Jun 2, 2022


The Ten-Race Program Gets Underway at 6:50 pm (Central)

HOUSTON, TX – An exceptional night of Quarter Horse racing is set for Saturday, June 4 at Sam Houston Race Park with six stakes, highlighted by the $649,710 Sam Houston Futurity (G2).  Two features  have been named in honor of prominent Texas horsemen John Buchanan and Leon Bard


$54,000 John Buchanan Memorial Stakes Features Ten Texas-Bred Fillies

The $54,000 John Buchanan Memorial Stakes is named in honor of Texas horseman John Buchanan, who passed away in September, 2020 The resident of Peaster, Texas, was a “hands on” trainer who took extraordinary care of each of his horses throughout a career that spanned over 30 years. He was prominent in each of the Texas racetracks with major stakes wins at Sam Houston Race Park from Pivotal Decision, Gone Celebrating, Lead Story and the diminutive filly, No Fees. Buchanan gained national recognition winning the 1987 All American Futurity (G) with Elans Special, winner with Brimmerton who won the Rainbow Derby and All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs. 


A field of ten Texas-bred fillies will compete in the John Buchanan Memorial Stakes, led by Sissie Nd Bob McClure’s homebred Babes Fdd. The daughter of Fdd Dynasty exits back-to-back victories at Remington Park for trainer Toby Keeton. Installed as the 2-1 morning line choice, the bay filly will break from post nine under rider Bryan Candanosa. Cindi Keeton will handle the saddling duties for her husband and was asked about the 2022 success of Babes Fdd.


“It’s a little bit of everything, but Bryan has played a role,” said Keeton. “He’s a talented young rider and has a really good attitude and work ethic.”


 Born in Dallas, Candanosa learned the ropes from his uncle Adalberto Candanosa, who rode both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses throughout his career. The 21-year-old began riding in 2018, won the first stakes of his career here last summer and has rocketed up the standings in 2022. He won two futurities at Remington Park and is currently the leading Quarter Horse rider in the country by earnings.


Other entrants in the 350-yard feature include Amateur Night, a Kiss My Hocks filly trained by Justin Powell who prepped for this in a $27,000 allowance on May 7. Current Sam Houston Race Park leading conditioner Juan Diaz, Jr. has two fillies in the field.  Kas Shes Ec is a multiple-stakes placed daughter of Ec Jet One and will be ridden by Victor Urieta, Jr. Systymatic drew the rail for Diaz and the daughter of Mr Jess Perry will make her stakes debut under jockey Jose Hebert.


The John Buchanan Memorial will run as the fourth race on the program. Buchanan’s wife, Iris and daughter Amanda, will be at Sam Houston Race Park to present the trophy.

Full Field of Texas-bred Colts and Geldings To Run in the $54,000 Leon Bard Memorial Stakes 

Quarter Horse trainer Leon Bard died on January 5,2022 in Wheelock, Texas, following a courageous battle with cancer. He was 75 years-old. Respected in the Texas Quarter Horse racing community as a skilled horseman and industry leader, Bard was prominent at Sam Houston from 1994- 2021.


Bard saddled 2,275 Quarter Horses since 1993, with purses of $5.9 million. He won a record five editions of the TQHA Sale Futurity(RG1), beginning with Silver Gol in 2015 as well as  Grey Daze (2014), Cartels Pop (2015), Just Another Natural (2017) and Dak (2018). SF Hot Pass, had an exceptional record at the classic distance of  440-yards, including a victory in the 2019 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1). Bard also won the 2017 Sam Houston Futurity(G2) with This Is An Eagle.  His top earner was Gary W. Hartstack’s Zip First ($552,356), winner of the 2002 Ruidoso Futurity (G1).


Ten colts and geldings are entered in the 350-yard stakes honoring Bard. DM Moonpie, a son of Moonin The Eagle bred and  owned by Donna Mushinski, will break from the rail at odds of 3-1. Trained by her husband, Kie, the gray colt exits an allowance victory here on May 20 under rider Luis Vivanco, who has the return call for the stakes. 


“He’s as happy as a horse can be,” stated Kie Mushinski. “We made an equipment change with his blinkers and he responded well.”


Mushinski was a close friend of Bard’s and hopes that Dm Moonpie will get the victory on Saturday night.


“It would be big for me and Donna,” he added. “Leon was a cherished friend for close to 40 years. Leon was a great horseman, but wish more people knew what a big heart he had.”


Crown Horse Racing LLC’s Doc McCrocklin is the high earner in the field with a victory in the 2021 TQHA Sale Futurity. The Dash Master Jess gelding, will break from post position three under Nestor Duran. Jerry Windham’s Hes No Illusion, who finished second to DM Moonpie last month, is also entered. The gelding sired by The Louisiana Cartel is also in pursuit of his first stakes win. Trainer Louis “Tooter” Jordan will give a leg up to jockey Claudio Aguilar. 


The Leon Bard Memorial Stakes will run as the fifth race on Saturday night’s card. His daughters Shelly Burnett and Caryl Merchant will make the presentation to the winning connections.



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