TRAINER J.R. CALDWELL MORE THAN READY FOR THE 2022 SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK THOROUGHBRED MEET
Opening Day for the 50-Day Live Racing Season is Thursday, January 6
HOUSTON, TX – The day-to-day responsibilities of training racehorses is more than most people outside of the industry can fathom. In short, it’s a 24-hour commitment beginning with acquiring quality owners, conditioning horses through morning works, making equipment adjustments when necessary and finding the right level come entry time. Coupled with attending sales, supervising staff, selecting a jockey, shipping to the next destination and dealing with weather extremes, it is far from an easy way to make a living.
Thoroughbred trainer J. R. Caldwell always loved horses. He rode on the bush tracks as a young teenager and assisted his father, Roscoe, running horses in Utah, Arizona, Wyoming and Idaho for decades before going out on his own at the age of 18. The wins did not come very often in the beginning, but in 2008, the tide changed. His top earner, Texas Chrome, was a two-time Texas Thoroughbred Association Horse of the Year and is now standing stud in Arkansas. Caldwell set up shop at Churchill Downs, Remington Park, Delta Downs and Lone Star Park. Two years ago, he finished tenth in the standings at Sam Houston Race Park. He remembers the end of 2020 as a turning point for himself and his stable.
“I was mentally fatigued and pulled my horses out of Remington Park,” he recalled. “Sam Houston got a nice boost in purses and despite the challenges of COVID-19, they worked with us.”
Caldwell started the 2021 season here strongly, and finished second in the standings with 34 victories, 21 seconds and 23 third-place finishes. His runners hit the board at a respectable 56% with Sky Ride, winning the Stonerside Stakes in a dead-heat with Hollis and taking the Bucharest Stakes on closing night of the season.
“Finishing second to Steve (Asmussen) is like being leading trainer,” quipped Caldwell. “But Houston got us off to a great start for the year and we did well at Lone Star as well. It was the third-best year of my career.”
On opening night of the 2022 season, the Idaho native has runners entered in nine of the ten races and hopes to replicate his success from last year.
“When we finished at Lone Star, I was gearing up for Houston,” added Caldwell. “I’m blessed to have good owners who support me buying some nice Texas-breds. I have goals for this year at Sam Houston, for sure, but am happy to be in one place, winning races and keeping my owners happy.”
Caldwell currently resides in Valley View, Texas. He relies on Kylie Salisbury, who has been his assistant trainer for the past six years. Jockeys Lane Luzzi and Obed Sanchez will ride the majority of his runners and last year’s rider Stewart Elliott will also have mounts for Caldwell when he is not riding for Asmussen.
Entries are complete for the opening weekend and several other conditioners will be prominent. Steve Asmussen, who has won 13 previous leading trainer titles at Sam Houston Race Park, has entered six runners for opening day. Karl Broberg continues to be a strong supporter and has nine horses, including doubles in two of the races. Ronnie Cravens, Sarah Davidson, Karen Jacks and Ronald Kotara also have multiple entrants.
Racehorse Ownership Event Set for Opening Night
The Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) invites individuals to learn more about the many facets of owning a racehorse. They are offering an event on Thursday, January 6 to enjoy live racing and meet special guest. Houston radio personality and horse racing handicapper Fred Faour and former Houston Oiler/Dallas Cowboy NFL star and now racehorse owner Mike Renfro will be on hand for the special owner-preview event in the suite level at Sam Houston Race Park.
Meet trainers and racehorse owners for valuable information and get a behind the scenes look at the racehorse ownership experience. Reservations are required; complete this form if you are interested in attending.
Sam Houston Race Park Post Times
The 2022 live racing season opens on Thursday, January 6 at 4:00 pm (CT). Live racing will also take place on Friday and Saturday at 6:45 pm. There will be a special 1:45 pm post time for the Houston Racing Festival on Sunday, January 30. Wednesday cards, beginning on February 16, will be added to the schedule with a 4:00 pm first post. The Thoroughbred meet concludes on Saturday, April 9. A full schedule of post times and special racing events is posted on shrp.com.
Handicapping Analysts and Wagering Menu For the Live Racing Season
Sam Houston Race Park’s new track announcer Nick Tammaro and NHC Champion Trey Stiles are co-hosts of the daily SHRPeTime Preview Show and will welcome several nationally prominent racing analysts throughout the 2022 Thoroughbred meet. Jessica Paquette returns to Houston for opening weekend after offering her insights in the 2021 Thoroughbred season and serving as one of the guest announcers for last year’s Quarter Horse meet. Also, TVG will broadcast live on Sunday, January 30 for the premier day of the meet, the Houston Racing Festival.
Sam Houston Race Park was one of the first North American racetracks to initiate an industry-low take-out fee of 12% on multi-race wagers and will also offer win, place, show, exacta (at a 20% takeout in 2022, trifecta and superfecta wagers. The Space City Pick 6, the track’s classic Pick 6 wager will be offered on the last six races of each card. For more information on wagering and simulcast offerings, visit shrp.com.
Nominations for the Houston Racing Festival Close on Wednesday, January 19
The Houston Racing Festival with six stakes races offering over $1 million in purses, will take place on Sunday, January 30 with a 1:45 pm (Central) post time. The Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, now in its tenth running, anchors the Houston Racing Festival, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, $200,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile, $100,000 Pulse Power Turf Sprint, $75,000 Jersey Lilly Turf Stakes and $75,000 Stonerside Sprint.
Nominations for the Houston Racing Festival close on Wednesday, January 19.
Sam Houston Race Park Stakes Schedule
The 2022 Thoroughbred Stakes schedule will offer $2,275,000 in purses. Opportunities for Texas-breds will be plentiful in the upcoming meet with 14 Texas-bred stakes beginning on Thursday, January 20 with the $75,000 My Dandy and $75,000 Darby’s Daughter. All seven stakes races on Texas Champions Day will run with purses of $100,000.
2022 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred Stakes Schedule
Thursday, January 20, 2022 Texas Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series
$75,000 My Dandy - 3yo – 5 ½ Furlongs
$75,000 Darby’s Daughter - 3yo F – 5 ½ Furlongs
Sunday, January 30, 2022 Houston Racing Festival – Over $1,000,000 in Purses
$400,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) - 4&up F&M - 1 1/16 Mile
$200,000 John B. Connally Turf (G3) - 4&up - 1 1/2 Mile (T)
$200,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile- 3YO -1 Mile (T)
$100,000 Pulse Power Turf Sprint - 4&up - 5 Furlongs (T)
$75,000 Jersey Lilly Turf - 4&up F&M - 1 1/16 Mile (T)
$75,000 Stonerside Sprint - 4&up - 6 Furlongs
Saturday, February 19, 2022 Texas Preview Day for Texas-breds
$75,000 Jim’s Orbit - 3yo - 6 Furlongs
$75,000 Two Altazano - 3yo F - 6 Furlongs
$75,000 H-Town – 4 YO & up 7 Furlongs
$75,000 Miss Bluebonnet Turf - 4&up F&M - 1 Mile (T)
$75,000 Houston Turf - 4&up – 1 1/16 Miles (T)
Saturday, February 26, 2022 Texas Arabian Night
$30,000-added Texas Six Shooter (G3) – 4 &5 yo - 7 Furlongs
$30,000-added Yellow Rose (G3) – 4 &5 yo F&M - 7 Furlongs
Saturday, March 19, 2022 Darley Night
$30,000 Darley Distaff – 4 yo & up F&M - 7 Furlongs
$30,000 Darley Sprint – 4 yo & up - 7 Furlongs
Saturday, March 26, 2022 Texas Champions Day for Texas-breds
$100,000 Bara Lass Stakes - 3yo F - 6 Furlongs
$100,000 Groovy Stakes - 3yo - 6 furlongs
$100,000 San Jacinto - 4&up F&M - 1 1/16 Mile (T)
$100,000 Spirit of Texas - 4&up - 6 Furlongs
$100,000 Yellow Rose Stakes - 4&up F&M - 6 furlongs
$100,000 Star of Texas - 4&up -1 Mile
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 National Gaming. 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.
Photo credit: Coady Photography