,000 at the 2022 TQHA Yearling Sale. The trial victory was the third win from 11 lifetime starts for the gelding trained by Gilberto Gonzalez .

 

“He was impressive”, said Gonzalez of Ensignia. “In the beginning of last year, he had ankle surgery, and we did not want to push him. This year, the riders have told me that he is running better in each race. (Jockey) Oliver Martinez rode for me last year at Lone Star, but did not come to Louisiana Downs earlier this year. He is a good rider and we are happy to have him in Houston.”
 

Here is a list of the ten qualifiers who will return for the $40,000-added Adequan Derby Challenge final here on Friday, May 10.

 

Aguila Rapida Sets Fastest Time in Five John Deere Challenge Trials

Opening night also featured five trials for the John Deere Juvenile Challenge(G3) and prominent Texas horseman Toby Keeton qualified four to the final with Anguila Rapida winning the first trial in :17.797 seconds, into an 8 mph headwind. 

 

Simmons Racing and Donnie Griffin bred Aguila Rapida from Tempting Dash out the of One Famous Eagle mare Eyema Eagle. He unseated his rider after the finish line and was brought back to the winner's circle by the outrider. Vivanco, who qualified each of the Keeton trainees, was not injured.

 

Cindy Keeton, wife of trainer Toby Keeton, who manages the Sam Houston string while Toby is running their horses at Remington Park, saddled Anguila Rapida.

 

"We expected a good performance from him," said Cindy Keeton. "Toby was asked by breeder John Simmons to come look at the babies and Anguila Rapida was one of the ones Toby liked. He was difficult to break, which is why we had to cut him.  You saw what he did to (Luis) Vivanco; that's how he is! But He's extremely fast!"

 

Keeton also added how pleased she was to qualify two runners, Kiss My Legs Bye and Poochies Candy, from the Lovely Legs mare.

 

"We were also very proud that Kiss My Legs Bye and Poochies Candy qualified," added Keeton. “To get two really good runners from the same mare is very special.”

 

Click here for more information on the ten John Deere Juvenile Challenge finalists, who will run next at Sam Houston Race Park in the final on Friday, May 10. 

 

Live Racing Continues on Saturday, April 20

On Saturday, April 20, Sam Houston Race Park will host the $23,000 Shannon Jewelers Diamond Dig with fans making their way to the racetrack to “dig” for ten amazing pieces of jewelry!  The items range in value from $350 to $4,080. There is no fee to enter; just ditch the fancy shoes and get ready to “dig” following the fourth and sixth races of the evening! Post time for the nine-race card is 6:30 pm. The 25-day Quarter Horse season runs through Saturday, July 15. A list of dates and events is posted on shrp.com.

 

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 www.shrp.com or follow on: FacebookInstagramTwitterTick Tok or YouTube.

 

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Photos: Coady Photography

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