Apr 29, 2017


So Rapido Captures the $197,700 Sam Houston Derby (G3)

The final of the richest race of the 2017 Quarter Horse Meeting, the $483,600 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) took place tonight at Sam Houston Race Park, and the title went This Is An Eagle. The son of One Famous Eagle out of the First Down Dash mare Lady Lilia showed he had talent in his trial win and was remarkable in the final.


Jockey Francisco Calderon had stated that he knew from the first time he worked the colt, he knew he was special. He broke alertly and never relinquished his lead, covering 330 yards in :16.542, earning a 103 speed index


This was the second Sam Houston Futurity victory for Calderon, who rode 2016 champion Just Call Me Carter.


“He showed a lot of heart,” said Calderon. “I have to give credit to Leon and Omar, his groom, Ricardo and the whole team. They do a great job.”


Calderon and his wife, Valerie, are expecting their first child in August.


“I am very happy,” added Calderon. “This year has been going great; winning these Challenge races and this big race. God has blessed me every day!”


Pete Scarmardo, who has been honored as Sam Houston Race Park’s leading Quarter Horse owner three times, is the breeder of This Is An Eagle. Owner Mary G. Lynne Thompson purchased the talented colt for $100,000 at the 2016 TQHA Yearling Sale.


The proud owner walked her champion into the winner’s circle with Bard, and was asked what the victory meant to her.


“I was speechless and still am,” said Thompson.


This was the first Sam Houston Futurity victory for Bard, who is having an incredible meet this year.

“I watched this baby grow up in Pete’s pasture,” said Bard. “I went by at least once a month and looked at him and This Is A Deal Too.  Of all the colts he had, we felt they were the best two. We followed them when they went to Granada Farms for sale prepping. They are both very good colts; This Is a Deal Too got in trouble tonight, but he’ll be back.”


Bard acknowledged that This Is An Eagle will head to Ruidoso and is paid into the Rainbow and All American Futurities. He added that “provided everything goes well, he’ll come back to Texas for the Texas Classic Futurity at Lone Star Park.

“I knew the first time we worked him,” said Bard. “Mary Lynne is a great owner and stepped up to purchase this horse. Pete raised him; we think he’s the real deal.”


Scarmardo watched the race and even though his homebred, This Is A Deal Too, finished eighth, he was pleased for Leon and Mary Lynne.


“I’m thrilled for Mary Lynne,” he said. “She is very deserving and he’s a nice horse. We’ll have another day with our horse.”


JA Am I Blue, owned by Irma Vargas ran second with Jesse Lee Levario aboard.


“We will geld him and point him to the Texas Classic Futurity,” said trainer Rolando Almanza. 


Leading Sam Houston trainer Judd Kearl, saddled the third-place finisher, Lena Cartel for owners Meg and David Brown.


“She will go to Ruidoso,” said Kearl.


Capital Ice, who won the three-way shake for the final, ran fourth, followed by fastest qualifier Kas Tempting, Tempting Goinbye ,Lj Fastest Time and This Is A Deal Too. Nocturnes was fractious in the gate and was scratched and Hesa Icon suffered an injury on the backside following his trial, and did not run.


This Is An Eagle was sent off as the favorite and paid $4.40 for the win. The sorrel colt earned $193,440 and added his name to a noted list of Sam Houston Futurity winners, including 2014 AQHA Champion 2-year-old Kiss My Hocks;  Especially Tres, who ran fourth the 2013 All American Futurity and Azoom, winner of 11 races in 2004.


So Rapido Triumphs in the $191,000 Sam Houston Derby (G3)

So Rapido, a son of Corona Cartel, owned by Rachuan Suarez of Vera Cruz, Mexico, was a very game winner of the $197,700 Sam Houston Derby (G3).


Suarez enlisted the services of 2016 AQHA Racing champion trainer Judd Kearl following his ninth-place finish in the $1 million Texas Classic Futurity.


“I didn’t have the horse last year, but Rachuan sent him to me over the winter,” said Kearl. “He needed his trial race and came back super. He’s a tiny horse, with a big heart.”


So Rapido was the fourth-fastest qualifier in trials run on April 14.


“He’s a great horse and doesn’t make any mistakes,” said winning rider Rodrigo Vallejo, who defeated nine rivals in the 350-yard stakes in :17.445.


“I am very proud of him,” said Suarez. “He’s a very classy horse and  has a long career ahead of him. Judd has done a wonderful job.”


Irma Vargas’ Maxx ran second under Manuel Gutierrez, followed by Dash Quick Perry, One Sweet Merlot, Dm La Jolla, Thriving Ivory, Like a Denali, Eagle Cry, Sochi Special and Master O Distraction.  


So Rapido went to the gates as the fourth-betting choice, rewarding his supporters with a win payout of $16.40. He earned $79,080 for the victory and will likely make his next start in the Retama Park Derby, according to Kearl.


Daddys Blushing Captures the $48,360 Sam Houston Juvenile

The $48,360 Sam Houston Juvenile, at 330 yards, was also contested Saturday evening. The field is comprised of 2-year-olds that competed in trials for the Sam Houston Futurity three weeks ago, but did not qualify. Entry to the Sam Houston Juvenile was granted with preference to their trial time.


Trainer Leon Bard added his third consecutive win in the Juvenile with Daddys Blushing for owner Gary Hartstack. The gelded son of Big Daddys Cartel, who broke his maiden on April 7, won his trial, but was tied for the fifth-fastest qualifying time. He lost the shake, but returned for the victory tonight under Francisco Calderon, covering 330-yards into an 18 mph headwind in :16.843.


“He tries so hard every time he runs, but he bled and had to be vanned off, “said Calderon.


Bard also saddled the runner-up, Just Another Natural, a filly bred and owned by T.C. Flack. Rider L. Salvador Martinez piloted the daughter of Furyofthewind.


“If she hadn’t gotten bumped, she would have won,” stated Martinez.


Bard won the 2015 and 2016 edition of the Juvenile, lighting up the toteboard last year with Tac My Time ($26.20) for owners Marco Ramirez and Gary Hartstack. His winning 2-year-old in 2015 was Empty Arms.


Daddys Blushing, sent off as the second betting choice, paid $10.40 for the win. Longshot Mi Rey Cartel ran third under Juan Garcia, Jr, followed by Krash N Diamonds, Thecartelofmiracles, Eye B Dashing, Mystical Jess, Prison Break, Coronarita Blue and Raise Sweet.


Black Onyx Sets Fastest Qualifying Time in John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge Trials

Eight trials were contested on Friday, April 28 for the $70,110 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge (G3). 


Black Onyx, a son of Rock Solid Jess owned by Holly Hooper, was an impressive winner, covering 350-yards in :18.051 seconds. He broke his maiden here on March 31, and returned to the winner’s circle last night for trainer Angel Sanchez and rider Jose Martinez,


Trainer Brian Stroud qualified three runners, including Michael Amburn’s homebred Jess Tee, who notched the second-fastest time of :18.077 under jockey Francisco Garcia, Jr.  The Texas horseman continues to be a force in the John Deere Texas Juvenile; he campaigned last year’s fastest qualifier and runner-up in the final, Teardrops At The Bar for James Hrabovsky and Leann Nalls.


For the complete list of John Deere Texas Juvenile qualifiers, times, sires, dams, owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys CLICK HERE. The ten finalists will return to action here on Saturday, May 20. The winner will advance to the $130,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) at Prairie Meadows on October 14.


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 www.shrp.com.