Belmont Stakes & Bag of Donuts
June 8, 2024
May 17, 2017


John Deere Juvenile and Adequan Derby Challenge Finals on the Card

Sam Houston Race Park hosts its final weekend of live American Quarter Horse racing beginning Friday, May 19. Fans can enjoy live racing on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. and a special 1:00 pm Saturday afternoon racing program in conjunction with the running of the142nd Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 20. 
Stakes action includes the final of the $70,020 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge (G3)and the $55,260 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge.
Racing fans are invited to stay Friday night following live racing to enjoy the final performances of the Post Race Concert Series, with Casey Donahew on the Bud Light stage.
Racing will wrap up on Monday, May 22 with 12 races beginning at noon.  Sam Houston Race Park will honor its leading owner, trainer and jockey on closing day.
Sam Houston Race Park to Simulcast the 142nd Preakness Stakes
Always Dreaming, winner of the Kentucky Derby, will take the next step to clinch racing’s prestigious Triple Crown winner this Saturday in the 142nd Preakness Stakes. The highly anticipated race takes place at Pimlico Race Course, and Sam Houston Race Park will simulcast the full card from the Baltimore, Maryland racetrack.  The first race on Saturday's Preakness Day card runs at 9:30 a.m. (CT).
For those horseplayers unable to bet on Preakness Day, Sam Houston Race Park will offeradvance wagering on Friday, May 19.  Fans can place a bet by driving to the valet parking circle from 7:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.  "Preakness Early Bird Wagering" will also be available on Saturday, May 20 beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Trainer Brian Stroud Sends Three to the $70,020 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge (G3)
Trainer Brian Stroud had a solid night on April 29, qualifying three of the ten finalists for Saturday’s $70,020 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge (G3). 
Ivory Noche, a son of Ivory James, won his 350-yard trial in :18.115 and has been installed as the 5-2 choice. Bred and owned by K and W Land and Cattle Co., he was an impressive trial winner and is now two-for-two in his young career.
"I liked him from day one," said Stroud. "He is sound and a very honest runner. He’s always shown promise and we like his chances in the final."
Stroud will also saddle Alan and Sharon Colley’s homebred Ivory N Ashes as well asMichael Amburn’s homebred Jess Tee, a son of Mr Jess Perry, who will be ridden byFrancisco Calderon. The sorrel colt made his debut on April 17, running seventh, but showed marked improvement in his trial win two weeks later.
“His first out was disappointing,” said Stroud of Jess Tee’s debut. “But he looked really good in his trial and we hope both he and Ivory N Ashes run that kind of race on Saturday.”
Stroud has confidence his trio, but acknowledges that Black Onyx “is probably the horse to beat”.  The gelded son of Rock Solid Jess, owned by Holly Hooper, is undefeated in two starts and set the fastest qualifying time of :18.051 seconds in trials on April 29.  ConditionerAngel Sanchez will give a leg up to rider Jose Martinez.
Trainers Judd Kearl and Jose Espinosa both qualified two juveniles for the John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge. Kearl will saddle Mikey Tiner’s He Win It, a gelded son of Tempting Dash, who made his debut in the trials, running second to Ivory Onyx.  His second qualifier is Jessanotherbeatin, who will make his second start for owners Esmeralda andChad Peck.
Espinoza will saddle Louisiana Seis, a son of The Louisiana Cartel for owners Kenneth andChristine Blouch. He owns and trains Thebunnygoeson, a Jess Louisiana Blue filly who notched the tenth fastest qualifying time.
The stakes will run as the eighth race on Saturday with the winner advancing to the$130,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) at Prairie Meadows on October 14.
Gustafame Leads the Field in the $55,260 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge
It will be a family affair Saturday afternoon when fastest qualifier, Gustafame returns for the final of the $55,260 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge. The son of Freighttrain B out of the Dash Ta Fame mare Kensey Ann Fame was bred in Utah by Jim and Louise Padgett. Their son, Jimmy, is a valued assistant to leading Sam Houston Race Park trainer, Judd Kearl.
Gustafame fired fresh off a nine-month layoff on April 29 under jockey Rodrigo Vallejo, winning his 400-yard trial in :19.988 seconds. Installed as the 5-2 morning line choice, the sorrel gelding competed in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge at both Ruidoso Downs and Sam Houston Race Park last year.
“His trial win here was very exciting,” said Jim Padgett, who will travel to Houston with his wife, for Saturday’s final. “When you raise them, it’s special. As a yearling, he was a very aggressive little guy with a lot of play in him. When it was time for training, we sent him to Judd.”
The Padgett and Kearl families have been friends for decades, and Jim Padgett is very proud of Judd, who was honored as 2016 AQHA champion trainer on January 21.
“His success is well-deserved,” he added. “He has worked very hard for many years.”
Kearl was the conditioner of Bobby W. Myers' homebred BM Casina Royale, last year’s Adequan Texas Derby Challenge winner.
There are several very talented 3-year-olds gunning for the victory in the Adequan.  TrainerLeon Bard has won two Challenge races this meet: the Merial Distaff Challenge withBrookside and the AQHA Distance Challenge with Stolis Pro. He qualified three runners to the Adequan final: Trashy Tres, Tac My Time and Deala Quick Game.
Trashy Tres is owned and bred by Jerry Windham, setting the second-fastest qualifying time and will be ridden by Salvador Martinez. Jockey Francisco Calderon will pilot Tac My Time for owners Marco Ramirez and Gary Hartstack and rider Juan Vazquez has the call aboard Pete Scarmardo’s homebred Deala Quick Game.
"All three came out of their trials in good shape," said Bard. 
The winner will represent Texas in the $180,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3) at Prairie Meadows on October 14.
Judd Kearl and Rodrigo VallejoTop Standings at Sam Houston Race Park
Trainer Judd Kearl continues his dominant showing in the 2017 Sam Houston Quarter Horse meet with 27 wins. He has won seven Sam Houston leading trainer titles to date. Jose Sanchez added four wins last week to move into second place with 15 wins. Leon Bard andBrian Stroud are tied for third with 12 wins each.
Rodrigo Vallejo remains on top of the 2017 jockey standings with 25 wins. Francisco Calderon tied Juan Francisco Garcia, Jr. for second place, with 18 winners each.  Luis Vivanco is third with 16 trips to the winner’s circle.
A. D. Maddox is the leader in the owner race with seven wins. Pete A. Scarmardo follows with four victories and Holly Hooper, Rogelio Marquez Jr., Estate of Fred Yamaguchi, Greta and Pete Guerra and Jerry Windham have each won three races this season.
Casey Donahew Band Closes Out the Spring Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park
The entertaining 2017 Spring Concert Series wraps up this weekend with the Casey Donahew Band on the Bud Light stage Friday, May 19. Concert admission is FREE with $7 live racing admission before 8pm. Tickets are available at, at participating Houston-area Randall’s locations, or by calling 800-211-3381.
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: GUSTAFAME- The Adequan Texas Derby Challenge Trials
Photo Credit: Coady Photography