HORSES, TRAINERS AND JOCKEYS ARRIVING FOR THE 2022 SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK THOROUGHBRED MEET
Opening Day for the 50-Day Live Racing Season is Thursday, January 6
HOUSTON, TX –The barns at Sam Houston Race Park are filling on a steady basis as horses are arriving for the 2022 live Thoroughbred racing season. Opening day for the 50-day meet is Thursday, January 6.
When the stable area opened on December 3, trainer Alan Love, Sr. was the first horseman to haul in, with J. R. Caldwell, Tina Hurley and Austin Gustafson among the other early arrivals. Remington Park in Oklahoma City concludes its 2021 Thoroughbred meet on December 17 and many of the trainers have notified the Sam Houston’s racing office that they will ship directly to Houston.
The interest is strong for the upcoming live racing season which will offer $200,000 daily as well as lucrative stakes schedule offering $2,275,000 million in purses.
Sam Houston Race Park will welcome back a solid core of horsemen including Steve Asmussen, who won his 13th Sam Houston title last March. Asmussen started 310 runners, finishing with a record of 70 wins, 38 seconds, 50 thirds and earnings of $1,884,600. He won two stakes this season with 2018 Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) Horse of the Year Direct Dial taking both the $75,000 H-Town Stakes and the $100,000 Star of Texas. Honored by the National Racing Hall of Fame and Texas Hall of Fame, Asmussen is currently ranked second in the North American trainer standings and with 9,571 career victories, is certain to eclipse the 10,000 milestone in 2022.
Other trainers returning include Karl Broberg, Danny Pish, Bret Calhoun, Brent Davidson, Sarah Davidson, Mindy Willis, Dallas Keen, Karen Jacks, Kari Craddock, Frank Lucarelli and Robertino Diodoro. New conditioners for the 2022 Thoroughbred meet include Tom Amoss, Michael Biehler, Shawn Davis, Greg Green and Jaylan Clary.
Clary is the 27-year-old daughter of trainer Mike Neatherlin, who passed away last September due to complications from COVID-19. Neatherlin and the late Roy Cobb campaigned Kip Deville and 2019 Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) Horse of the Year, Mr Money Bags.
Clary is still understandably emotional about the passing of her father.
“I was the only kid in the family who loved horses,” she explained. “Learning from my father was a blessing and I am pleased to take over his stable.”
She will have ten Thoroughbreds stabled here for the upcoming season, most notably, Mr Money Bags.
“It was both an amazing and very sad year,” added Clary. “I am so grateful that Mrs. (Erma) Cobb stuck it out and we look forward to more success with Mr Money Bags. He and jockey Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez are part of our family.”
Mr Money Bags will make his 2022 stakes debut in the $75,000 H-Town Stakes on February 19, but Clary hopes to get a prep for him prior to that seven furlong test.
J. R. Caldwell was second in the standings with 34 victories, including back-to-back stakes victories by Sky Ride. Trainer Austin Gustafson had his best showing this year, winning 29 races and Karl Broberg rounded out the top four conditioners with 22 winners.
Stewart Elliott Hopes to Defend his Leading Rider Title
Last year, Stewart Elliott picked up his first leading rider title at Sam Houston Race Park in pretty much gate-to-wire fashion. The nationally respected veteran rode first call for Asmussen, riding 62 winners from 271 mounts, earning $1,597,545 and finishing in the money at a lofty 55%. The successful union between Elliott and Asmussen began in Houston in 2019 and continued at Lone Star Park and Remington Park. The 56-year-old rider, best known for winning the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes aboard Smarty Jones, has 5,262 lifetime victories and is just the 36th North American jockey to eclipse 5,000 wins.
“This will be my third year in Houston and I am looking forward to it,” said Elliott. “Steve and (assistant) Pablo (Ocampo) do such a great job all the way around. The horses are always well-prepared, so I never have to worry. It’s done the right way.”
Elliott shares that he is still loving his career and has no thoughts of retirement as he heads into his fourth decade as a Thoroughbred jockey.
“I’m feeling really good,” he stated. “I have been very fortunate throughout my career. Other than collar bone, rib and ankle injuries, I’ve never been banged up too badly.”
The highly competitive jockey colony also includes Ry Eikleberry, who made an impressive debut in 2021, winning 42 races to finish second in the standings. Leandro Goncalves also had an excellent meet, with 41 victories, including his 2,000th career race on March 27. Lane Luzzi continues to be one of the up and coming riders in the region. The son of New York veteran jockey Mike Luzzi made 35 trips to the winner’s circle to finish fourth in last year’s standings.
New arrivals in 2022 include Richard Eramia, Jose Alvarez and Freddy Manrique. Eramia notched his 2,500th career win earlier this year and is currently third behind David Cabrera and Stewart Elliott in the Remington Park jockey standings. The multiple-graded stakes winning rider resides in Grand Prairie, Texas and opted to ride the Sam Houston meet this year instead of heading to Oaklawn Park.
Two jockeys who have been Houston fan favorites, DeShawn Parker and Reylu Gutierrez are currently riding at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Parker is a two-time Sam Houston leading rider and Gutierrez made a big impact last year with his skill in the saddle and outgoing personality, will likely make stakes appearances here in the upcoming live season.
Sam Houston Race Park Post Times
The 2022 live racing season opens on Thursday, January 6 at 4:00 pm (CT). Live racing will also take place on Friday and Saturday at 6:45 pm. There will be a special 1:45 pm post time for the Houston Racing Festival on Sunday, January 30. Wednesday cards, beginning on February 16, will be added to the schedule with a 4:00 pm first post. The Thoroughbred meet concludes on Saturday, April 9. A full schedule of post times and special racing events is posted on shrp.com.
About Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. Owned by Penn National Gaming. Inc., the racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions including a Suite Level featuring luxurious suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
Photos: Coady Photography