Belmont Stakes & Bag of Donuts
June 8, 2024
Apr 2, 2018


Jess Bein the Hero Sets the Fastest Qualifying Time in Trials for the $67,680 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship

It was an action-packed opening weekend at Sam Houston Race Park for the 2018 Quarter Horse racing season. Southern Temptation won the $20,000 Harris County Stakes, which was the first stakes of the meet and trials were held for both the Bank of America Texas Challenge and Sam Houston Maiden Classic.


Southern Temptation Takes the $20,000 Harris County Stakes

Southern Temptation had never run at Sam Houston Race Park, but made the most of his Houston debut with a convincing win in tonight’s feature, the $20,000 Harris County Stakes.


The 6-year-old son of Tempting Dash was making his 23rd career start for owners P & J Racing, Ltd of Boerne, Texas. Despite missing the break, the sorrel gelding closed powerfully under rider Francisco Calderon, winning by a neck over First Impulse.  He covered 550 yards in :28.015 seconds, earning a speed index of 91.


“He’s a true 550-horse,” said winning trainer Leon Bard.


It was the third win of the night for Calderon, who joined his fellow riders in observing a moment of silence before the first race to honor jockey Cesar Gomez.


“I want to dedicate this victory to Cesar,” said an emotional Calderon after the win. “He was a great rider and true friend.”


First Impulse, trained by Josue Ponce, was second followed by Jw Who Dat, Desdemona Rambler and Im Your Queen.


Southern Temptation was the first stakes winner for P & J Racing, Ltd. He was send off as the favorite and paid $4.00 for the win, his fourth career tally. His winner’s share of $12,000 increased his career bankroll to $91,286.




Jess Bein the Hero Was the Fastest Qualifier to the $67,680 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship

Two trials were contested this evening to determine the ten fastest qualifiers for the $67,680 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G2).


Jess Bein the Hero ($3.40) with Jorge Linares in the irons, won the first trial in :21.731 seconds.Owned by Juan F. Martinez-Labastida, the son of Valiant Hero made his first start at 440-yards, breaking sharply from the gate and drawing off by ½ length over RC Me Leavin You. He is trained by Josue Ponce, and came into tonight’s trial off off back-to-back stakes wins at Evangeline Downs.


RC Me Leaving You, a 6-year-old son of Coronas Leaving You owned by Bennie and Teri Jeter, set the second-fastest time of :21.810. The multiple-stakes winner is trained by Jimmy Padgett and Rodrigo Vallejo, the 2017 leading rider here, had the mount.


The ten fastest qualifiers will return for the final on April 21. The winner will represent Sam Houston Race Park in the Grade 1, Bank of America Challenge Championship which will take place on November 17 at Los Alamitos.


Packin Steel Tops Qualifiers in Trials for the $95,800 Sam Houston Maiden Classic

Each of the eleven races on the Friday, March 30 card were trials for the $95.800 Sam Houston Maiden Classic.  


The tenth trial of the evening produced the fastest qualifier when Packin Steel, 6-year-old son of Mr Jess Perry out of the Runaway Winner mare No Fees covered 350 yards in :17.720 seconds. Bred by AQHA champion breeder Bobby D. Cox, the lightly raced gelding returned off a three-year layoff in just his sixth career start for owner Ruben Garcia Montemayor. Rodrigo Vallejo, who was honored as 2017 AQHA Champion Jockey, rode for trainer Miguel Angel Medina.

Pycs Crock Of Cash won the third trial in :17.747 seconds which was the second-fastest time of the evening. Esteban Herrera bred and owns the 3-year-old son of Pyc Kant Catch Me.  This was the second career win for the colt, trained by Rodolfo Sanchez  and ridden by Noe Villatoro.

The final will be run on Saturday, April 14. Click here for a complete list of qualifiers.


Trials for the Sam Houston Futurity Set for Friday, April 6

Sam Houston Race Park will host 13 trials on Friday for the richest race of the 2018 Quarter Horse Meeting, the $100,000-added Sam Houston Futurity (G2). There will be an early post time of 6:00 pm on Friday, April 6.


Rolando Almanza, Leon Bard, Jimmy Padgett, Saul Ramirez, Jr., Angel Sanchez and Rodolfo Sanchez all have multiple entrants.  Bard won the 2017 edition of the Sam Houston Futurity with This Is An Eagle.  The final of the Sam Houston Futurity will take place on Saturday, April 28.


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