Jun 12, 2024


The 25-Day Quarter Horse Season Wraps with Nine Stakes

HOUSTON, TX –Sam Houston Race Park will close out its 2024 live racing season on Saturday, June 15 with eleven Quarter Horse races, beginning at 6:30 pm (CT). No rain is forecast for the biggest night of the meet with nine stakes to be contested as well as the presentation of the end of the meet honors for the leading owner, trainer and jockey.


Fastest Qualifier Fire Cowboy Puts Streak on the Line in the $280,450 Sam Houston Derby(G3)

Five 350-yard trials for the $280,450 Sam Houston Derby were completed on Thursday, May 23. It was another successful score for Emmanuel Villarreal’s Fire Cowboy who blazed to victory in :17.905 seconds under jockey Victor Urieta, Jr. The win was the sixth in a row for the son of Flying Cowboy 123, trained by Juan Diaz, Jr. 


Fire Cowboy was bred in Texas by  Edward J and Von Zae McNelis and made his first start here last year in trials for the Sam Houston Futurity. His six-race win streak began on September 1 at Retama Park. He won the $237,00 Evangeline Downs Futurity(G2) on December 15 before taking a well-deserved break until his May 4 allowance victory here.


“Many 2-year-olds are fast, and Fire Cowboy always had speed,” explained Diaz. “The best I can describe what makes him so successful is that he just feels good in his natural state.”


Victor Urieta, Jr.  will guide the even-money favorite from the rail. Diaz, who won last year’s Sam Houston Derby with Triple Racing’s Delight Interest, will also saddle Revolutionaerie (10-1) for owner JJ Sandoval Racing Stables and Carlos Ponce’s Eyes Like an Eagle (15-1). 


Breaking next to Fire Cowboy will be Hesa Gamer won his trial in the second-fastest clocking of :17.594 seconds. The son of Fdd Dynasty, bred in Texas by AQHA Champion breeder Jerry Windham, is owned by Hector Menchaca.  Eleazar Rivera Hernandez has the return call for trainer Leonel Hernandez.


Trainer Toby Keeton, who has already secured the 2024 Sam Houston leading trainer title, will be here Saturday, Currently, Keeton is the top Quarter Horse trainer in the country in both wins and earnings and looks forward to his horses run here on closing night.


The native Texans has two wins in the Sam Houston Derby beginning in 2000 with Bens Coasting and again in 2022 edition with Special Apollitical.


His entrant this year is Jaegar, a son of Apollitical Jess, who notched the sixth-fastest qualifying time of :18.073 seconds. Luis Vivanco, who has already wrapped up leading jockey honors, has the return call for owner Guerras Racing Stables.


“Man, we worked him from the gates this morning and he looked really good,” said Keeton.


Guerras Racing Stables has a second entrant in the final with Swanky B who was tied with the tenth-fastest time of :18.150 and won the shake Trainer Gilberto Gonzalez looks forward to saddling the filly by Jess Good Candy, bred by Bielau Oaks. 


“We were so excited to win the shake,” he said. “She’s a big filly, but always breaks well. We are just hoping for a clean trip; if she runs straight, we believe she has a chance!’


The Sam Houston Derby will run as the tenth race on the card with an approximate post time of 10.42 pm.  The field, in post-position order, including jockey assignments and odds is as follows:


1.      Fire Cowboy(Victor Urieta, Jr.), Even

2.      Hesa Gamer (Eleazar Rivera Hernandez), 9-2

3.      Jaegar (Luis Vivanco), 6-1

4.      Dragones (Claudio Aguilar), 20-1

5.      Swanky B (Oliver Martinez), 30-1

6.      Revolutionaerie (Nestor Duran), 10-1

7.      Princess Chenoa (Jose Alvarez), 12-1

8.      Cr Dmj Policy (Noe Villatoro) 10-1

9.      Eyes Like an Eagle (Juan Pulido) 15-1

10.  Jmg One Hott Eagle (Gaspar Garcia), 20-1


Additional Stakes to be Contested  Saturday, June 15 at Sam Houston Race Park

As previously announced, the $621,810 Sam Houston Futurity(G2)will close out Saturday night’s final program. The following stakes will also be contested:


Race 1             $20,000 Colors of Texas Paint Maturity(G2)               

Race 4             $50,000 Jesse Yoakum Memorial 870 Stakes 

Race 5             $50,000 Sam Houston 550 Stakes  

Race 6             $50,000 Willie Hickman Memorial Stakes  

Race 7             $50,000 Sam Houston 250 Stakes   

Race 8             $50,000 Miss Sam Houston  Stakes  


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: FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok or YouTube.




Photos: Coady Photography