Trials for the Sam Houston Maiden Classic Kick Off the 2014 American Quarter Horse Meet at Sam Houston Race Park

(Houston, Texas - Wednesday, March 19, 2014) - Live American Quarter Horse racing returns to Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, March 21st. Known for their explosive starts and powerful finishes, the "world's fastest athletes" will provide plenty of thrills throughout the 24-day racing season. Post times are set for Thursday and Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday at 6:00 p.m. with special afternoon matinees to take place on Saturday, May 3 (Kentucky Derby) and Sunday, May 11 (Mother's Day), the final day of the meet.

Opening night will honor the men and women who serve our country with Military Appreciation Night offering FREE admission for Military with valid ID. The festivities will include a live National Anthem performance by Master Sergeant Promise Harris, and an aircraft fly over by the Houston Wing of the CAF. Gates open at 5:30 with the popular 50 cent beer and $1.50 wine specials; the National Anthem at 6:30, and first race at 7 p.m.!

Each of the ten races on Friday evening are 350-yard trials for the Sam Houston Maiden Classic. The fastest ten qualifiers will advance to the final on Saturday, April 5.

Pat Green Opens Spring Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park

The 2014 American Quarter Horse Meet will feature the entertaining post-race concert series on Friday and Saturday nights, with an exceptional lineup of artists. The first concert is set for Saturday, March 22 when Texas country legend Pat Green will take the Bud Light Stage. The concert series will be FREE for all guests that purchase $7 general admission tickets to live racing before 8:00 p.m. Admission will be $20 for guests arriving after 8:00 p.m.

The 2014 Spring Concert Series at Sam Houston Race Park will take place on the Bud Light Stage following live racing on Friday and Saturday nights from March through May. A variety of Country and Texas Country artists will take to the Bud Light Stage following live racing where they will play to an open lawn. Seating is on a first come, first serve basis. While at Sam Houston Race Park racing and music fans can take advantage of the Winner's Circle Restaurant with packages starting at $28.00 including admission before 8:00 p.m., and Chophouse Buffet.

A total of six artists will perform on Friday and Saturday nights with the series wrapping up on Saturday, May 10th.

The Spring Concert Series performers are as follows:
Pat Green - Saturday, March 22
Casey Donahew - Saturday, March 29
Cody Canada and the Departed - Saturday, April 5
Jack Ingram - Saturday, April 12
Reckless Kelly - Friday, May 2
Cody Johnson - Saturday, May 10

Trainer Judd Kearl and Jockey Luis Vivanco to Defend Titles

Racing fans will see the return of many familiar trainers including Judd Kearl, who has won the Sam Houston leading training title six times; Trey Wood, Bobby Touchet, James Gerhards, Jesse Yoakum, Yasmine Fierro, Jose Espinoza, Guy Hopkins, Brian Stroud and Cindi Keeton.

Jockey Luis Vivanco, who earned his second leading Sam Houston Race Park riding title last year, leads a full jockey colony. David Alvarez, Luis Ramirez, Jerry Lee Yoakum, Ricardo Aguirre Santos Carrizales and Saul Ramirez, Jr. are among the other returning jockeys.

Special Post Time Set for Saturday, March 29

Due to an exceptional number of nominations for the Sam Houston Futurity (G2), there could be as many as 18 trials run on Saturday, March 29. As a result, Sam Houston Race Park has moved its evening post time to 2:00 p.m. The ten fastest two-year-olds will advance to the final which will be run on Saturday, April 19.

Last year's Sam Houston Futurity champion, Especially Tres, went on to compete in the prestigious $2.4 million All American Futurity on Labor Day at Ruidoso Downs. The talented filly, trained by Trey Wood, ran fourth and is expected to resume training soon for the Derby season at Ruidoso Downs.

"She is a very special filly," said Wood, who expects to run between 16 and 18 in trials for the Sam Houston Futurity. "You never know who will step up early in the year, but we are looking forward to running her full brother, Tres Air in trials for the Sam Houston Futurity."

Upcoming Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park

There are 18 stakes on the 2014 American Quarter Horse Stakes schedule and Sam Houston Race Park will once again participate in the Bank of America Racing Challenge, the richest and most successful program in American Quarter Horse racing today. Stakes highlights include:

Sat., March 22 - Harris County Stakes
Sat., April 12 - Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G1) & Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge
Sat., April 19 - Sam Houston Futurity (G2) & Sam Houston Derby (G3)
Sat., April 26 - Merial Texas Distaff Challenge
Sat., May 3 - Sam Houston Classic (G2)
Sun, May 11 - John Deere Juvenile Challenge (G3) & Adequan Texas Derby Challenge

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