THE FIELD IS SET FOR THE $461,835 SAM HOUSTON FUTURITY (G2) ON SATURDAY, JUNE 3 AT SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK
Records on the Line for Trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. and Owner Rogelio Marquez, Jr.
By Martha Claussen
HOUSTON, TX –Sam Houston Race Park ran 18 trials for the richest race of the 2023 Quarter Horse meet, the $461,835 Sam Houston Futurity (G2). On May 12 and May 13. Five qualifiers from each night will return this Saturday, June 3, and each of the connections are hopeful that their horse will capture the prestigious championship.
Two Texas horsemen who have shown dominance in Texas Quarter Horse racing, will have major bragging rights with a victory in the 330-yard Sam Houston Futurity.
Juan Diaz, Jr. has trained the past two winners of the Sam Houston Futurity, and a third win will place him in the history books as the first trainer since the first running of the championship in 1994 to win for the third time. The 34-year-old resident of Floresville, Texas has four finalists running Saturday night.
Diaz. “We were all there at the Sale. He was pricey but got a lot of votes! The owners have been great; no pressure and trust the work that we do. You can’t go wrong with a fast horse!”
In addition to Gotagogh, who will be ridden by Jose Hebert, Diaz also qualified Colley’s Cartel for owner Josefina Guzman; Juan M Lozano’s homebred Jess Flying Cowgirl and Hardtotempt for owner-breeder Louis Malechek III. Nestor Duran has a call aboard Colley’s Cartel; 2023 Louisiana Downs leading rider Ubaldo Luna will ride Jess Flying Cowgirl and Victory Urieta, Jr., who won the 2021 Sam Houston Futurity on BH Inx and the 2022 running with Bye Corona Bye, will pilot Hardtotempt.
Diaz was modest when asked about his chances of winning a third edition of the Sam Houston Futurity.
“Honestly, I try not to think about it,” said Diaz. “It’s a cool feeling for our owners and the team, who work so hard. We are grateful to have so many fine horses, but you don’t win all the time in racing. We will just go out there Saturday and do our best!”
Quarter Horse breeder and owner Rogelio Marquez, Jr. has already made history at Sam Houston Race Park and hopes to add his first title in the SH Futurity with San Lorenzo Queen, who set the fastest qualifying time in the second night of trials.
Th first three trials on May 13 were run on schedule, but an intense thunderstorm delayed the running of the fifth race by an hour. However, it did not have an adverse effect on San Lorenzo Queen, who made her racing debut in the sixth trial of the evening. The daughter of Ivan James out of Dashnunder Afullmoon set the fastest time of :16.873 seconds, over a sloppy track. Luis Vivanco had the call for trainer Jesus Marquez.
San Lorenzo Queen has overcome challenges in the past, including a bout with colitis as a yearling. There was no hesitation in having Dr. Larry Findley at Delta Equine provide the necessary care for her recovery.
“She was foaled in our farm in (Vinton) Louisiana,” explained Marquez. “We saw her one week after she was born, and I knew she was special. Of course, her dam Dashnunder Afullmoon was the mare who started everything for us.”
Marquez reported that San Lorenzo Queen came out of her trial is good shape and that Vivanco, who piloted 2014 Sam Houston Futurity winner Kiss My Hocks, will have the return call.
“Luis is an experienced rider, and we are still so pleased that our first time starter ran so well in her debut,” he said.
Marquez, who lives in Rosenberg, Texas, has been a force in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas racing with the majority of his horses named after the Marquez family birthplace, San Lorenzo, Mexico. At last count, Marquez has won 31 graded stakes since getting involved in the industry in 2016.
Talk about tough decisions for the owner/breeder as not only will San Lorenzo Queen run in the Sam Houston Futurity; Marquez also bred and owns San Lencho, who set the fastest qualifying time to Saturday’s $1.1 million Heritage Place Futurity (G1) at Remington Park.
“I guess it’s a nice problem to have,” quipped Marquez. “Houston is home for my family, and we have had some memorable wins at Sam Houston Race Park. Wild Tycoon was just our second stakes winner when he won the (2017) Texas Twister. Of course, when San Lorenzo won his trial for the (2021) Sam Houston Derby, he became our first million dollar earner.”
The winner of this year’s Sam Houston Futurity will take home a check for $184,734 and join a prestigious list of champions. Since its first running in 1994, the list includes War Colors, Azoom, All American Winner, Snowy Alibi, Especially Tres, Ivan James and This Is An Eagle. Several winners have gone on to national prominence, including Kiss My Hocks, who won in 2014 and was honored as AQHA Champion 2-Year-Old Colt, and Trump My Record, who was named 2019 AQHA Champion 2-Year-Old Gelding.
The Sam Houston Futurity will run as the tenth race on the Saturday night card, with an approximate post time of 10:28 pm (Central). Here is the field, in post position order with jockeys and morning line odds:
Three Additional Stakes to be Contested on Saturday, June 3
Post time for Saturday’s ten race card is 6:25 pm. The stakes action gets underway in race seven with the running of the $50,000 John Buchanan Memorial, followed by the $50,000 Leon Bard Memorial. The ninth race is the $51,315 Sam Houston Juvenile, with the 11th through 20th qualifiers from Sam Houston Futurity trials, invited to compete. A press release on the three stakes is forthcoming.
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 Entertainment 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 www.shrp.com.
Photos: Coady Photography