150th Kentucky Derby
May 4th, 2024
Jun 16, 2022


Leading Owner, Trainer and Jockey to be Honored Saturday Evening

HOUSTON, TX – Six stakes saluting Texas-breds will close out the 2022 Quarter Horse season at Sam Houston Race Park on  Saturday, June 18. Post time is 6:45 pm (Central) for the ten-race card, which will also include the presentation of the end of the meet awards for leading owner, trainer and jockey.   


El Tartanero Jess Faces Six in the $50,000 Sam Houston 250 Stakes

Eleazar Martinez, Sr’s homebred El Tartanero Jess returns to action in the first stakes of the evening, the $50,000 Sam Houston 250 Stakes.

The 4-year-old son of Apollitical Jess out of the Corona Cartel mare Darling Corona, was a convincing winner in the Texas Twister on June 4, crossing the wire of the 110-yard sprint in :6.932 seconds. It was the 4-year-old colt’s first stake win and was his fourth consecutive victory. Ali Rivera has the return call and will break from the rail as the 8-5 morning line choice. He will be attempting to win his sixth race in 11 starts for conditioner Raul Galvan. 

Other notables include Ima Catboy who will make his first start since finishing ninth in the $393,000 Texas Classic Derby last November at Lone Star Park. Bred and owned by Sunset Well Service, Inc, the 4-year-old gelded son of Pyc Paint Your Wagon is trained by Jorge Valenzuela with Pedro Espinosa in the saddle. 

Jorge Haddad’s homebred Lucchesse makes his 11th career start after qualifying for both the 2020 TQHA Sires’ Cup Futurity and last year’s Firecracker Derby. Haddad, who also trains the son of Inseparable, will give a leg up to jockey Nestor Duran.

Sam Houston Race Park to Salute Trainer Jesse Yoakum on Saturday Night

The third race on Saturday night’s card is the $50,000 Jesse Yoakum 870 Stakes named in honor of the late Quarter Horse trainer Jesse Yoakum,  who passed away on October 3, 2019, at the age of 69. 


He was a strong supporter of Texas racing and had tremendous success at Sam Houston Race Park.  Yoakum was a jockey prior to beginning a training career that spanned 30 years and saddled 418 Quarter Horse winners with earnings in excess of $3.2 million. Among his top performers were Sam Houston Futurity (G1) winner Beduinos Rusty, Sam Houston Classic (G2) winner A Glint Of Gold, 870-yard specialist, The Field Cricket, Governor's Cup Marathon (G3) winner Doctor Streakin, and Barnmaster Sprint Stakes (RG3) champion Turfinator.


The even-money favorite in the Jesse Yoakum 870 Stakes is The Kings Horse, who ran second in last year’s edition of this stakes   Bred by Bullard Farms, he is undefeated this year for trainer Lewis "Tooter" Jordan. The 6-year-old son of Class King exits an eight-length victory in the $54,000 Governors’ Cup Marathon here on May 20 and will break from post position four under jockey Claudio Aguilar. 


Another very capable distance specialist, Shockinglyfamous, will make his Sam Houston debut for trainer Kasey Willis. The 6-year-old son of One Famous Eagle has earned $220,990 in 29 lifetime starts for owners Stone Chase Stables, LLC and Willis. He ran second in his last two 870-yard stakes at Remington Park and will be ridden by Benito Baca. 


Slp Mighty High finally gets an advantageous inside post after drawing outside in his previous races for owner Carl Moore Management, LLC and trainer Karen Jacks. Claimed last November at Lone Star Park, the 9-year-old sired by Mighty Invictus won the $58,220 Lone Star Park 870 Battle Of The Breeds. Victory Urieta, Jr.  has the call on Saturday and will break from post position two.


Yoakum’s wife, Sharon and son Jerry Lee, will be on hand Saturday evening to present the trophy.


Dead-Heat Winners Dak and Ghost Bear Return in the  $50,000 Sam Houston 550 Stakes 

It is always exciting to witness a dead-heat in a Quarter Horse stakes and Sam Houston racing fans enjoyed that one year ago when Dak and Ghost Bear crossed the wire in unison in the Sam Houston 550 Stakes. The talented duo are both entered in this year’s edition of the race, which drew a field of seven.


Racing for owner Blue Star Racing and trainer Toby Keeton, Dak is a 6-year-old son of multiple stakes sire Dominyun. Winner of the TQHA Sale Futurity (RG3) at 2, Dak has compiled a (20) 4-5-0 record with earnings of $312,007. He will break from the five hole under rider Luis Vivanco. Bullard Farms bred the gray gelding from the Fishers Dash mare Fleet Elis. 

Ghost Bear races for owner Sarah Huskey and trainer Esteban Rubio. Francisco Giles will pilot the 5-year-old Phantom Menace gelding from the far inside post.

A Fleeting Kiss makes her stakes debut for owners Scott Sherwood and Amanda and Jeff LukeThe 4-year-old mare by Kiss My Hocks has won her last two races, both at the distance of 350 yards, for trainer Lewis “Tooter” Jordan. Claudio Aguilar has the return call. Eye Am Tuff has been successful at both 550 and 870 yards for breeder/ owner Sue Fikes and trainer Kie Mushinski. Jockey Donell Blake is named aboard the 6-year-old son of Carters Cartel.


Eight Fillies and Mares Entered in the $50,000 Miss Sam Houston Stakes

A field of eight fillies and mares will travel 330 yards in the $50,000 Miss Sam Houston Stakes.  Last year’s third-place finisher Esmael Garcia’s Leading Senorita will make her first start since running in the Miss Retama Stakes on July 30. Trainer Ricardo Aguirre will give a leg up to Nestor Duran who will guide the daughter of The Louisiana Cartel from the far outside post at odds of 8-5. 


Jorge Haddad’s homebred La Inseparable will break from post four under Ali Rivera, who rode the daughter of Inseparable to victory in an allowance here on June 2. Haddad also owns and trains Pronto Alexa who makes her stakes debut under rider Luis Vivanco. Bryan Candanosa, who has won two stakes already this meet, has the call aboard Best Moonflash for owner Garlyn O. Shelton. The daughter of First Moonflash qualified for the 2021 Rainbow Oaks at Ruidoso Downs and has hit the board in both allowance efforts this season at Sam Houston Race Park.

Famous Chief Leads the Field in the $100,000 Willie Hickman Memorial

Sam Houston Race Park renamed the $100,000 Sam Houston Texas Bred Championship to honor Willie Hickman, a longstanding member of the racing office. The native of Red Rock, Texas passed away in Houston on March 15, 2022.  He had been hospitalized with pneumonia and died at the age of 64.


Hickman was involved in many roles in the racing community, from training racehorses to serving in a variety of duties in the Sam Houston Race Park racing office for over 20 years. As stall superintendent, jockey room coordinator and most recently, stakes coordinator, Hickman had lasting relationships with horsemen in both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing. He also did an excellent job as jockey agent to rider Alfonso Lujan, who won over 2,100 races prior to his retirement in 2018.


The 400-yard Willie Hickman Memorial attracted a field of eight with the Famous Chief installed as the 6-5 top choice. The 4-year-old son of One Famous Eagle returns following his victory here on June 4 in the  $110,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2). The win was the second graded stakes for the sorrel gelding owned by Debbie Grimes. He rallied  gamely under jockey Bryan Candanosa, who will be in the saddle, breaking from post six. Famous Chief, who captured the 2021 Dash for Cash Derby (G2) at Lone Star is trained by Charles Duke Shults and boosted his career earnings to $206,627. He was bred in Texas by Clarence Scharbauer III out of the multiple stakes placed Thoroughbred mare Rockin Regent, by Gold Regent. 


Breaking to the outside of Famous Chief is Pete Scarmardo’s homebred His Time to Deal. The 4-year-old son of Dealagame ran third in the Sam Houston Classic and has banked $121,749 with five career victories. Ali Rivera has the mount with Jose Martinez to ride Scarmardo’s second entrant, Watch Him Be Famous.
The 4-year-old son of One Famous Eagle ran second to Famous Chief in the Dash For Cash Derby and exits a fifth-place finish in the Sam Houston Stakes here on May 20.


The Willie Hickman Memorial will run as the ninth race with an approximate post time of 10:13 pm.


End of the Meet Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

Headed into the final three days of the 2022 Quarter Horse season, Juan Diaz, Jr. looks likely to repeat as leading trainer. He has won 22 races, with three trainers tied in second with nine wins each. Ali Rivera has taken over the lead in the jockey standings with 32 wins, followed by last year’s top rider Victor Urieta, Jr. (27) and Luis Vivanco (26). Carlos Ponce tops the owner standings with seven wins; Donna Mushinski’s horses have won four races and five owners are tied with three wins each.


About Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston.  Owned by Penn National Gaming. Inc., the racetrack, which opened in 1994, 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