SAN LORENZO AND FEAR THE DRAGON FACE OFF IN THE $332,900 SAM HOUSTON DERBY (G3) ON FRIDAY, MAY 14
Four Additional Stakes Will be Contested on the Card Which Begins at 6:45 pm (Central)
HOUSTON, TX – It might be hard to top last weekend at Sam Houston Race Park when they hosted 22 trials for the $732,650 Sam Houston Futurity (G2). That final, set for Friday, May 28, will be tremendously exciting, but racing fans can look forward to an excellent card this Friday night featuring five stakes races. Post time will be 6:45 pm (Central).
San Lorenzo and Fear the Dragon Return in the $332,900 Sam Houston Derby (G3)
Sam Houston Race Park ran ten trials on Friday, May 14 for the $332,900 Sam Houston Derby (G3) with impressive talent on display and a huge milestone accomplished when Rogelio Marquez Jr’s San Lorenzo became Quarter Horse racing’s newest millionaire.
San Lorenzo, trained by Hector Alcala, had won both the $1 million Lee Berwick Futurity (RG1) at Delta Downs as well as the LQHBA Louisiana Million Futurity last December 16 at Evangeline Downs. In his first race outside of Louisiana under regular rider David Alvarez, the striking bay colt exploded from the starting gate and drew clear of his six rivals, crossing the wire of the 350-yard trial in :17:408 seconds, earning a 105 speed index.
It was a relief and tremendous blessing for Marquez, who named his horse in honor of the family birthplace, San Lorenzo, Mexico. Marquez and his father own a construction company in Rosenberg, Texas and have been Quarter Horse owners since 2017. Their first stakes foray came that year at Sam Houston Race Park when Wild Tycoon ran in the Texas Twister. Success came quickly with stakes winners in Louisiana, including eight victories by the sensational filly, Dashnunder Afullmoon. She won the Lassie and Lee Berwick Futurities at Delta Downs and retired with earnings of $711,951.
"People told us that we would never have another horse as great as Dashnunder Afullmoon, "said Marquez. "That was just the beginning. We just stayed focused and then San Lorenzo came. Thank God we were able to have our first million dollar earner."
San Lorenzo will break from post position five as the even-money favorite. Raul Ramirez, Jr. will be in the irons as David Alvarez underwent ankle surgery on May 4.
"That was tough news for us as David knows San Lorenzo so well," said Marquez. “We had calls from riders all over the country willing to come to Houston but have known “Chico” for a long time and felt he was our best choice.”
San Lorenzo won his trial with the second-fastest clocking of the evening as Jose Espinoza’s Fear The Dragon was very imposing in his victory, setting the top mark of :17.331 seconds. Jockey Manuel Gutierrez, who won four races on the card, guided the son of Favorite Cartel to the wire, earning a 107 speed index.
Trainer Adrian Huitron saddled eight potential qualifiers, but knew that Fear The Dragon, who qualified last year for the Speedhorse Futurity(G3), the Dash For Cash Futurity(G2) and Evangeline Downs Futurity(G3), was a very solid competitor.
"Two-year-old's are still learning; as 3-year-olds, you just have to work with them," Huitron said after the win. "You make little tweaks and get them ready. We knew he had it in him. He shipped to three surrounding states last year; we felt he was going to be one of our best runners in the trials."
Fear The Dragon, who drew the rail, will have a new rider aboard in the final as Gutierrez opted not to compete.
“Manny rides for all the owners in the final and did not want to show favoritism,” said Huitron.
Huitron gave the call to Rodrigo Vallejo, who has a storied legacy at Sam Houston Race Park, winning four editions of the Sam Houston Futurity, including the 2004 championship aboard Azoom as well as the 2017 Sam Houston Derby with So Rapido. Vallejo was also the rider of two-time AQHA World Champion Jessies First Down, who made seven starts here.
It will be another busy evening for Huitron, who also qualified Jesslightninglegs, Ojd Chavela J and Special Mariposafor the Sam Houston Derby. He won the 2016 Sam Houston Derby with TLC Dale and was assisting his father, Eusevio, who saddled Easy Dashin Sixes in 2008 and Charal Kid in 2009. Eusevio Huitron passed away in July, 2018, which is still a tough loss for Adrian.
“I think about my dad every day,” said Adrian. “Everything I know about Quarter Horse racing I learned from him.”
Juan Diaz, Jr. has three quality finalists as well, including the third-fastest qualifier Blame the Fed, a California-bred son of Favorite Cartel; Tall Timbers who won the opening trial and posted the fourth fastest on the night as well as Gianniy, bred by Jose Espinosa.
The Sam Houston Derby (G3) will run as the eighth race on the card with an approximate post time of 9:54 pm (Central). The winner will earn $133,160.
Stakes Winning Distance Specialists Will Compete in the $54,000 Governors’ Cup Marathon
The first stakes of the evening is the $54,000 Governors’ Cup Marathon with a field of eight competing at the distance of 870 yards.
Let There Be Sound has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite and will break from post position seven for trainer John Stinebaugh. Owned by Louis Howard, the son of One Famous Eagle is a multiple graded stakes winning 7-year-old and will be making his first start since May 30, 2020 under rider Francisco Calderon. Freakin Patriot Dash has been successful in Louisiana with eight wins at this distance. Ubaldo Luna has the call for owner/trainer Joel Huitron. 2019 Governors’ Cup Marathon champion Love Ta Zoom returns for trainer Kie Mushinski. The field also includesStolis Pro, bred by Jerry Windham. The 10-year-old son of Stoli is trained by Leon Bard.
Jax Louisiana Game Leads the Field in the $55,500 Harris County Stakes
Ten entrants will duel it out in the $55,000 Harris County Stakes, with eight attempting the distance of 550 yards for the first time. Jax Louisiana Game, owned by Reta Hamilton has proven himself going long with two wins and five top three placings. Leon Bard conditions the 7-year-old son of The Louisiana Cartel, who drew the far outside post and will be ridden by Pedro Espinosa.
One Sweet Merlot will break to the inside of Jax Louisiana Game for trainer Trey Ellis. This will be his first start at 550 yards, but the son of One Sweet Jess has won nine of his 25 lifetime starts for owners David Jones and Mark C. Cowan. The high earner in the field is Blue Star Racing’s Dak who has banked $258,507. The 5-year-old gelding is sired by Dominyun and won the 2018 TQHA Sale Futurity. He is currently in the barn of Brian Stroud, who is off to a great start this season at Sam Houston Race Park.
Mpshinning Faces Nine in the $55,500 Sam Houston Stakes
Louisiana-bred MpShinning has been a force to reckon with beginning in his 2-year-old campaign and will begin his 5-year-old season in the $55,500 Sam Houston Stakes. Owned by Larry Boudreaux, he won the LQHBA Louisiana Million in 2018 and tops the field of ten with earnings of $802,045. The 5-year-old son of Mr Piloto is trained by Adrian Huitron and will break from the rail under rider Ali Rivera.
His top competition in the 350-yard stakes looks to come from Valeriano Racing Stables LLC’s Inaugurator who will make his 4-year-old debut for trainer Toby Keeton. Sired by Apollitical Jess, Inaugurator won the $232,000 Heritage Place Derby (G2) at Remington Park and was the runner-up in the $1 million All American Derby (G1) last September at Ruidoso Downs. Three-time Sam Houston Race Park leading jockey Luis Vivanco has the call.
Wagons Dash, who ran second in the 2020 Dash For Cash Derby at Lone Star Park, is another capable runner. Eric Long trains the son of Pyc Paint Your Wagon with Everardo Rodriguez, who won his 500th career start on May 10 at Delta Downs, named to ride.
Ten Speedsters Entered in the $55,500 Texas Twister
The always popular Texas Twister Stakes will close out the Friday card featuring ten runners “super sprinting” at the distance of 110 yards. The race, which will take less than eight seconds to complete, always involves a photo-finish and enthusiastic support from the fans.
Current leading Sam Houston Race Park trainer Juan Diaz, Jr, will saddle Card One Starter, who won the $252,000 Oklahoma Derby G3) at Remington Park on March 20. Owned and bred by Jose E. Guzman, Card One Starter will break from post position six under Victor Urieta, Jr., who leads all jockeys this meet with 16 wins. Oklahoma-bred Johnny De Capo will be ridden by Gaspar Garcia and just missed in his first start of the year at Remington Park. Ed O qualified for the 2019 LQHBA Louisiana Million and has earned $365,713 in his 14 starts. Pepe Lopez trains the 4-year-old son of Mr. Piloto.
Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse Racing Post Times
Racing will take place this Thursday at 4:00 pm (CT); Friday at 6:45 and a special 1:00 pm start for the live card and simulcast of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 15. The 23-day meet continues through Saturday, June 12.
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