150th Kentucky Derby
May 4th, 2024
Apr 30, 2018


Serendipity Rocks Pulls the Upset in the $191,900 Sam Houston Derby (G3)

It was a glorious evening at Sam Houston Race Park with ideal weather conditions for the richest race of the 2018 Quarter Horse Meeting, the $440,600 Sam Houston Futurity (G2).  Showing even more speed and professionalism than his trial win was fourth-fastest qualifier FM Im A Zatanaz Too who won the final for owner Jose Fabian Hernandez of Georgetown, Texas.


Breaking from the rail under jockey Manuel Gutierrez, the Utah-bred son of Tempting Dash out of the Mister Jess Perry mare Dashingfordestiny drove to the wire of the 330-yard final in:16.823 seconds over a fast track. He earned a speed index of 95, winning by a neck over the fast-closing Patriotic Games.


It was the first stakes win for Hernandez, who was very proud of his horse, trainer Robert Meche and rider Manuel Gutierrez.


“I had bought a few horses in the past, but last year my partners and I purchased 11 yearlings last year at sales in New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana,” said Hernandez. “FM Im A Zatanaz Too was a $35,000 purchase at the Ruidoso Select Sale.
We knew he was a nice horse, but winning this Futurity is amazing.”


Meche, dedicated the victory to his son Jess, a jockey who lost his life in a training accident in Louisiana.


“I know he is watching and he will always be with me,” said the emotional horseman.


Patriotic Games, owned by Ramiro Jaime Flores, Sr. began his year with a runner-up finish in the $238,000 Harrah’s Entertainment Futurity at Louisiana Downs. He was the eighth-fastest qualifier in the Sam Houston Futurity trials, but was a game runner in the final with Rodrigo Aceves up. The son of First Down Dash earned $70,496 this evening, increasing his career bankroll to $113,872 in four starts.


Jose Martinez guided Cadillac Dash to a third-place finish for trainer Saul Ramirez, Jr.  who won the inaugural edition of the Sam Houston Futurity in 1994 aboard A Touch of Victory and added a second win in 2010 with Sixes Liaison. 



“It would have been great to have become the first jockey and trainer to win the race,” said Ramirez. “He ran well, though and improved off his trial race.”


Tenth-fastest qualifier Hesgonnabesomebody completed the superfecta, followed by Moment of Fury, Slyng Schott, Tempting Bye Dash and Jess Master Angel. Sadly, Elite Five fell in mid-stretch, sustaining a leg injury and had to be euthanized. His rider Noe Villatoro survived the fall and was able to walk to the jocks room. Dominyun Tee Off was an early scratch.


Sent off as the post-time favorite, FM Im A Zatanaz returned $6.20 for the win and joined a distinguished list of Sam Houston Futurity champions, including 2014 AQHA Champion 2-year-old colt, Kiss My Hocks; Azoom; Snowy Alibi, Ivan James, Especially Tres and This Is An Eagle.


Hernandez picked up a check for $176,240 and indicated that he might send his gelding back to Ruidoso Downs this summer to compete in one of their rich futurities.



Serendipity Rocks Scores in the $191,000 Sam Houston Derby (G3)

While the inside posts have produced an exceptional number of winners this meet, Serendipity Rocks rallied strongly from post position eight to capture the $191,900 Sam Houston Derby (G3).


Bred and owned by Sarah Huskey, the son of Rock Solid Jess powered to the wire of the 350-yard final in :17.816 seconds, defeating Kas Tempting by a head. Noe Villatoro rode the winner, who is trained by Esteban Rubio.


“I was really worried about being on the outside,” said Huskey. “But Rubio told me not to worry about it!”


The gray gelding, who was making his fifth career start, was the fourth-fastest qualifier in trials run on April 13.


“I knew as long as Noe was riding, he would win,” said Huskey. “Noe has never been beaten on him.”


Huskey is the daughter of Texas horseman Fletcher Huskey, who is 84.


“I wish he could be here today,” she said of her father. “Hopefully he can see him run later this year at Lone Star.”


Kas Tempting, a son of Tempting Dash owned by Garza Laurel Partnership, LLC, set the fastest qualifying time in trials for the 2017 Sam Houston Futurity, running fifth in the final to This Is An Eagle. Trained by Saul Ramirez, Jr. Kas Tempting, was ridden by Raul Ramirez, Jr, a cousin of the conditioner.


Washta Magnolia ran third under Manuel Gutierrez, followed by Schutts, Special Lil Darling, Tempting Pink, This Is An Eagle, Jess Rockin Thunder, A Sweet Dynasty and One Jess Streakin.


Serendipity Rocks went to the gates at odds of 15-1, rewarding his supporters with a win payout of $32.60. He earned $76,760 for his first graded stakes and will likely make his next start at Retama Park and then onto Lone Star, according to his owner.


Jet Black King Cruises in the $44,060 Sam Houston Juvenile

The $44,060 Sam Houston Juvenile, at 330 yards, ran as the first of three stakes on Saturday evening. The field was comprised of 2-year-olds that competed in trials for the Sam Houston Futurity three weeks ago but did not qualify in the top ten.

It was a standout performance by Jet Black King, ridden by Eleazar Hernandez, who closed with authority in a final time of :16.968 seconds.

The son of Jet Black Patriot is owned by Filimon Saucedo and trained by Juan Carlos Saucedo. He drew the rail and impressed his rider.


"He improved very much from his trial," said Hernandez


Jet Black King paid $13.20 for the win and remains undefeated in his two career starts.



Sam Houston Race Park, Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, is located just 15 miles from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including 16 luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and Jockey Club.  For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.



Photo​s:  Coady Photography​