Jun 17, 2023


By Martha Claussen

HOUSTON, TX –Sam Houston Race Park hosted two regional qualifying races for the 2023 Bank of America Racing Challenge on Friday, June 16.  Stormguard was a convincing winner in the $125,945 John Deere Juvenile Challenge (G3) and Dash for the Flash was equally impressive in the $73,304 Adequan Derby Challenge.


Stormguard Took Command in the $125,945 John Deere Juvenile Challenge (G3)

It has been a banner season for Sam Houston’s leading trainer Juan Diaz, Jr.and he captured another 2-year-old stakes this evening with Stormguard. The second fastest qualifier in trials held here on May 26, did not disappoint as the favorite in the $125,945 John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile Challenge (G3).


Bred by Chad Hart and Bobby D. Cox, the son of  Duponte was one of two finalists trained by Diaz in the  John Deere Juvenile Challenge final. Nestor Duran had the call aboard Stormguard, breaking well and finishing ½ length ahead of stablemate Fire Cowboy, also conditioned by Diaz. He crossed the wire of the 350-yard final in :17.755 seconds, earning a 97-speed index.


"I had never worked him or ridden him before tonight," said Duran. "Juan told me about him and how he is in the gates. I did not have to worry about anything; the horse did everything right!"


Diaz had confidence in both runners but shared the progress made by Stormguard throughout the year.


"I was talking with the owners in the paddock and told them that from the schooling race to his first start and then his trial, he has gotten better each time. Honestly, this was the best he ever broke."


Owners Silvestre and Maria Maldonado paid $17,500 for Stormguard in the 2022 TQHA Yearling Sale. 


"He was one of the earlier horses on the first day and we felt very lucky to get him for that price. I remember that day; we thought he was going to go for much more. He really caught our eye, and we look forward to running him in the final at Lone Star!" 


Fire Cowboy under Jose Herbert ran second for owner Emmanuel Villarreal, who purchased the son of Flying Cowboy 123 for $22,000 in the 2022 Los Alamitos Equine Sale.


Vodka from Texas completed the trifecta under jockey Jose Vega followed by Relentless Warrior, Lefty, Boss Dream Catcher, Tempting Cowboy Gl, Volcash, and Spicy Hot Cowgirl.  Flyings Thru Fire was scratched by his trainer. 


Diaz indicated that Stormguard ($6.20) will ship to Retama Park for his next start prior to competing in the $125,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) at Lone Star Park on Saturday, October 21. 


Dash for the Flash Explosive Winner of the $73,304 Adequan Derby Challenge 

Three trials were contested on May 27 to determine the ten finalists for the $73,304 Adequan Derby Challenge, and the win streak continued for Dash for the Flash. The son of Tempting Dash out of the Pyc Paint Your Wagon mare Its Bragging Time was bred by Curtis Crenwelge and was making his sixth career start for owner Jose N. Chavez. Eddie Sanchez, who has ridden the bay colt to his two victories this season at Sam Houston, had the return call and was impressed with his effort tonight, rolling late and crossing the wire of the 400-yard final in :20.067 seconds over the fast main track. 


‘'He did everything well,” said Sanchez. “Sometimes he gets a little grippy in the beginning, but not tonight! He was really on, and I was just the copilot.'


It was a family affair as Eddie’s older brother Jose Sanchez, III, trains the $25,000 TQHA Yearling Sale graduate.


“We are pretty much hands-on trainers, so to win a final means a lot to us,” said Sanchez. He's paid up to the Sires Cup Derby at Retama Park, and if he comes back well, we are looking forward to running in the final in Dallas.'


Chavez was in the winner’s circle to accept the trophy and shared his pride that Dash for the Flash is now undefeated as a 3-year-old. With tonight’s winner’s check, the bay colt has now earned $61,800 with four wins from six starts. 


“After his last race I was offered a lot of money, but there’s no way I will sell this horse,” stated Chavez.”


A Game Of Corona, ridden by Ali Rivera finished strong for second 3/4-lengths ahead of fastest qualifier from the trial Chilli Red. The son of Dealagame the board seven of 10 starts win one career win and $36,224 in the bank.  Trainer John Stinebaugh saddled the three-year-old gelding for owner/breeder Pete Scarmardo.


Kat Hes Revenant ran fourth, followed by Crimson Cash, Capo On Fire, Kartendo Fast Dash, Surfings South Beach, and Cartel Drama.


Dash for the Flash ($4.40) will represent Texas in the $150,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3) at Lone Star Park on October 21.


Four Stakes Set for Saturday, June 17 at Sam Houston Race Park

The Sam Houston Race Park 2023 Quarter Horse live racing season will wrap on Saturday, June 17 with the running of four stakes as well as the presentation of the end of the meet awards to the meet’s leading owner, trainer, and jockey. The $50,000 Sam Houston 250 Stakes and $50,000 Sam Houston 550 Stakes both drew full fields. In addition, the program will include memorial stakes honoring trainer Jesse Yoakum, who was a longtime supporter of Texas racing, and Willie Hickman, who played many pivotal roles in the Sam Houston racing office.      





About Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles northwest of downtown Houston. Owned by Penn Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ – PENN), the racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions for businesses, group outings, and families during racing and the off-season. The track is best known for its award-winning dining and features multiple areas for fans looking for casual to upscale dining options including its Winner’s Circle Restaurant, Jockey Club, Luxury Suites, and Pavilion Centre. For more information or tickets to upcoming live racing, shows, and events, please visit www.shrp.com or follow on: FacebookInstagramTwitterTick Tok or YouTube





Photos:  Coady Photography