May 21, 2022


Multiple Stakes Winner Stone Cold Leader Closes Out Exceptional Career With a Win in the $50,000 Harris County Stakes

HOUSTON, TX –The Sam Houston Race Park 2022 Quarter Horse live racing season is in full throttle with quality performances noted throughout the first month of the meet. Older horses took center stage on Friday, May 20, with a stellar victory by Special Apollitical  in the final of the $255,400 Sam Houston Derby (G3) as well as each of the three undercard stakes on the program.  


Fastest Qualifier Special Apollitical  Prevails in the $255,400 Sam Houston Derby (G3)

Sam Houston Race Park ran seven trials on Saturday, April 30 for the $255,400 Sam Houston Derby (G3) with  the top ten qualifiers returning to action on a windy Friday evening.


Adam B. Smith’s homebred Special Apollitical set the fastest qualifying time of :17.900 seconds in the 350-yard trials under rider Luis Vivanco. The son Apollitical Jess out of the Pyc Paint Your Wagon mare Scouts Special Wagon returned to action, breaking alertly from post position three and was able to hold off a fast-closing San Lorenzeaux by a half-length. His final time in the 350-yard final was :18.303 seconds into a 20 mph head wind. 


Cindi Keeton, wife of trainer Toby Keeton, saddled the bay gelding. Toby was reached at Ruidoso Downs following the race for a comment.


"That horse can run!" said Keeton. "He was a little sore when we got him and really "studdy", but after we gelded him, he's run super."


Owner/breeder Adam B. Smith was onsite with a nice group of family and friends. Smith, who is from Ardmore, OK, but now lives in the Dallas area. 


"I can't describe the feeling," said Smith of his first stakes win. "My grandfather, dad and brother all owned Quarter Horses. I said I'd never do it, but here I am! We raised this baby's mama at home, in my backyard. We took a shot and bred her to Apollitical Jess.  We've worked with his attitude  a little bit and he's been much better. We are very grateful that we have put him in the hands of Toby and Cindy. He's been nothing but a delight this year. We have high hopes for him this year!"


Keeton began training Special Apollitical  last fall and he qualified for the  $1.1 million Texas Classic Futurity (G1) at Lone Star Park, finishing seventh. With the winner’s share of tonight’s victory, his earnings stand at $161,471. Sent off at odds of 4.6 to 1, Special Apollitical paid $12.80. 


Keeton, who won  who won the 2000 Sam Houston Derby with Bens Coasting, reports that Special Apollitical  

said he is paid into the All American Derby and will head to Ruidoso for the summer. 


San Lorenzeaux, owned by Rogelio Marquez Jr., recorded the fifth-fastest qualifying time in trials three weeks ago. Sent off as the favorite in the final, the gelded son of Carters Cartel was bumped out of the gate, but rallied for second under jockey Raul Ramirez, Jr.  He earned $51,080, boosting his lifetime tally to $611,893.


San Lorenzeaux was bred in Louisiana by Kenneth Garcia and ran second in the Laddie Futurity and Delta Downs before winning the LQHBA Sale Futurity last October at Evangeline. He was narrowly defeated in the LQHBA Louisiana Million and is trained by Jesus Marquez.


Lucky Dice, owned by J & J Stone Company, broke from the far outside post with Manuel Gutierrez to finish third. The colt sired by One Sweet Jess is trained by Pedro A. Lopez and ran third in the 2021 Sam Houston Futurity (G2).

Gulf Coast Flyer completed the superfecta, followed by Bp Fling in a Wagon, Dealarunner, Mr De Capi, Just a Perfect Grace, Jess Delight and Running a Big Wave.


Stone Cold Leader Wraps His Stellar Career With a Victory in the $50,000 Harris County Stakes

Six entrants dueled 550 yards in the $55,000 Harris County Stakes, with Patrick Richardson’s Stone Cold Leader closing out his remarkable career with a resounding win.


Despite a troubled break, jockey Bryan Candanosa, who rode the dark bay gelding to a stakes victory and runner-up finish last summer at Sam Houston Race Park, Stone Cold Leader surged to a 2-3/4 length win. He covered 550 yards in :28.200 seconds, into a 15 mph headwind. 


"This is the kind of horse that makes a rider," said Candanosa.  "There is no other horse that has the heart of Stone Cold Leader. He was last to load and I wasn't worried about the break. He always finds a way and I was happy to ride him for his last race."


Conditioned by trainer Charles Duke Shults, the 7-year-old Indiana-bred gelding races for owner Patrick Richardson. Mark Michel bred the brown gelding from the Leader Of The Class mare Sheza Classy Leader.


“This horse is family to us and has brought us all closer together," said owner Richardson.  "The traveling we have done from South Carolina has been special. He continues to run; doesn't want to stop, but he's 7- years old and  we are bringing him home!"


With two futurity victories at Horseshoe Indianapolis and stakes wins in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma, Stone Cold Leader closed out his career with 17 wins from 35 starts and earnings of $638,527.


Texas-bred Dak finished second for owner Blue Star Racing and trainer Toby Keeton.. Bullard Farms bred the $312,007 earner by multiple stakes sire Dominyun from the Fishers Dash mare Fleet Elis.


Honky Tonks Memories completed the trifecta, followed by Ghost Bear, Love Ta Zoom, Tlc Cowboy and Jess Paint Me Quick.



The Kings Horse Dominates in the $53,750 Governors’ Cup Marathon

Distance specialists squared off in the second stakes of the evening, the $53,750 Governors’ Cup Marathon with a field of eight competing at the distance of 870 yards. There was no denying the heavy favorite as The Kings Horse drew off by 8 ½ lengths under jockey Claudio Aguilar.


"He ran the race he always does," said Aguilar.


Conditioned by trainer “Tooter” Jordan, The Kings Horse drew off from the field to post an 8-1/2 length victory while clocking :46.276 seconds, a 92 speed index into an 18 mph headwind.  He entered the race off seven-length win in his 6-year-old debut at Sam Houston May 6.


"You never know as there were some nice horses in the field but drawing the one hole helps a lot," said Jordan after the race. "I spoke to (owner/breeders) Tommy and Johanna Bullard today and he said they have won this stakes a couple of times (with different horses in the past). Claudio put a perfect ride on him and no question that he will run again. He's so sound; has never had an issue."


The Kings Horse ($2.80) is out of Fleeta Dif (TB)by Hadif (TB).  He 6-year-old Texas-bred gelding has compiled a (23) 5-6-4 record and banked $114,496 after pocketing $32,250 for tonight’s win.


Im Jess Dashing ran second for Toby Keeton. The son of Dash Master Jess was ridden by Luis Vivanco. One Mighty Eagle was third with Holy Storm, Eye Am Tuff, El Bee Dee and Flyin Charlie completing the order of finish. Slp Mighty Highwas scratched.



Diane To Be a Hero Notches First Stakes Win in the $55,000 Sam Houston Stakes

Rogelio Marquez Jr.’s Diane to be a Hero made the most of his Sam Houston debut and second start of his 4-year season Friday evening with an impressive victory in the $55,000 Sam Houston Stakes.


Sired by One Valiant Hero, qualified for the Firecracker and Delta Derbies at Delta Downs as well as the 

Evangeline Derby last December at Evangeline Downs. Jesus Marquez trains and Raul Ramirez, Jr. did not disappoint as the even-money favorite, returning $4.80 for the win. 


"I knew he was ready," said Ramirez. "He broke really sharp, left there running and never looked back."

Jesus M. Marquez saddled the son of multiple stakes sire Valiant Hero to his fifth career win.  The 4-year-old Louisiana-bred gelding covered the 350 yard course in :18.250 seconds into an n18 mph headwind to pick up $33,000 for the win.


"He's been knocking at the door and running lights out, " said Marquez. "This was his first stakes win, but he had several runner-up efforts. We've been blessed with some big horses."


The gray colt entered the Sam Houston Stakes off a second-place effort April 29th in the Delta Dash Stakes at Delta Downs. Prior to that race he finished second in the Evangeline Downs Derby last December.


Bred by Eddie Cramer, Tom and Bill Maher, the 4-year-old son of Valiant Hero has earned $143,244.


Da Devil Made Me Do It was a game runner-up  for trainer Lewis “Tooter” Jordan and  owners Geri J. Partnership.  Claudio Aguilar rode the gelded son of Fdd Going Grand.


El Camino Cl, a graded stakes winning son of Heza Fast Dash, finish a neck back to earn $6,050 for third. Justin Powell trains the 4-yaer-old colt for owner McGehee Horse and Cattle LLC. Completing the official order of finish for the Sam Houston Stakes were Watch Him B Famous, Aggressive Driver, The Grand Legend, Black Cazador, Jess B One, Tee Britt andWon Famous Dash.


Sam Houston Race Park to Simulcast the 147th Preakness Stakes

Sam Houston Race Park invites racing fans to enjoy live Quarter Horse racing and the simulcast of the second leg of Thoroughbred’s Triple Crown on Saturday, May 21. Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, who won his 14th leading trainer title here in March, will saddle Epicenter, the runner-up in the 148th Kentucky Derby. Nine are entered in this year’s Grade 1, Preakness Stakes at Pimilico Race Course.


Live Quarter Horse racing begins at a special early post time of 1:00 pm.  For those unable to wager on the Preakness on Saturday, Sam Houston Race Park will offer advance wagering on Friday, May 20.  


Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse Racing Post Times

Racing will take place Thursday at 4:00 pm, Friday and Saturday at 6:45 pm (Central) with special post times of 1:00 pm for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 21 and the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 11. The 2022 Quarter Horse meet continues through June 18.


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





Photos:  Coady Photography