Belmont Stakes & Bag of Donuts
June 8, 2024
May 8, 2024

FINAL OF THE $102,382 JOHN DEERE JUVENILE CHALLENGE(G3) AND $69,938 ADEQUAN DERBY TO BE CONTESTED FRIDAY, MAY 10 AT SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK

The Winners of Each Will Advance to the Final on October 26 at The Downs at Albuquerque

HOUSTON, TX - The first major stakes night of the 2024 Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse racing season will take place on Friday, May 10.  Five exciting features are on the ten-race program, which gets underway at 6:30 pm (Central).  As previously reported, Friday’s Sam Houston Race Park card will include the $75,000 Sam Houston Classic(G2), $50,000 Leon Bard Memorial and $50,000 John Buchanan Memorial Stakes. Click here to read more on these three stakes.

Wide Open Edition of the $69,938 Adequan Derby Challenge Set as Friday’s Eighth Race

Three 400-yard trials for the Adequan Derby Challenge were contested on April 19 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, who will break from post four at odds of 4-1. 

 

“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.”

 

Tabasco Racing LLC’s B Cn You has been installed as the 5-2 morning line choice for trainer Raul E. Galvan. Rodrigo Vallejo will pilot the colt by AQHA Champion 2-Year-old colt Kiss My Hocks, who notched the third fastest qualifying time.

 

Vodka From Texas, ran third in the 2023 John Deere Juvenile Challenge here and posted the fifth  fastest time of  :19.571  seconds in his trial. Bred and owned by the Terrazas Family, the son of Triple Vodka is trained by Arturo Terrazas, III  and will be ridden by current Sam Houston leading rider Luis Vivanco.

 

The approximate post time for the Adequan Derby Challenge will be 10:00 pm. The winner will earn a berth to the $165,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship(G3) at the Downs at Albuquerque on Saturday, October 26. 

 

Trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. Will Saddle Two 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 to action in Friday’s tenth race.

 

Top Texas trainer Juan Diaz, Jr., won the last two editions of the John Deere Juvenile Challenge.  Last year, it was a dominant performance byStormguard with Apollitical Dynamite winning in 2022 and De Laurentis emerging victorious in 2021. The 35-year-old conditioner will have two quality contenders this year in Blue Eyed Jane and This Eagle is Golden.

 

Victor Urieta, Jr. will pilot Blue Eyed Jane for owner David L. Martinez and jockey Rene Alvizo has the call aboard This Eagle is Golden, owned by Manuel Rivera.

"Blue Eyed Jane has showed potential since we began working our 2-year-olds," Diaz said. "We were excited how This Eagle is Golden ran in his trial; he surprised us! Neither of these races will be easy, but we are looking forward to it. Many of our owners will be in Houston to see their horses compete.”

Peppa, a daughter of the Apollitical Jess stallion Chilitos racing for the Terrazas Family, is the morning-line favorite and will break from the rail under jockey Agustin Silva. She was impressive in her trial, scoring by a neck in a time of :17.713 seconds.

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. 

Bred and owned by Kevin Hogan, the filly by Valiant Hero out of the Tres Seis mare, Tres Royalty. Cindi Keeton will saddle the bay filly, who will reunite with rider Luis Vivanco. Hogan,  who resides in Lubbock, but owns a consulting company specializing in franchising opportunities, makes frequent trips to  Houston. He has run horses on his own and in various partnerships for close to 25 years. He owned Hogan’s Hero’s dam, who sadly, died last August following complications from colic.

“She was a really nice mare,” explained Hogan. “Her family line produced some really fast runners and Toby trained several. He is having a great year, as is Vivanco. We are looking forward to a good race on Friday.”

 The winner will earn a berth to the $140,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) at the Downs at Albuquerque on Saturday, October 26. 

“We look forward to presenting an exceptional night of Quarter Horse racing on Friday night,” said Bryan Pettigrew, Vice President and General Manager of Texas Racing Operations for PENN Entertainment. “This year marks the 30th anniversary of Sam Houston Race Park and we are celebrating many of the legendary Quarter Horses and their connections who have supported Texas Quarter Horse racing.”

 

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/ Lori Ritz Bledsoe

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