THRILLING FINISHES IN THE $50,000 SAN MARCOS STAKES, $50,000 SELMA STAKES, $50,000 KING WILLIAM STAKES AND $50,000 TOWER OF THE AMERICAS STAKES AT SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK
Owner Patrick Richardson Wins Two of the Four Stakes
Viva Le Don Scores Again in the $50,000 San Marcos Stakes
The first feature of the evening, the $50,000 San Marcos Stakes with Viva Le Don securing his second 870 yard stakes of the season.
Bred and owned by Rockin J Running Horses, the 5-year-old son of Rock Solid Jess from the mare Viva Arriba is trained by Tammy Kay Johnson. He drew off to a 7 ½ length victory with Josh Romero in the irons in the Jesse Yoakum 870 Stakes on June 12.
This evening, once again, Romero guided his charge to the front and repelled the bid of Favorite Kool Cartel by three-lengths in the $50,000 San Marcos Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.
Under jockey Josh Romero, Viva Le Don dueled inside early then drew away from the field in the stretch while completing the 870 yards in :45.387seconds, a 103 speed index into 6 mph crosswind. The $30,000 winner's purse boosted his lifetime bankroll to nearly $442,000.
"It was just like the last win," said Romero. "I thought I had a good bit of pony left and when I asked him, he just laid it down."
"Every time you are just amazed at what he puts out," said Johnson. "He gives you everything he has! My husband Mike pulled him when he was born. He's just one of our kids and he has been just a dream!"
Johnson said Viva Le Don ($3.00) is on track to return in the $50,000 Benny Pennington Memorial Stakes at Sam Houston on July 30.
Favorite Kool Cartel dueled early but held for second under jockey Ricardo Garza-Cruz Aces Over Five, at odds of 23-1, completed the trifecta. Love To Zoom, One Mighty Eagle and Show Time completed the field.
Sheza Freighttrain T Tops Her Rivals in the $50,000 Selma Stakes
Sheza Freighttrain T made the most of her Sam Houston debut for owner Patrick Richardson and trainer Eric Long. The 3-year-old daughter of Freighttrain B garnered attention last year when she began her year with a runner-up finish in the Mardi Gras Futurity at Louisiana Downs prior to winning the $329,410 Lassie Futurity at Delta Downs. She has two wins already in her 3-year-old season, including a victory in the 250-yard Delta Dash on May 10.
Under Everardo Rodriguez, the current leading rider at Delta Downs, she got her first win in Texas as she defeated older horses for the second time in her career.
Bumped at the start, she got in gear and crossed the wire of the 350 yard stakes in :17.455 seconds, equaling a 104 speed index into a 5 mph crosswind. A steward’s inquiry for inference was lodged, but the order remained unchanged.
"She's very fast," said Rodriguez. " I knew I didn't interfere; it was more bumping from the six."
Eric Long conditions talented filly for owner Patrick Richardson, who lives in South Carolina. He was not able to make the trip to Houston, but was well represented by family members.
"We are very proud of her, " Patrick Richardson's brother Henry said after the race. "All you can say is she gives her all every time she's on the racetrack."
Sent off as the even-money favorite, Sheza Freighttrain T paid $4.00 for the win, her seventh victory in 12 starts. The $30,000 Selma winners' purse boosted her bankroll to $383,259.
Runner-up Ss Classyjess entered the Selma Stakes off a win in the Miss Sam Houston Stakes in her last start June 12th. A winner of 15 races from 35 starts the multiple stakes winner races for owner Edgar Rosales and is trained by Jose Carrizales. Fancy Pants Heidi, a 3-year-old daughter of champion sire , finished third. Completing the official order of finish were All About The Kiss, Separate Rain, Apollitical Snow, Nanyehi and Miss Julie Five Bar. Hh Gailforce, was cross-entered in the $50,000 King William Stakes and scratched from the Selma Stakes.
Hh Gailforce Places First in the $50,000 King William Stakes
The $50,000 King William Stakes, at a distance of 350 yards, attracted a field of eight including multiple graded stakes winner Valiant Tiberias.
However, after finishing first, the 5-year-old son of Valiant Hero, who had earned $661,683 in Oklahoma and New Mexico for owners Sergio Holguin, Cliften Nielsen and Felix Rodriguez, was disqualified and placed last for interference.
That meant that Hh Gailforce, who scratched out of the filly and mare stakes, was declared the winner. Jockey Luis Ruiz rode the 4-year-old daughter of Freighttrain B to victory in :17.745 seconds for the family-owned Egoizzta Partnership. Conditioned by trainer Joel Cantu, who was home in Roma, Texas with his wife awaiting the birth of their third child. His brothers were there to accept the trophy.
"We decided to run her in this based on her outside draw in the Selma Stakes, “said Jose Cantu. “She does not run well from that post. This mare has done so much for our family, "said Jose Cantu. "We all work with her and are so proud of her. She won the Mardi Gras Futurity and is still winning!"
It was the sixth career win for Louisiana-bred filly and the $30,000 winner's purse brought her lifetime earning mark to $314,121.
Pa Cha Ching, a colt by Tempting Dash, was moved to second place. John Stinebaugh trains the 4-year-old Texas-bred for owners Robert Armor, Samuel Henderson, and Helen Henderson. Jose Martinez had the riding call. Bred by Pat Allen, from the Jody O Toole mare Tolle N Round, Pa Cha Ching has earned $166,248.
The Grand Legend was placed third, followed by Magnifico Dragon, Katchi Dat, High Rate Of Motion, Butch Glory and Valiant Tiberias.
Stone Cold Leader Dominates in the $50,000 Tower of the Americas Stakes
The final stakes on Friday night’s card was the 550-yard $50,000 Tower of the Americas Stakes.
Patrick Richardson’s Stone Cold Leader returned off his runner-up finish in the $112,000 Sam Houston Classic. The Indiana-bred son of Brookstone Bay has eight stakes wins since he made his debut at Indiana Grand, capturing two futurities in 2017. He made his presence felt the following year Louisiana, winning both the Firecracker Derby at Delta Downs and the Evangeline Downs Derby. The 6-year-old gelding has bankrolled $563,293 in 30 career efforts.
Bryan Candanosa had the return call aboard Stone Cold Leader from post position eight for trainer Eric Long and drew clear by a margin of four lengths, completing the 550 yards in :27.088 seconds, equaling a 110 speed index into a 5 mph headwind.
Multiple graded stakes winner Stone Cold Leader was much the best tonight when he drew away to a four-length win over Ten Sent in the $50,000 Tower Of The Americas Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.
Candanosa, who is just 19, has been riding for three years and was delighted to ride the multiple-stakes winner.
"Honestly, it's a blessing to be on such a great horse," said Candanosa. " I appreciate the owners and trainer for their support. It's an honor to ride him. They asked me what I thought of running in this and I told them he would get it done!"
It was the 15th career win for the 6-year-old and the $30,000 winners' purse pushed his career mark to over $593,000.
"We knew he always had a thought close on him and in the Sam Houston Classic, he ran well, but it was just a little short," Long said. "We were still proud of him but looked forward to running him at 550."
Bred in Indiana by Mark Michel, from the Leader Of The Class mare Sheza Classy Leader, Stone Cold Leader picked up his first win of the season after finishing second in the Sam Houston Classic (G2) and third in the Miss Polly Classic(G2).
Coming off a third-place effort in the Sam Houston 550 Stakes June 12th, Ten Sent finished second for trainer Ty Remington. Twelve Percent, a 5-year-old son of multiple stakes sire High Rate of Return, finished 1-¼ lengths back to complete the trifecta. Ghost Bear, The Kings Horse, Jess Paint Me Quick and Bv Last Kiss completed the field. Dm La Jolla Cartel was scratched.
Three Trials for the Retama Park Derby Set for Thursday, July 8
Sam Houston Race Park’s Thursday card will include three trials at the distance of 400 yards for the $100,000-added Retama Park Derby. On Friday, July 9, there will be nine trials to determine the top ten qualifiers for the $100,000-added TQHA Sale Futurity.
Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse Racing Post Times
Post time will be 6:45 pm (Central) throughout the 20-day season, which will conclude on August 7. A complete list of racing dates, stakes and trial dates is available on shrp.com.
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. The Park 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