150th Kentucky Derby
May 4th, 2024
Mar 30, 2021


The Meet’s Leading Owner, Trainer and Jockey will be honored on the Final Night of the 2021 Thoroughbred Racing Season

HOUSTON, TX- Sam Houston Race Park will close out its 2021Thoroughbred racing season on Saturday, April 3 with three stakes and the presentation of the end of the meet awards to the leading owner, trainer and jockey. The newly formed Houston Showcase Night is a trio of stakes: two on the Connally Turf Course and a seven furlong test on the main track.


Saturday’s card gets underway at 6:45 pm (Central). Here are previews of the $75,000 Bucharest Stakes; $75,000 Miss Houston Turf Stakes and $75,000 Bayou City Stakes.


Nitrous and Sky Ride Return  in the $75,000 Bucharest Stakes 

A compact but potent field will compete in the $75,000 Bucharest Stakes, which will run as the fourth race of the card. Two rivals from the $75,000 Stonerside Sprint, which took place on January 31, will meet again, this time at the distance of seven furlongs.


Sky Ride, a Kentucky-bred son of  Candy Ride, closed powerfully to dead-heat with Hollis in the Stonerside. The 4-year-old gelding, trained by J.R. Caldwell for owner Triple V Racing LLC, was ridden by Leandro Goncalves, who notched his 2,000th career win here last Saturday night. The finish was memorable for the winners and the Houston Racing Festival fans. 


Caldwell has no issue with the added distance for Sky Ride, and will also test the waters with Good Scout, who has won his last two starts at Sam Houston Race Park for Farmer Fillies Racing.


"Sky Ride is a closing sprinter and should be within striking distance at seven furlongs" said Caldwell. "Nitrous is the horse we fear the most, but fans better watch out for Good Scout."


Nitrous, a 5-year-old son of Tapit, owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC finished second behind Sky Ride and Hollis in the Stonerside. Stewart Elliott has the return call aboard the stakes winner for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. The gray, who has earned $555,716 in 19 starts, will break from post position five. Asmussen also trains Mike McCarty’s Gold Street, a 4-year-old colt by Street Boss, who ships in from Oaklawn Park and will be ridden by Reylu Gutierrez.


“He’s a Winchell homebred and seven-eighths of a mile suits him,” said Asmussen of Nitrous. “I look forward to running Gold Street as well. He had success at the stakes level at Oaklawn.”


Dr Boehrer, owned and trained by Clifford Dodson, returns off a third-place finish in the $100,000 Spirit of Texas and Trumps Revenge, who completed the trifecta in the $100,000 Star of Texas for Ken Pullen and Christie Love, will also run Saturday night.


The stakes is named in honor of the late Thoroughbred sprinter Bucharest, owned by Israel Flores and trained by Amos Laborde, who set three track records at Sam Houston Race Park, including the lightning fast six furlong time of 1:08.88 on May 11, 1994, as well as his 1:12.29 seven furlong clocking on May 4, 1996. 


Overflow Field of Fillies and Mares Will Vie in the $75,000 Miss HoustonTurf Stakes

The popularity of the Connally Turf Course at Sam Houston Race Park has grown in unprecedented fashion this season, so it’s no surprise that the interest in the $75,000 Miss Houston Turf was very strong.  Twelve fillies and mares, and two also eligibles, will compete at the distance on one mile in what appears to be a wide-open contest.


Raven’s Cry (IRE) will be a force if she draws in from the also eligible list. The 4-year-old daughter of Raven’s Pass has won three of her eight turf starts for owner Martin S. Schwartz. She’s trained by Eclipse Award winning condition Brad Cox and will be ridden by Diego Saenz.


Asmussen will test the turf prowess of Palio Flag, a 4-year-old Curlin filly owned by Stonestreet Stables LLC. She will be making both her turf and Sam Houston Race Park debut after allowance victories at Churchill Downs and most recently, Oaklawn Park. Stewart Elliot will ride the chestnut filly with Ty Kennedy guiding Asmussen’s other entrant, Miss Perfecta. She ran second in the $75,000 Miss Bluebonnet Turf here on February 27 for owners Tyree J. Wolesnesky and Jose Silva, Jr.


“Palio Flag is a quality filly,” stated Asmussen. “With Curlin in her pedigree, I expect her to take to the turf. Miss Perfecta is an accomplished turf  mare (with five wins from eight starts on the grass).” 


Love Partnership Interests LP’s Valentines Day, at 21-1, was third in the $75,000 Jersey Lilly on January 31 for trainer Bret Calhoun. He feels that the 4-year-old daughter of Summer Front, will take a step forward on Saturday night. Lindey Wade will guide her from post eight.


“This filly has been one of those gradual improving types,” said Calhoun. “We always thought she wanted to go longer. Lindey has been her regular rider and will try to get her to settle and make a late run. This is a solid group of fillies and it’s nice to see the full fields and interest in Sam Houston this year.”


Another experienced turf mare is Curlin’s Journey who returns to action for trainer Dallas Keen with jockey Sophie Doyle in the saddle.


Quick Quick Quick looks to be strong contender in the Miss Houston Turf for trainer J.R. Caldwell and rider Leandro Goncalves.


“She was stakes-placed at Remington Park and we got her to settle this meet at Sam Houston,” commented Caldwell. “She tries hard every time and has tactical speed. A mile and one-sixteenth might be a little out of her range, but I think she will have success going a mile.”


Caldwell, whose runners are in the money here at a lofty 57% clip, wanted to convey a compliment regarding  the 2021 Sam Houston Race Park meet.


“I want to thank the Sam Houston management and the Texas Thoroughbred Association for their efforts this year,” said Caldwell. “Owners have come out of the woodwork for me, wanting to run here. We will go to Lone Star Park and then Remington Park, but we are already pointing for next year at Sam Houston!”


Promising Son of Runhappy Makes His Stakes Debut in the $75,000 Bayou City Stakes

The $75,000 Bayou City Stakes for 3-year-olds will also be contested on the final night of the Sam Houston Race Park live racing season.  Eight are entered in the mile and one-sixteenth turf feature, which will run as the eighth race on the card.


Drivehappy has been an impressive winner in both of his starts this season at Sam Houston Race Park, breaking his maiden on January 28 and drawing off by four lengths in an allowance win one month later. Owned by Holly and David Wilson, Siena Farm LLC, Gary Stevens and Asmussenequine.com, the son of Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Runhappy is trained by Steve Asmussen.


“He won his last two-turn race and I felt this was a good opportunity to step into the stakes ranks against 3-year-olds,” said Asmussen. “(Former top jockey and racing analyst) Gary Stevens and the Wilsons have brought many new owners to partnerships and that is great for our sport.”


Drivehappy’s main rival looks to be Royal Prince, who exits a victory in the $75,000 Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds on February 27. Owned by Steve Landers, LLC, the 4-year-old colt by Cairo Prince has won two of his five starts for trainer Brad Cox. Top Louisiana-based jockey Diego Saenz has the call and will break from the rail post as the 2-1 morning line favorite.


Scotty Caroom’s Holy Vow brings a two-race turf win streak into the Bayou City. The Kentucky-bred son of Private Vow is trained by Scott Young with Sophie Doyle back aboard. I’m Money, who ran third to Drivehappy last month, is also entered. The son of Bayern is owned and trained by Travis Short.


Leandro Goncalves Wins His 2,000th Career Race on Saturday, March 27

Jockey Leandro Goncalves won his 2,000th Thoroughbred race in North America on Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park.


Goncalves, 38, was born in Brazil, and began riding in the United States in 2005. He has been successful at many tracks across the country, including Indiana Grand, Turfway Park, Keeneland, Tampa Bay Downs and Louisiana Downs.


The victory aboard Gurkha Gold, who is owned by Russell Welch and trained by Karl Broberg, was very special to Goncalves.


“I was so happy to get to ride her back,” he said. “I told the owner that she would be tough to beat going two turns and she proved me right! I love riding turf races and have to say that Houston has one of the best courses I have ever ridden on.”


It has been an excellent meet for Goncalves at Sam Houston Race Park where enters the final week third in the standings.  Travis Church has been his agent and will continue to represent him next at Lone Star Park. 


Goncalves was thrilled with the recognition last Saturday night where he was joined with his wife, Julianna, and his fellow riders.


“When I left Brazil 25 years ago, I dreamed of riding and winning races in the United States,” Goncalves stated. “To win my 2,000th race means so much to me! From where I came from, it is a dream come true.”


About Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. SHRP offers a variety of attractions including 16 recently renovated luxury suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options int the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and Jockey Club.  For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.



Photo Credits:  Coady Photography