Jun 8, 2021


John Deere Juvenile and Adequan Derby Challenge Finals Will Run Thursday

HOUSTON, TX – An action packed week of Quarter Horse racing at Sam Houston Race Park begins on Thursday, June 10 with two AQHA Regional Challenge finals, continues on Friday, June 11 with 12 races and wraps up with six stakes for Texas-breds on Saturday, June 12.

Post time is 4:00 pm on Thursday; Friday and Saturday’s 12-race cards will get underway at 6:05 pm (Central).   Jonathan Horowitz returns this week to call the races at Sam Houston Race Park.


John Deere Juvenile Challenge and Adequan Derby Challenge Set for Thursday, June 10

Two AQHA Regional Challenge Races will be contested on Thursday’s card at Sam Houston Race Park. 

De Laurentis, the fastest qualifier in trials held here on May 20, is the favorite in the $103,598 John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile Challenge (G3). Bred by Bobby D. Cox, the undefeated son of American Runaway, is owned by Reynolds Munoz and Heavy Hitters Racing Stables. Leading Sam Houston trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. trains the colt, who will break from the rail post under Victor Urieta, Jr. in the 350-yard final.


No trials were run for the in the 400-yard, $60,401 Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge, which will run as the eighth race on Thursday’s card.   Five Puig Racing LLC’s homebred  Shezasecretknockoutalso trained by Diaz,  has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite. Bred in Oklahoma, the daughter of Hez Our Secret, broke his maiden in his sixth career start here on May 21.


Both winners will advance to the Bank of America Challenge Championships on October 23 at the Downs of Albuquerque.


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

The seventh race on Saturday night’s card is the $81,000 Jesse Yoakum 870 Stakes named in honor of the late Quarter Horse trainer Jesse Yoakum


A very competitive field of distance specialists will enter the starting gate, led by Viva Le Don, who exits a victory $38,000 AQHA Oklahoma Distance Challenge (G2) on April 25 at Remington Park. Bred and owned by Rockin J Running Horses, the 5-year-old son of Rock Solid Jess, is the high earner with $363,206 banked in 26 career starts. Trainer Tammy Johnson will give a leg up to regular rider Josh Romero on the 2-1 morning line favorite. 


Yoakum was a strong supporter of Texas racing and had tremendous success at Sam Houston Race Park.  He was a jockey prior to beginning a training career that spanned 30 years, Yoakum 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, Barnmaster Sprint Stakes(RG3) winner Turfinator and Chevrolet Heartbeat of America(G3) winner Ronas Wind Dancer. He ran horses at each of the Texas racetracks, but had several notable milestones at Sam Houston Race Park. In addition to winning the Sam Houston Classic with his highest earner, A Glint of Gold, he conditioned Wassup T Doc, who was honored as 2004 Sam Houston Race Park Horse of the Meet. One of his 2-year-olds, Sarah Must set a 350-yard track record in Houston, which still stands.


Yoakum, was a very quiet, but deeply respected conditioner and was always willing to mentor up-and-coming trainers.  One of those was Toby Keeton who has gone on to prominence in each of the Texas racetracks as well as Oklahoma and New Mexico.


“I met Jesse in Del Rio, Texas when I was 14-years-old,” recalled Keeton. “He was a great mentor and became a lifelong friend. Jesse was a man of few words, but such a good horseman.”


His only child, son Jerry Lee, rode the majority of the Yoakum Quarter Horses.


“My dad taught me how to ride when I was very young,” explained Jerry Lee. “He never said too much, so in the beginning I wasn’t sure how I was doing.  Finally, I figured that if he didn’t say anything, it meant I was getting it right!”


Yoakum died on October 3, 2019 following a lengthy battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 69 years-old. His wife, Sharon and son Jerry Lee, will make the presentation on Saturday night.


Tomball Stakes winner Air To Em Jess Returns in the  $106,000 Texas-Bred Championship

Brothers Luis Raul Garcia Nino and Gaspar Garcia hope to win their second stakes of the Sam Houston Race Park meet with Air To Em Jess in the  $100,000 Sam Houston Texas Bred Championship. The 3-year-old son of Dash Master Jess won the 350 yard Tomball Stakes on May 28 and will attempt 400 yards this Saturday night. Gaspar Garcia, who is the older brother, will guide the gelding bred by Scarlett Hill Farm Inc. from post position five.  Scarlett Hill Farm also bred  Carry The Memories, they co-own with Cesar Rosales, and trainer Rolando Almanza. Carry The Memories drew post 4 and will be ridden by Ricardo Garza-Cruz. Kiss My Annee GL races for Sam Houston leading trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. and exits a victory here on May 28.


$80,250 Sam Houston 250 Stakes Draws Six

Pa Cha Ching, a 4-year-old son of Tempting Dash is the even money choice in the  Sam Houston 250 Stakes. Bred by Pat Allen and trained by John Stinebaugh, the sorrel colt will make his 12th career start for the ownership group of  Robert Armor and Samuel and Helen Henderson, The runner-up to Trump My Record in the 2019 Sam Houston Futurity (G2), Pa Cha Ching has banked $108,098 and will be ridden by Jose Ivan Martinez. Esmeralda and Chad Peck’s homebred Just Seven or Eleven is a stakes-placed mare trained by Rolando Almanza. Ricardo Garza-Cruz has the call aboard the daughter of Jess Louisiana Blue.


Ss Classy Jess Headlines the Field in the $80,250 Miss Sam Houston Stakes

Edgar Rosales’ Ss Classy Jess, who has won stakes at Louisiana Downs, Retama Park and Lone Star Park, will try to capture her first championship at Sam Houston Race Park in the 330-yard, $80,200 Miss Sam Houston Stakes. The 5-year-old mare by Rock Solid Jess, has won 14 of her 33 lifetime starts. Trainer Jose Carrizales will give a leg up to regular rider Juan Garcia on the 7-5 morning line choice. 


Jess A Dashin Angela will face her elders  off a second-place finish to Fear The Dragon, in the 350-yard, $333,000 Sam Houston Derby (G2) on May 14. The 3-year-old filly will be ridden by Luis Vivanco for trainer Rolando Almanza.


Harris County Stakes Competitors Return in the $80,250 Sam Houston 550 Stakes

Six Texas-breds are entered in Saturday’s $80,250 Sam Houston 550 Stakes. The early favorite, Rogelio 

Marquez Jr.’s Moment Of Fury, who came off the layoff to win the 550-yard, $50,000 Harris County

Stakes on May 14. The 5-year-old Furyofthewind gelding drew post 6 and will be ridden by David Alvarez 

for trainer Hector Alcala. Ten Sent, who was the runner-up in the Harris County, returns for trainer Ty 

Remington, is also entered with rider Cordarelton Benn breaking from the rail. Dak, a son of Dominyun,

trained by Brian Stroud, ran eighth in that feature. The highest earner in the field will break from post position 

four under jockey Carlos Chacon.



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