May 4, 2017


Special 1:00 pm Post Time on Saturday, May 6 for Live Racing

Sam Houston Race Park will present an action-packed weekend of live racing and the always thrilling simulcast of the 143rd Running of the Kentucky Derby. Live racing resumes on Friday, May 5 at 7:00 pm with the popular 50 cent Beer Friday from 6-9 pm.   On Friday, racing fans will be able to enjoy the running of the Grade 1, $1 million Kentucky Oaks from Churchill Downs as well as place advance wagers on Saturday's Kentucky Derby card.


To coincide with the Kentucky Derby, Sam Houston Race Park will host a special 1:00 pm afternoon live racing program on Saturday, May 6, which will include two stakes: the $25,000 Governors' Cup Marathon and the $15,000 Texas Twister.


Festivities Set for the 143rd Kentucky Derby Simulcast at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park invites Houstonians to celebrate the heritage, fashion and excitement of racing’s most prestigious day with the 143rd Running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 6. The day-long sporting and social event will include live Quarter Horse racing, simulcast of the entire race card from Churchill Downs, a Kentucky Derby Hat Contest, traditional Mint Juleps, and Derby merchandise! 


Dubbed "the most exciting two minutes in sports", this year's edition of the Kentucky Derby is shaping up to be a very competitive event. Steve Asmussen, who has won the Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred training title nine times, will have three entrants in the 2017 Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs. He will run Hence, with Florent Geroux to ride for Calumet Farm; Untrapped, with Ricardo Santana Jr. up for Mike Langford; and Lookin At Lee, with Corey Lanerie aboard for L and N Racing LLC.


Patrons will have an opportunity to enjoy all the Kentucky Derby festivities as well as 11 live American Quarter Horse races.


Fans of all ages are encouraged to wear their favorite Kentucky Derby hat and register for the Kentucky Derby Hat contest beginning at 11:30 am. Judging will take place



following the third live race (approximately 2:00 pm). The panel of celebrity judges will award prizes to the top three patrons with a $500 first prize to the winner! 


The schedule of events is as follows:

9:00 a.m.         Gates Open

9:30 a.m.         First race from Churchill Downs

11:00 a.m.       Buffet Opens

11:30 a.m.       Hat Contest Registration Begins

1:05 p.m.         First Live Sam Houston Race

2:30 p.m.         Kentucky Derby Hat Contest Judging

5:34 p.m.         Running of the 143rd Kentucky Derby

6:22 p.m.         Final Live Sam Houston Race

For those unable to be a part of the festivities on Saturday, Sam Houston Race Park will offer advance wagering on Friday, May 5 from 9:00 a.m. until closing. Fans can also take advantage of "Kentucky Derby Early Bird Wagering" where they can place a bet by driving to the valet parking circle from 7:30 - 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. For more information, visit

Stolis Pro Leads the Field in the $25,000 Governors' Cup Marathon

The $25,000 Governors' Cup Marathon at 870 yards, will be the first stakes run on the Derby day racing program.


Jerry Windham’s homebred Stolis Pro captured the $18,900 AQHA Distance Challenge Championship here on April 15 and will try to keep that streak alive. Trained by Leon Bard, the 6-year-old son of Stoli, is a brother to AQHA World Champion and All American Futurity champion, Stolis Winner. Francisco Calderon, who has been riding first call for Bard with tremendous success this season, will pilot Stolis Pro from post position two.


Their biggest opposition is likely to come from multiple-stakes winner, Eyesa Shoofly Dandy, a 6-year-old son of Gold Medal Jess owned by Curtis Smith and Steve Holt. Jockey Donell Blake rode the Oklahoma-bred gelding to victory in the $50,000 Pauls Valley Handicap (G3) at Remington Park on April 6.


“He’s doing well; we are always happy to get Donell, who has a lot of skill around the hook,” said current leading Sam Houston Race Park conditioner Judd Kearl.


He will also saddle Crown Racing’s Corona La Jolla, a 9-year-old Texas-bred, who ran second in the Harris County Stakes here on March 31. Noe Villatoro has the mount.


Returning for his second start of the meet is Bet I Make U Famous, owned by Vernon Harman and Robert Moudy, III. Trained by Trey Ellis, the 5-year-old son of One Famous Eagle ran second in the AQHA Distance Challenge here on April 15 under Alfonso Lujan. He wheeled back 12 days later to take a $20,000 optional claimer at Delta Downs.


The Field Cricket, is another experienced distance specialist, and the highest earner in the field. Owned by Claud Denson, the 9-year-old is trained by Jesse Yoakum, who will give a leg up to his son, Jerry Lee.


The Governors’ Cup Marathon will run as the seventh race on the card.


Red Corona Warrior To Defend His Title in the $15,000 Texas Twister

The $15,000 Texas Twister, at 110 yards, returns for its ninth renewal at Sam Houston Race Park. The winner of last year’s exciting “super sprint” was Red Corona Warrior, surging to the wire in :6.786 seconds.


Owned Almada Racing, the 5-year-old son of Coronas Fast Dash is trained by Josue Ponce, and will break from post position two under Luciano Duenez. This will be the third start of the meet for the sorrel gelding who qualified for the $103,320 Bank of America Texas Challenge (G2), finishing fifth to world champion Jessies First Down.


“He faced a tough field in the Bank of America Challenge,” said Ponce. “This horse breaks fast and won this last year with a clean trip. He’s doing fine, so I hope he can win it again.”


Morning-line favoritism goes to Katharsis, a 3-year-old filly by American Runaway. She won the $146,000 Gillespie County Fair Futurity last summer for trainer Jose Sanchez, and will be ridden by his son, Eddie.


Trainer Eusevio Huitron will saddle two runners in the Texas Twister. Surviving Legend prepped for this in an allowance on April 17, running second for jockey Nestor Duran. His other contender is Undivided Atemption, a 4-year-old son of Tempting Dash; he won the 2015 John Deere Juvenile Texas Challenge and makes his 2017 debut under Claudio Aguilar.


Sam Houston Race Park to Support Fundraiser for the PDJF

Sam Houston Race Park will join the Kentucky Derby Day fundraising campaign to be held on Saturday, May 6 at tracks and racing venues across the U.S. to raise funds for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).


Fans can show their support by stopping by the Fan Education Center for a special Silent Auction benefitting the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Auction items include: a framed photo of Arrogate winning the 2016 Breeder’s Cup Classic, autographed by jockey Mike Smith; a framed photo of Secretariat “Flying” to victory in the 1973 Kentucky Derby, signed by jockey Ron Turcotte; and a framed collage called “Three for the Ages” featuring photos of Triple Crown Winners Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed, this piece is also autographed by each winning rider.


Additionally, donations will be accepted with proceeds to benefit permanently disabled jockeys' health care and living expenses. 


Judd Kearl and Rodrigo Vallejo Remain on Top at Sam Houston Race Park

Trainer Judd Kearl continues to lead in the trainer standings for the 2017 Sam Houston Quarter Horse Quarter Horse season with 24 wins. He won his first Sam Houston leading trainer title in 2006, and is poised to clinch his eighth when the meet wraps on May 22. Leon Bard continues to have a very successful meet; he won the $483,600 Sam Houston Futurity last Saturday with This Is An Eagle. He is second with 11 wins, but is the top money earner with $339,068. Brian Stroud is third with 9 victories.


Kearl's first call rider, Rodrigo Vallejo is the leading jockey with 24 wins following the first six weeks of the racing season. Francisco Calderon and Luis Vivanco are battling it out for second in the standings with 22 wins each. Luis Ramirez rounds out the top four with 10 trips to the winner's circle.


Pete A. Scarmardo and A.D. Maddox share the lead in the owner standings with four wins each. Holly Hooper follows with three top finishes.


Sam Houston Race Park, Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, is located just 15 miles from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including 16 luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and Jockey Club.  For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit





Photo: Stolis Pro AQHA Texas Distance Challenge Champion

Photo Credit: Coady Photography