Jun 13, 2024


Presentation of the End of the Meet Trophies Will be Made to the Leading Owner, Trainer and Jockey

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). Accomplished sprinters and experienced distance runners will display their talent throughout the closing night program. In addition, Sam Houston Race Park will pay tribute to trainer Jesse Yoakum, who was a longtime supporter of Texas racing and Willie Hickman, who played many pivotal roles in the Sam Houston racing office. 


Defending Champion Eye Will Decide Returns in the $50,000 Jesse Yoakum Memorial 870 Stakes

An experienced field of distance specialists will enter the starting gate in the $50,000 Jesse Yoakum Memorial 870 Stakes. The race is named in honor of the late Quarter Horse trainer Jesse Yoakum,  who passed away on October 3, 2019, at the age of 69. 


Byron Gardner’s homebred Eye Will Decide is the defending champion. Rider Noe Villatoro has the return call aboard the 6-year-old son of Majestic Cartel. Following his win here last June, he won two additional 870 yard races: the $43,000 San Marcos Stakes at Retama Park as well as a $20,000 allowance at Lone Star Park. Adan Guzman trains the bay gelding, who will break from post position five.

2023 runner-up Ghost Bear has a noted history at Sam Houston Race Park for owner Sarah Huskey. The 7-year-old son of Phantom Menace is trained by Marc Jungers. The striking gray gelding has competed in several 550 yard stakes with a thrilling dead heat victory with Dak in the 2021 Sam Houston 550 Stakes. Raul Hernandez, Jr. rode Ghost Bear in his recent 870-yard prep and will guide him from post eight on Saturday evening.  Huskey and Jungers will team up with Rock Solid Stones, a 5-year-old son of Rock Solid  Jess, bred by Huskey. Jockey Oscar Andrade Jr. has the call.

Yoakum was a strong supporter of Texas racing and had tremendous success at Sam Houston Race Park.  He was a jockey prior to beginning a training career that spanned 30 years and saddled 418 Quarter Horse winners with earnings in excess of $3.2 million. He trained Sam Houston Futurity (G1) winner Beduinos Rusty, Sam Houston Classic (G2) winner A Glint Of Gold, 870-yard specialist, The Field Cricket, Governor's Cup Marathon (G3) winner Doctor Streakin, and Barnmaster Sprint Stakes (RG3) champion Turfinator.


The Jesse Yoakum Memorial will run as the fourth race on the program. Yoakum Yoakum’s wife Sharon, son Jerry Lee along with his wife, Rosslyn and their daughter Jaycee will make the trophy presentation.


Texas Breeder Pete Scarmardo Well Represented in the $50,000 Willie Hickman Memorial

Prominent Texas breeder and owner Pete Scarmardo has run in the $50,000 Willie Hickman Memorial Stakes each year since its inception. He won the 400-yard stakes for accredited Texas-breds last year with Jess the Leader and in 2022 with His Time To Deal.


Scarmardo has two chances to win the feature this year. Jess Good Leader, a 5-year-old son of Jess Louisiana Blue, will be tested by 4-year-old Hes a Jet One, will test his stablemate. Both are trained by John Stinebaugh, with Jess the Leader breaking from the rail under Oscar Andrade, Jr. and Ali Rivera named on Hes a Jet One.


"Both horses are training well, and we would love to win it again, " said  Scarmardo. “I knew Willie for many years; he was a real good guy and a straight shooter who worked hard for the horsemen.”


Morning line favoritism goes to A Famous Ribbon who won the $75,000 Sam Houston Classic earlier this meet for owner Adrian Aleman. Juan Diaz, Jr. will saddle the 5-year-old gelding by One Famous Eagle and give a leg up to rider Victor Urieta, Jr. Donna Mushinski’s Dm Moonpie, who ran second in the Sam Houston Classic and third in last year’s Willie Hickman Memorial,  will be ridden by leading Sam Houston jockey Luis Vivanco. The 5-year-old Moonin the Eagle gelding will make his 27th  career start for trainer Kie Mushinski.


The stakes is named in honor of Willie Hickman, a longstanding member of the racing office. The native of Red Rock, Texas passed away in Houston on March 15, 2022, at the age of 64. Hickman was involved in many roles in the racing community, from training racehorses to serving in a variety of duties in the Sam Houston Race Park racing office for over 20 years. As stall superintendent, and stakes coordinator, Hickman had lasting relationships with horsemen in both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing. He also did an excellent job as jockey agent to rider Alfonso Lujan, who won over 2,100 races prior to his retirement in 2018.


His daughter Cheyenne Hickman Bourgeois and family members including Shyrl O’Banan Hopkins will make the presentation to the winner.


Wide Open Edition of  the $50,000 Sam Houston 550 Stakes Set for Saturday Night

Once again, a very solid group of eight older accredited Texas-breds will compete in the $50,000 Sam Houston 550 Stakes


Defending champion Ontherocks returns for owner Sarah Huskey and trainer Gilberto Gonzalez. Sired by A Revenant, Ontherocks is a perfect five for five at 550 yards and has banked $154,991 in 18 career efforts. Jose Hebert has the call and will break from post position seven.  The morning line favorite is Wicked Bogie owned by Abel Lopez and trained by Arnold Lewis. The 3-year-old Bogart gelding is undefeated this season under rider Eliazar Vera and exits a 550-yard win on May 15. 


Red Reddington will make his first start at this distance but ran second in the 2023 Sam Houston Futurity(G2) at odds of 11-1. Sired by 2014 Sam Houston Futurity champion Kiss My Hocks, Red Reddington is trained by Juan Diaz, Jr. and will break from post two under Victor Urieta, Jr. 

Donna Mushinski’s Dm Preacher Man, trained by her husband Kie, who ran fourth in last year’s edition and Leavinematthebarwho make his 550 yard debut for trainer Toby Keeton,  The 4-year-old son of Power Jam is bred and owned by James Hrabovsky & Leann Nalls and has hit the board in his last four starts.


Ten Talented Sprinters Entered in the $50,000 Sam Houston 250 Stakes

The $50,000 Sam Houston 250 Stakes attracted ten accredited Texas-breds with the victory most likely to result in a photo finish!  Last year’s winner Mo Delirio, who finished in a dead heat with Lucky Larry, returns for owner Manuel Ortiz. Trainer Enrique Alvarado will saddle the 5-year-old Desirio gelding, who also captured the 2023 TQHA 250 stakes at Retama. Ali Rivera will ride the gray gelding from post eight. Mp Just Rip It returns off a third-place finish in the $50,00 Leon Bard Memorial here on May 10. Froylan Ramirez will ride the 3-year-old son of Mr Piloto for owner/trainer Manuel Roman.


Other notables include Laney Fowler’s Hallmarke,  who will be gunning for her sixth lifetime victory. Victor Urieta Jr. will pilot The 5-year-old daughter of Duponte for trainer Miguel Castillo. Sunset Well Service Inc’s Zooming for Muddy won his second career race here on May 11 and returns for trainer Arnold Lewis.


The Sam Houston 250 Stakes will run as race seven, with an approximate post time of 9:18 pm.


Sam Houston Race Park to Simulcast Royal Ascot – June 19-22 

The 30th anniversary Sam Houston Race Park live racing concludes on June 15, but throughout the remainder of 2024, horseplayers can enjoy simulcasting from racetracks across the country as well as special racing festivals in Europe! Next week, Sam Houston Race Park will celebrate one of the most anticipated international racing events, Royal Ascot from Ascot Racecourse in Windsor, England.  Sam Houston Race Park will open at 10:00 am on Wednesday, June 19 and Thursday, June 20; then 8:00 am on June  21 and 22 so that fans can enjoy the pageantry of this esteemed British Racetrack with elite Thoroughbreds from North America, Europe and Japan competing in numerous Group 1, 2 and 3 stakes run over the four-day event. For more information on simulcasting and special events, visit shrp.com.



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.




Photo: Coady Photography