150th Kentucky Derby
May 4th, 2024
Apr 19, 2021


Trials for the Sam Houston Derby (G3) Set for Saturday Night

HOUSTON, TX - The 2021 Quarter Horse racing season at Sam Houston Race Park gets underway on Friday, April 23with a ten-race card, beginning at 6:45 pm (CT). The 2020 live meet was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but interest from horsemen has been very strong for this year’s 23-day meet, which continues through Saturday, June 12.


It will be an action-packed opening weekend with ten trials for the $100,000-added Sam Houston Derby (G3) on Saturday night, also with a 6:45 pm first post.


Multiple Futurity Champion San Lorenzo Begins 2021 Campaign in Trials for the Sam Houston Derby (G3) on Saturday Night

Ten of the 11 races on Saturday night are trials for the $100,000-added Sam Houston Derby (G3).  The fastest ten qualifiers of the 350-yard trials will advance to the final on Friday, May 14.


The eleventh race on the card will showcase one of the top-earning 2-year-olds in the country, San Lorenzo. Bred in Louisiana by Jim and Natalie Montgomery, the son of Coronas Leaving You out of the Mr Eye Opener mare In The Open, was a $68,000 LQHBA Yearling Sale repurchase by Rogelio Marquez, Jr. He began his career with a win in his trial for the Laddie Futurity at Delta Downs, but avenged a loss in that final with a victory in the $1 million Lee Berwick Futurity (RG1) on the final night of the Delta meet. Most Quarter Horse connections are thrilled to win one seven-figure futurity in their lifetime; San Lorenzo did it twice last year, powering to victory in the LQHBA Louisiana Million Futurity on December 16 at Evangeline Downs.


Trained by Hector Alcala, San Lorenzo will make his Sam Houston debut with career earnings of $993,340 which is the highest of any 3-year-olds competing in Saturday night’s trials. Jockey David Alvarez has the return call aboard the bay colt and will break from post position six in the final trial.


“San Lorenzo has been a blessing for us,” admitted Marquez. “I had people tell me that we would never have another champion like (2019 Lee Berwick Futurity winner) Dashnunder Afullmoon, but my dad and I are committed to finding the next great horse!”


And the great ones continue each year! Last Saturday, Marquez celebrated with San Lorenzo Tay, an Oklahoma-bred son ofIvory James, who won the $926,500 Remington Park Futurity (RG1) in Oklahoma City.


He was a $67,000 Heritage Sale Place Sale purchase and spotting potential champions at yearling sales is a passion for Marquez.


“It begins with studying the catalog and pedigree analysis,” he explained. “My dad and I look at each prospect very carefully and we both have to like the horse before the bidding begins. Maybe some owners look at the top of the cube, but I study it from all angles.”


San Lorenzo Tay, with his perfect three-for-three record, is currently the highest earning 2-year-old Quarter Horse in the country with $392,482 banked already this year.


Marquez, who lives in Rosenberg, Texas, less than 30 minutes south of Sam Houston Race Park, is looking forward to returning for the 2021 meet.


“I ran Wild Tycoon in the (2017) Texas Twister at Sam Houston,” said Marquez. “It was on Kentucky Derby day with a huge crowd. Louisiana is home away from home, but it will be great to have my family and friends come out to see our horses run here in Texas.”


Other notable Derby trial entrants include Circle T Ranch’s Gael Force, who ran fourth in the 2020 Remington Park Oklahoma-Bred Futurity for trainer Heath Taylor. Luis Vivanco rides the colt by Im a Fancy Pyc in the second trial of the evening. Vivanco returns in the next trial aboard Ought To Go Tee, winner of the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile last December at Fair Grounds for owner Jose U. Oviedo and trainer Fernando Lopez.

In race 6, Raedele Phipps’ Tf Runaway Dashin will be a 3-year-old to watch; the gelded son of Sir Runaway Dash ran second to San Lorenzo in the $1million Lee Berwick Futurity (RG1) last August at Delta Downs.


Three juvenile standouts will vie in race 10, which is the ninth trial. Hes Innocent, a son of Hes Relentless, will break from the rail under Everardo Rodriguez. Owned by Priscilla Rodriguez, the Oklahoma-bred colt won the $371,000 Firecracker Futurity at Delta Downs and wrapped up his 2-year-old season with a victory in the Texas Classic Juvenile at Lone Star Park. The high earner ($222,010) will face a tough challenge from Juan Manuel Pastrana’s Greysland, who was the runner-up in the $406,000 TQHA Sale Futurity on July 20 at Retama Park and qualified for three futurities last year as well asOnemoreandIamgoine V. Owned by Jody Garcia, the colt by Jess Lips won four of his six starts last year, including the $364,000 Dash For Cash Futurity at Lone Star Park.


The 2019 Sam Houston Derby champion was the petite, but powerful filly Eysa Jess Jumpn. Bred in Louisiana,  Eysa Jess Jumpn was a $11,500  purchase at the 2016 LQHBA Yearling Sale for Jose Estrada Quarter Horses. Trained by Josue Huitron, the daughter of Heza Fast Dash out of the Mr Jess Perry mare Jess Jumpn went on to win 15 of her 21 career starts, banking $932,387.


Trainers and Jockeys To Watch

Entries were strong for opening weekend with many Texas and Louisiana horsemen returning for the 2021 Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse season. Kenneth Roberts, Sr., Santiago Riojas, Jr, Toby Keeton, Leon Bard, Tooter Jordan, Adrian Huitron, John Stinebaugh, Jorge Haddad, Alvin Francis, Jr., Juan Diaz, Jr. and Brian Stroud have multiple horses entered. 


David Alvarez, who won 111 races in 2020 to lead all North American Quarter Horse jockeys, will ride here for the beginning of the season and then at Delta Downs when their annual meet gets underway on May 10. The jockey colony also includes Luis Vivanco, who has three leading rider titles at Sam Houston; Eddie Sanchez, Everardo RodriguezClaudio Aguilar, Victor Urieta, Jr. and Noe Villatoro.  Two popular veterans, J. R. Ramirez and Donell Blake are also returning to action this season at Sam Houston Race Park.


“We appreciate the interest from so many outstanding horsemen for our 2021 live racing season,” said James Leatherman, Sam Houston Race Park’s Racing Secretary. “Judging from the entries and quality 3-year-olds in Saturday’s Sam Houston Derby trials, it looks like we will have a very competitive meet.”



Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse Racing Post Times

Racing will take place Thursday at 4:00 pm, Friday and Saturday at 6:45 pm (Central) with special post times of 1:00 pm for Kentucky Derby Day on Saturday, May 1; the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 15 and the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 5. The 23-day meet continues through Saturday, June 12.


Announcer Rotation Planned for the Live Racing Season

Racing fans will have the opportunity to listen to unique race calls from a variety of guest announcers throughout the 2021 Quarter Horse meet. Opening weekend duties will go to John McGary, the voice of Louisiana Downs. He recently called the Quarter Horse races in Shreveport, including the final of the Mardi Gras Futurity and Derby and will be back in the Louisiana Downs booth for opening day of their Thoroughbred meet on Saturday, May 1.  


Other respected industry professionals lending their voices to Sam Houston Race Park over the next eight weeks includeJonathan Hororwitz, Nick Tammaro, John Lies and Jessica Paquette.  Updates to follow!


Sam Houston Race Park Stakes Schedule

As previously announced, Sam Houston Race Park will run 19 stakes throughout the 2021 Quarter Horse meet, including the $150,000-added Sam Houston Futurity (G2) on May 28. The northwest Houston racetrack will also pay tribute to Texas horseman John Buchanan and Jesse Yoakum with stakes named in their honor. Both trainers were prominent when Sam Houston Race Park opened in 1994 and for decades to follow. The $50,000 John Buchanan Memorial Stakes for 3-year-old fillies will be run on Friday, May 28 and the $75,000 Jesse Yoakum Memorial 870 Stakes is set for Saturday, June 12.


Friday, May 14, 2021

$100,000-added Sam Houston Derby (G3)                3 YO                          350 yards

$50,000-added Governors’ Cup Marathon                 3 YO & Up                870 yards

$50,000-added Harris County Stakes                         3 YO & Up                 550 yards

$50,000-added Sam Houston Stakes                          3 YO & Up                 350 yards

$50,000-added Texas Twister                                     3 YO & Up                110 yards


Friday, May 28, 2021

$150,000-added Sam Houston Futurity (G2)             2 YO                          330 yards

$35,000-estimated Sam Houston Juvenile Stakes      2 YO                          330 yards

$100,000-added Sam Houston Classic (G2)              3 YO & Up                440 yards

$50,000-added John Buchanan Memorial Stakes      3 YO Fillies                 350 yards

$50,000-added Tomball Stakes                                  3 YO                           350 yards


Saturday, June 5, 2021

$40,000-added Colors of Hou Paint Juvenile (G2)    2 YO                          300 yards

$30,000-added Colors of Hou Paint Maturity(G2)     3 YO & Up                350 yards


Thursday, June 10, 2021

$50,000-added John Deere Juvenile                           2 YO                           350 yards

$50,000-added Adequan Derby                                 3 YO                           400 yards


Saturday, June 12, 2021

$100,000 Sam Houston Texas-bred Championship   3 YO & Up                400 yards

$75,000 Jesse Yoakum Memorial 870 Stakes            3 YO & Up                870 yards

$75,000 Miss Sam Houston Stakes                            F & M 3 YO & Up     330 yards

$75,000 Sam Houston 250 Stakes                              3 YO & Up                 250 yards

$75,000 Sam Houston 550 Stakes                              3 YO & Up                 550 yards

$50,000 Sam Houston Starter Stakes                         3 YO & Up                 350 yards


A complete list of the 2021 Quarter Horse schedule and trial dates is available on shrp.com.


Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston.  The Park 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