SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK HONORED LONGTIME TEXAS TRAINERS LEON BARD AND JOHN BUCHANAN ON SATURDAY, JUNE 3
Jockey Froylan Ramirez Piloted Both Lipstick Promise and Tic It to the Dance to Victory
HOUSTON, TX – An exceptional night of Quarter Horse racing took place Saturday, June 3 at Sam Houston Race Park, highlighted by the final of the $461,835 Sam Houston Futurity (G2). Two features were also contested honoring John Buchanan and Leon Bard, who were involved in Quarter Horse racing prior to the passage of pari-mutuel racing in Texas and prominent at Sam Houston Race Park when the track opened in 1994 until their passing. Many breeders, owners, trainers, and jockeys were in attendance and shared memories with the Buchanan and Bard family members.
Lipstick Promise Dazzles in the $54,250 John Buchanan Memorial Stakes
A field of eight Texas-bred fillies went to the starting gate in $54,250 John Buchanan Memorial Stakes 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 by 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.
Lipstick Promise scored the upset under jockey Froylan Ramirez, closing from the far outside post to win the 350-yard event in :17.718 seconds, earning a 98 speed index.
Trainer Kie Mushinski was proud of the daughter of A Revenant, who won her first stakes for breeder and owner Jerry Lee Davis.
“John and I have been good friends since I started in the business, so I was glad to win this race,” said Mushinski. This filly won her first two outs and then it was all costly mistakes. She’s a big filly (16 hands) and was never suited for short races. But she put it all together tonight.”
Sent off at odds of 15-1, Lipstick Promise rewarded her supporters with a winning payout of $32.40. She has won three of her six career efforts, with lifetime earnings of $58,824.
Suzie Que, with Victor Urieta, Jr. in the irons, enjoyed a mid-stretch lead on the inside and was passed late by the winner as the 2-1 second favorite. Juan Diaz, Jr. trains for owner Carlos Ponce. Passage of a Woman dueled and finished third for trainer Martin Rodriguez and owner Victor Villarreal. Francisco Giles was in the irons. Completing the field were Dakota Gurl, Lj Luna Llena, Five Bar Willie, Essential Kiss, and Flight Song. Tiffany Twistedd was scratched.
Buchanan’s wife, Iris, and daughter Amanda, and Buchanan’s granddaughter, Brix, presented the trophy.
Tic it to the Dance Prevails in the $54,250 Leon Bard Memorial Stakes
Another tremendous supporter of Texas racing, Quarter Horse trainer Leon Bard was feted in the running of the $54,250 Leon Bard Memorial Stakes. 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). Bard died at the age of 75 on January 5, 2022, following a courageous battle with cancer.
The winner of the Leon Bard Memorial was morning line favorite,Tic It to the Dance ($5.60), who waltzed home to his first career stakes win on Saturday, giving jockey Froylan Ramirez his second stakes win of the night. Together, the pair covered the 350-yard distance in :17.708 for a 98 speed index.
The memorial was restricted to 3-year-old Texas-breds, earnings preferred. Tic It to the Dance’s lifetime earnings now total $105,929, including the winner’s share of $32,550.
The gelded son of Mr. Jess Perry was trained by Oscar Constancio, Jr. for owner Joe Ruiz, Jr. The race was also the first stakes win for Ruiz as an owner.
“He ran in trials last year, but never qualified,” stated Ruiz. This year, he competed in the Sam Houston Derby but did not do well. When they invited us to this stakes. I was happy, as this is my first win as an owner. He’s a very professional horse and Froylan rode him well,”
Tic It to the Dance was bred by Bob and Jerry Gaston, out of Double Down Darling. He ran fifth in the Sam Houston Derby (G3) and was second in the Sam Houston Juvenile and qualified to the Dash for Cash Futurity (G2) at Lone Star Park as a 2-year-old. Eagle Powers finished a neck behind the winner in second place for trainer Alvin Francis, Jr. and owner Gilbert Martinez, Jr; Luis Vivanco had the riding call. Eagle Powers’ stablemate, Brock Landers, completed the trifecta under jockey Ali Rivera. The Alvin Francis, Jr. trainee is owned by Heavy Hitters Racing Stables. Completing the field were Symbolic, Phreedom, Leaving On a Eagle, One Loves Cartel, and Hes No Average Bear. Zooming for Muddy was scratched.
Bard’s daughters Shelly Burnett and Caryl Merchant presented the trophy to the winning connections.
Live racing at Sam Houston Race Park continues this week on Thursday, June 8, and Friday, June at 6:25 pm. A special afternoon post time of 1:00 pm is set for Saturday, June 10 so that fans can enjoy live Quarter Horse racing and the simulcast of the Belmont Stakes. The 2023 live racing season runs through June 17.
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