Jun 5, 2023


Trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. Becomes the First Trainer to Win the Sam Houston Futurity Three Times

By Martha Claussen

HOUSTON, TX –Sam Houston Race Park hosted the final of the richest race of the 2023 Quarter Horse meet, the $461,835 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) on Saturday, June 3.  For the past two years, Juan Diaz, Jr. has trained the winner of the prestigious championship for 2-year-olds, and with four qualifiers, the odds were pretty good that he could win his third.  


It was not Gotagogh, his fastest qualifier from the first night of trials, who got the job done. The trophy went to Juan M Lozano’s homebred Jess Flying Cowgirl, who had just made two previous starts, and entered the starting gate as a maiden with the fourth-fastest qualifying time.  That history was not in the mind of the daughter of Flying Cowboy 123 or her jockey, Ubaldo Luna, who had never ridden the filly or won a major futurity. However, when the gates broke, the Texas-bred took command immediately and was able to hold off a determined charge by Red Reddington. She crossed the wire of the 330-yard final in :16.684 seconds over a fast track, breaking her maiden as she earned a speed index of 105.


After the Louisiana Downs meet wrapped in April, Luna headed to Delta Downs, where he is currently the third-leading rider. When he got the call from Juan Lozano, he had a very simple response.


“The owner called me and asked if I would ride in the final in Houston,” said Luna. I told him I would  ask my agent (his wife, Kristen). Then I called him back and said, yes, I would come and ride!” 


Diaz, who won the 2021 Sam Houston Futurity with BH Inx and the 2022 running with Bye Corona Bye,was pleased with the effort of Jess Flying Cowgirl.


“She ran a lot better than people expected,” he said. “She needed her last race to do what she did tonight.”


Lozano bred his mare Traffic Juana to Flying Cowboy 123 and said in his post-race interview that Jess Flying Cowgirl was her last foal.


“We knew it was a tough field; we wanted her to run well, “said Lozano. “I cannot express how proud we are and how grateful we are to the whole team.” 


With Jose Herbert named on Gotagogh and Victor Urieta, Jr. opting for Hardtotempt, Diaz needed a fourth rider and made a call to Luna, who just won the title at Louisiana Downs.


With Colleys Cartel running third under Nestor Duran and Gotagogh completing the superfecta under Victor Urieta, Jr., Diaz was surrounded by a happy contingent in the winner’s circle.


“I have great owners and we are grateful for their support,” added Diaz. “Everybody wanted to win, but we are fortunate to have such great horses. Ubaldo did a great job; just saw the finish line and went for it! We will look at all the individual performances and decide what to do next.” 


Red Reddington, a colt by Kiss My Hocks, outran his odds as the tenth-fastest qualifier under 2022 Sam Houston leading rider Ali Rivera. Trained by Alvin Francis, Jr., he earned $92.367 for his runner-up effort.


B Second Cowboy ran fifth, followed by Hardtotempt, Cr Dmj Policy, Jmg One Hott Eagle and Trixiee. San Lorenzo Queen  was scratched in the paddock.


Jess Flying Cowgirl ($25.40 earned $184,734 and joined a prestigious list of champions. Since its first running in 1994, the list  includes War Colors, Azoom, All American Winner, Snowy Alibi, Especially Tres, Ivan James and This Is An Eagle. Several winners have gone on to national prominence, including  Kiss My Hocks, who won in 2014 and was honored as AQHA Champion 2-Year-Old Colt, and Trump My Record, who was named 2019 AQHA Champion 2-Year-Old Gelding.


Dollar Bill Much the Best in the $51,315 Sam Houston Juvenile

The $51,315 Sam Houston Juvenile was also contested on Saturday evening. The stakes featured American Quarter Horses that competed in trials for the Sam Houston Futurity on May 12 and 13, but did not earn the top ten qualifying times.


Juan Diaz, Jr. saddled the winner, Dollar Bill ($5.00), who earned valuable experience in his second-place finish in the 339,046 Louisiana Downs Futurity (G2) on March 25 and scored a decisive win under rider Jose Herbert. Breaking alertly, the sorrel gelding covered 330-yards in :15.647 seconds. Owned by Celeste Martinez. Tyler and Naia Graham bred the gelding in Texas from the Pyc Paint Your Wagon mare Jakes Painted Wagon.   Hock Tree Special, completed the exacta for owner Jessica Mendez.   Followed by Line Drive DashJust A Piloto, No La Deja, Chilitas, Mr Prize B and Cowgurl UpDashin Hocks and Jb Kool James were both scratched.


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 Entertainment 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