SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK TO RUN 22 TRIALS FOR THE $700,000 ESTIMATED SAM HOUSTON FUTURITY (G2)
Early Post Time of 6:10 pm (CT) Set for Friday, May 7 and Saturday, May 8
HOUSTON, TX – After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Quarter Horse racing has returned with tremendous support at Sam Houston Race Park. Since the 2021 live season commenced on April 23, horsemen have filled the entries at every level and it will reach new heights this weekend when the racetrack hosts 22 trials for the Sam Houston Futurity (G2).
The draw is complete for the 11 trials on Friday, May 7 and a second group of juveniles competing in 11 trials on Saturday, May 8, each at a distance of 330 yards. The top five from each evening will return for the final on Friday, May 28 with a record purse estimated to be over $700,000. Post time for both cards has been moved up to 6:10 pm (CT).
Winning a futurity is a dream come true for each breeder, owner, trainer and jockey and the hours of training and care for each juvenile are countless. Since its first running in 1994, the Sam Houston Futurity has produced a noted history of exceptional champions. The excitement is building for this year’s edition, beginning with trials this weekend.
Trainer Toby Keeton has fond memories of winning the 2014 Sam Houston Futurity with Kiss My Hocks. The blazing chestnut son of Tempting Dash set a new track record in his trial with jockey Luis Vivanco in the irons and did not disappoint as the favorite in the final. Owned by Tyler Graham and Conda Maze, Kiss My Hocks went on to capture the Rainbow Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs and was honored as 2014 AQHA 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old colt. He began his stallion career in 2016 at Southwest Stallion Station near Austin, Texas and his colts and fillies are showing the same grit and determination as their “daddy”
“He was dressed up and ready to go,” recalled Keeton of his impressive debut. “This horse was a freak; he loved to show off and was a pleasure to train. All we had to do was stay out of his way!”
Keeton has seven juveniles in this weekend’s trials; all bred by different sires; none by Kiss My Hocks.
“I don’t know if I have another Sam Houston Futurity champion, but I feel I have a couple of nice ones,” Keeton said of his seven entrants.
In 2019, Trump My Record cruised to victory in the $459,700 Sam Houston Futurity for owner Cruz E. Nava of Lytle, Texas. Bred in Texas by Fulton Quien Sabe Ranches LP, he was trained by Jose Sanchez, III and ridden to victory by his younger brother, Eddie. The son of Apollitical Blood out of the Pyc Paint Your Wagon mare Breck N Records was purchased for just $10,700 at the TQHA Yearling Sale. He went on to win 13 races, banking $979,068 in 16 starts!
Sanchez has seven entered on Friday and another eight in Saturday’s trials with Eddie named on each.
One of the 15 trial entrants for Sanchez is Biden Record, and the 26-year-old conditioner laughed when asked about horses named after back-to-back United States presidents.
“They are named when they go to the Yearling Sales; some owners are superstitious about changing a name,” explained Sanchez. “Biden Record is a big gray colt by Pool. This will be his first start; we think he has potential.”
Sanchez will have plenty of competition this weekend from a number of horsemen, including his uncle, Angel Sanchez, who won the 2015 Sam Houston Futurity with Ivan James and 2016 champion Just Call Me Carter.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” added the third-generation trainer. “I have learned so much from my uncles, dad and grandfather. Preparing horses for futurity trials is very tough. My first year was the hardest; now we know how to handle the pressure.”
Current Sam Houston Race Park leading trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. will be a very busy man this weekend with a total of 29 juveniles entered. His brigade ranges from first-time starters to TYKHE Racing LLC’s On Nyx, winner of the $302,010 Harrah’s Futurity on April 3 at Louisiana Downs.
The 32-year-old horsemen from Floresville, Texas, has high hopes for his juveniles and the owners who have made the five payments totaling $2,150 to run in these trials.
“We have a very good team; a lot of people will help us out on Friday and Saturday night,” said Diaz. “Each horse is an individual and we have seen their potential when they jog in company and school in the gates. Our owners have invested a great deal of money in the (yearling) sales. It’s exciting for us and our owners.”
Trainers Angel Sanchez, Adrian Huitron, Jimmy Padgett and Leon Bard all have multiple entrants.
Bard, who was the 2018 Sam Houston Race Park leading trainer, won the 2017 edition of the Sam Houston Futurity with This Is An Eagle. He will saddle eight juveniles in the trials.
Bard knew he had a sensational runner with This Is An Eagle. Pete Scarmardo bred the son of One Famous Eagle from the First Down Dash mare Lady Lilia. He was the sale topper at the 2016 TQHA Yearling Sale, purchased for $100,000 by Mary Lynne Thompson.
This Is An Eagle was a career-defining mount for 2018 Sam Houston leading Quarter Horse jockey Francisco Calderon, who is now riding this year at Remington Park and Ruidoso Downs.
“He is one of the smartest horses I have ever ridden,” recalled Calderon. “I remember getting him ready for the trials. He was so fast in his early works; one morning he ducked out and dropped me! I didn’t mind; I just knew he was a really talented colt.”
Sam Houston Race Park Leaderboard
Heading into the third week of the 2021 Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse meet, Juan Diaz, Jr. has saddled seven winners to take the early lead in the trainer standings. Adrian Huitron is second with four victories and Brian Stroud and Hector Alcala are tied for third with three wins.
Victor Urieta, Jr. leads his fellow jockeys with six wins with Luis Vivanco and Manny Gutierrez tied for second in the standings with five wins each. David Alvarez, Claudio Aguilar, Noe Villatoro and Jose Martinez have all made three trips to the winner’s circle.
Jose J. Espinoza tops the owner standings with three wins. Eleazar Martinez,Sr., Carlos Ponce, Ruse Ranch LLC, Billy Dan Dowd, Rogelio Marquez, Jr. and Annette Faul share second-place with two winners to date.
Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse Racing Post Times
Racing will take place this Thursday at 4:00 pm (CT), with special post times of 6:10 pm for Sam Houston Futurity trials on May 7 and 8. The regular schedule of Thursday at 4:00 pm and Friday and Saturday at 6:45 pm returns next week. Post times change to 1:00 pm for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 15 and the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 5. The 23-day meet continues through Saturday, June 12.
Upcoming Stakes This Month at Sam Houston Race Park
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
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