150th Kentucky Derby
May 4th, 2024
Mar 19, 2024


Five $75,000 Stakes for Accredited Texas Thoroughbreds Will Also be Contested

HOUSTON, TX- Texas Champions Day has been one of the most anticipated days of the annual Thoroughbred season since Sam Houston Race Park opened in 1994. This year’s edition, set for Saturday, March 23, will shine the spotlight on returning Texas Champions as well as the future stars of the Lone Star State.


The fields have been drawn for each of the Texas Champions Day stakes. The 10-race card will get underway at 1:00 pm (CT). Last March marked the inaugural running of the $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Oaks and $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Derby. Both stakes are written for TTA Yearling Sale graduates and will be contested on the main track at the distance of a mile and 70 yards. The sale, which takes place each April at Lone Star Park, continues to showcase quality 2-year-olds who have made their mark in Texas and additional tracks in North America.


Miss Code West and Too Much Kiki Lead the Field in the $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) Oaks

The first stakes on the Texas Champions Day card will be the $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Oaks. Seven 3-year-old fillies are entered with Miss Code West installed as the 6-5-morning line choice.


Owners Jeffry and Julie Puryear purchased the daughter of Code West out of the  Kipling mare Inca West for $12,000 at the 2022 TTA Yearling Sale. Well-tested at two-turns, she will break from the far outside post for trainer Kevin Scholl. The bay filly won her first four starts, including the Oklahoma Classic and Trapeze at Remington Park before finishing fourth in the $150,000 Silver Bullet Day on January 24 at Fair Grounds.


“That was a tough race and I wish I would have had another week to prepare her,” stated Scholl. “She’s run in several stakes, but Too Much Kiki is a pretty good filly, for sure.”


Miss Code West has been training at Sam Houston since her trip to Fair Grounds and even though she has been a front-running threat for the majority of her starts, Scholl will leave the trip in the hands of her regular rider Floyd Wethey, Jr. The Oklahoma-bred fill enters the Oaks with a record of four wins from five starts and earnings of $146,694.


“She’s had several works and drew well,” added Scholl. “Floyd loves this filly and our strategy for this race, like all of her races, is just play the break.”


Trainer Bret Calhoun won the 2023 edition of the Oaks with Santa Fe Gold and returns with the very talented Too Much Kiki, who has won four in a row for owner Mansfield Racing. Her Sam Houston record is impeccable with three stakes victories: most recently a 7 ¾ length score in the $75,000 Two Altazano on February 17. The daughter of Too Much Bling out of the Action This Day mare, Soft Music was bred by Danele Durham and was the $100,000 sale topper at the 2022 Texas Summer Yearling Sale. With  five wins from six career efforts, Too Much Kiki has already banked $210,600. Fernando Jara has the return call aboard Too Much Kiki at odds of 2-1. 


“Our goal since the first of the year was to prepare her for two turns,” said Calhoun. “Mentally and 

Physically, she has stepped up every time. She has been stabled here all meet and has had a series of works in between races to build her stamina. It’s a pleasure training for Landon Mansfield, who loves his horses and spent some serious money at the TTA sale.”


Stakes-placed Magnolia Avenue will make her eighth career start for trainer Jaylan Clary and Contour from the barn of Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, will also compete in the Oaks.


The Texas Thoroughbred Association Oaks will run as the fourth race on Saturday’s program with an approximate post time of 2:30 pm.


The field, from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds is as follows: Cajun Doll, Alfredo Triana, 30-1; Too Much Kiki, Fernando Jara, 2-1; Texas Moon, Jose Alvarez, 15-1; Magnolia Avenue, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez, 9-2; Contour, Stewart Elliott, 6-1; Kentucky Angel, Rene Diaz,15-1 and Miss Code West, Floyd Wethey Jr., 6-5.


Field of Twelve to Compete in the $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Derby

A very competitive group of 3-year-old colts and geldings will go two turns in the $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Derby.


Trainer J. R. Caldwell will saddle Sharp Lorenzo, who makes his Sam Houston Race Park debut off a stakes victory at Turf Paradise in the $60,000 Luke Kruybosch Stakes on February 22. Farmers Fillies Racing, Steve Dupy and Randy Chelf own the son of Sharp Azteca, who sold for $50,000 TTA Yearling Sale in 2022.


Rene Diaz has the call and will break from post four at odds of 3-1. This will be his seventh lifetime start and Caldwell, who notched his 1,000th win as a trainer here on February 4, looks for a good effort from the Texas-bred gelding.


“He hauled out with no issues (from Santa Anita) and has been training well in Houston,” said Caldwell. “I am all in when it comes to the Texas-bred program and focusing on racing here and at Lone Star Park. It’s a good field, but I believe he is on the right track.”


Third Street, owned by Shawn. H. Davis and Bill Carnes has shown his prowess at the stakes level and drew post two with regular rider Jose Alvarez in the saddle. Purchased for just $3,000 at the  2023 TTA in Training Sale, the colt sired by Yoshida (JPN), competed in three stakes at Remington Park before running in the $100,000 Bob Bork Turf Mile here in January.


“This is a real nice horse who always tries hard,” stated Davis, who is Third Street’s trainer. “I liked his draw and hope that (jockey) Jose Alvarez can take him back and make a late run, just like he did in his allowance win two weeks ago.”


Norman Racing Stable’s Strong Promise is the high earner in the field with $219,400 banked in seven starts. Conditioner Jayde Gelner will give a leg up to Floyd Whethey, Jr.


Trainer Bret Calhoun, who won the 2023 TTA Derby with Release McCraken, has two entrants: Mansfield Racing’s Take Charge J J, who is also entered at Fair Grounds and the stakes-placed Victory for Vets owned by James Stodola.


Michael and Linda Mazoch’s Tiz Considered has been impressive this season at Sam Houston Race Park with a strong maiden breaking score on January 5. The son of Jimmy Creed followed that with a victory in the $75,000 Groovy Stakes three weeks later. Jockey Freddy  Manrique has the return call for Trainer Austin Gustafson.


The Texas Thoroughbred Association Derby is set as the ninth race on Texas Champions Day card with an approximate post time of 5:05 pm.  The field, from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds is as follows: Coastal Brink, Erik Asmussen 12-1; Third Street, Jose Alvarez, 9-2; Shaken Loose, Stewart Elliott, 15-1;  Sharp Lorenzo, Rene Diaz, 3-1; Tiz Considered, Freddy Manrrique, 5-1; Mischievous M,  Leandro Goncalves, 15-1; Victory for Vets, David Cabrera, 7-2; Strong Promise, Floyd Wethey Jr, 8-1; Foo Flighter,  Isaiah Wiseman, 30-1; Classic Rick, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez, 10-1;  Deacon Jones, Anardis Rodriguez, 50-1 and Take Charge J J, Fernando Jara, 6-1. 


Saturday’s card will also feature five stakes for accredited Texas-breds.  A press release for the following features will be forthcoming:

$75,000 Richard King                                    4&up- 1 1/8 Mile (T) 

$75,000 San Jacinto                                      4&up F&M- 1 1/16 Mile (T) 

$75,000 Spirit of Texas                                  4&up- 6 Furlongs 

$75,000 Yellow Rose Stakes                         4&up F&M- 6 furlongs 

$75,000 Star of Texas                                    4&up- 1 Mile


Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Brunch and Awards Ceremony Set for Saturday, March 23

Sam Houston Race Park will host the  Texas Racing Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony this Saturday. The annual event honors Texas horses and prominent individuals who have made a significant impact to the Texas racing industry. The 2023 inductees are:


Leon Bard
Tommy & Johanna Bullard
Ken Carson
Tommie Morgan
Danny Shifflet
Triple Sec (TB)
Amy Cook will receive the JoAnn Weber Distinguished Service Award 


Following the brunch and awards ceremony, which begins at 11:00 am, the inductees and family members will be honored in the Sam Houston winner’s circle. They will present the trophy to the winning connections of the third race on the Texas Champions Day program.






Fred Faour Tribute

Houston racing and sports fans lost a highly respected member of the media last week with the passing of 

Fred Faour. He served as assistant Sports Editor for the Houston Chronicle and was promoted to Sports Editor in 2005. An ardent supporter of horse racing  throughout his tenure at the Chronicle, he showcased his passion for the sport as co-host ESPN radio’s drive time afternoon show. A stellar handicapper, Faour wrote tip sheets for Sam Houston Race Park for many years and was a witty and articulate participant in numerous handicapping seminars at the northwest Houston racetrack. A moment of silence in honor of Fred Faour will take place on Saturday, March 23.


About Sam Houston Race Park

Operated by Penn Entertainment Inc., Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles northwest of downtown Houston. 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  or follow on: FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok or YouTube.




Photo credit:  Coady Photography