SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK’S 25TH ANNIVERSARY RACING SEASON FILLED WITH MEMORABLE HIGHLIGHTS
Midnight Bisou Kicked Off Her Stellar 2019 Racing Campaign in January and Undefeated Trump My Record Tops the AQHA National Quarter Horse Polls
(Houston, TX) – The Sam Houston Race Park 25th anniversary live racing season wrapped on Saturday, May 25 with significant highlights in both the Thoroughbred meet which began on January 25 and the Quarter Horse season which followed.
Local racing fans and horseplayers across the country enjoyed seeing’s Midnight Bisou win the Grade 3, $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the richest race of the Sam Houston Thoroughbred meet. She is conditioned by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, who won his 11th leading training title at the northwest Houston racetrack.
Since winning the Houston Ladies Classic, the brilliant mare notched two graded stakes wins at Oaklawn Park and will run on Belmont Day in the Grade 1, $700,000 Ogden Phipps. She has won $2.4 million and is currently ranked fourth on the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll.
“The Houston Ladies Classic was an absolutely perfect springboard for her 2019 campaign,” said Jeff Bloom, who serves as racing managing director for the ownership group. “Steve and I marvel at how she has blossomed and just seems to love what she does and thrive in her work.”
Additional highlights from the seventh edition of the Houston Ladies Classic included the first appearance of Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith; a three-peat by Three Diamonds Farm’s Bigger Picture in the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup; the highest single-race handle record of $505,000 and the top live handle of $297,000 wagered on the Houston Racing Festival.
In addition, Sam Houston Race Park served as the host site for the 2019 Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet on March 23. The attendees were able to enjoy six Texas Champions Day stakes, including a victory by 2018 TTA Horse of the Year, W.S. Farish’s homebred Direct Dial in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas.
Following the Thoroughbred racing season, Sam Houston Race Park hosted its annual Quarter Horse meet, which also boasted several exceptional highlights.
The most prestigious race of the 2019 Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse meet, the $459,700 Sam Houston Futurity (G2), was contested on Friday, May 3. Trump My Record scored his fourth victory of 2019 for owner Cruz E. Nava of Lytle, Texas. The Texas-bred colt took the top spot in the first AQHA Weekly Poll for 2-year-olds and is pointed to the TQHA Sale Futurity at Retama Park.
Santiago Riojas, Jr. won the first training title of his career, saddling 25 winners for the meet to top last year’s leading horseman Leon Bard by 11 victories. The 27-year-old horseman, who lives in Manor, Texas, has over 100 horses in training and will run next at Delta Downs and then, Retama Park.
The “feel good” story of the 20-day Quarter Horse meet, involved Joseph Gordon, Jr., known as “JoJo”, a jockey who retired from the saddle 18 years ago. Gordon, remained active in the industry as an assistant trainer and a member of the gate crew, applied for his jockey license and on May 17, returned to ride Shake Em Rocks in the $15,000 Texas Twister Stakes. He won the race, delighting a throng of family members and Sam Houston Race Park employees who had know him for over two decades.
“It was an awesome feeling, said Gordon. "I knew I couldn't lose the race because she is such a nice filly and I had so many people here supporting me."
Sam Houston Race Park’s Senior Director of Racing Operations Frank Hopf reflected on the noted highlights in 2019.
“We are pleased with the success of our live racing meets and proud to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sam Houston Race Park,” said Hopf. “The support of our horsemen and horseplayers in Houston and across the country is greatly appreciated. We look forward to building on this momentum in 2020.”
Photos: Coady Photography