Final Weekend of Live Quarter Horse Racing at SHRP Features the Sam Houston Futurity and Derby

The 2007 Sam Houston Race Park American Quarter Horse Meeting will conclude on Saturday, September 8 and two major stakes races will highlight the final weekend of the season.

On Friday, September 7, 2-year-olds will take center stage with the running of the $341,700 Sam Houston Futurity. Fastest qualifier XO Kate, who made her first start of the meeting in trials two weeks ago, will face a field of nine, including TQHA Sires’ Cup Futurity winner Pool. Saturday night’s card will feature the finals of the $114,400 Sam Houston Derby with My First Passion leading the field of 3-year-olds. XO Kate, trained by Heath Taylor, is 5-2 on the morning line and will break from post position two under G. R. Carter, Jr. Pool, who has won each of his three starts here this meeting, is 7-2 for trainer Ricardo Hinojosa and rider Manuel Garcia. Pool drew the rail and Dirt Track Date, who won the $372,662 TQHA Sale Futurity on July 28, is 8-1. Trained by Tooter Jordan, Dirt Track Date is the highest earner in the field with $171,415 in purses since she began her racing career on May 13.

The Sam Houston Futurity will run as the eighth race of the Friday night card, with post time set for 9:02 p.m.

Sam Houston Race Park conditioner, Janet Van Bebber, who has won five training titles at the northwest Houston racetrack, will saddle Snowy Alibi in Saturday night’s $114,400 Sam Houston Derby. A standout as a 2-year-old, Snowy Alibi captured both the TQHA Sale Futurity and 2006 Sam Houston Futurity for owner D D Lightsey. Voted 2006 Sam Houston Race Park Horse of the Meeting, Snowy Alibi will break from the far outside post under rider Alfonso Lujan on Saturday.

“This horse seems to like running on the outside,” said Van Bebber of Snowy Alibi, who was installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite. “He ran a good race in the trials and came out of that race very well. My First Passion will be a formidable foe, but Snowy Alibi loves this racing surface, so we’ll hope for a good effort this weekend.”

My First Passion, trained by Taylor, was the fastest qualifier and ran third in the 2006 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs. Taylor has named J. R. Ramirez to ride the California-bred son of First Down Dash for owner Jose Cantu.

Owner, Trainer and Jockey Titles to be Decided on Saturday

The 2007 American Quarter Horse Meeting will come to an end on Saturday and the race for leading rider of the meet could go down to the final race! Arturo Puga, Russel Hadley and Rodrigo Vallejo are in a competitive battle for top honors. It would be the first Sam Houston Race Park title for each of the three jockeys who have had their share of highlights and stakes wins since the season began on June 29. Puga, 18, was the leading rider in the 2007 Retama Park meeting and made a solid team with trainer Bobby Touchet this season. Puga’s mentor, Vallejo, 41, also from Jalisco, Mexico, has ridden first call for trainer Judd Kearl and is the only rider in the history of Sam Houston Race Park to win the Sam Houston Futurity (G1) three times. Hadley, 25, had shipped in for stakes here in the past, but remained in Houston for the entire meeting and has been successful for a number of trainers including Jesse Yoakum and Heath Taylor.

Judd Kearl, who was the top Sam Houston Race Park trainer in 2006, is poised to clinch his second training title here. He leads Janet Van Bebber by 9 wins with Heath Taylor and Bobby Touchet tied for third in the standings heading into the final weekend of racing.

"I owe a lot of credit to (assistant trainer) Melinda Garcia and our crew," said Kearl.

Owner A. D. Maddox of Houston, Texas is the leader in wins with 7 victories and could win his second leading owner title as he captured the top honor in the 2005 American Quarter Horse Meeting. Bernardine and Gordon Haslam are second in the standings as their intrepid Texas-bred Wassup T Doc has won each of his five starts at Sam Houston Race Park.

John Buchanan Wins All American Derby with Dont Let Down

Dont Let Down, a son of Stoli, trained by John Buchanan and ridden by Juan Vazquez, won the $504,692 All American Derby (G1) at Ruidoso Downs on Sunday, September 2. Owned by Bobby D. Cox of Fort Worth, Don’t Let Down was the second fastest qualifier and earned $252,346 for the win.

This was the second All American Derby win for Buchanan, who has been one of the leading trainers at Sam Houston Race Park. His homebred, champion Brimmerton, won the race in 2004. With the victory in the All American Derby, Don’t Let Down earned a berth in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions in December at Los Alamitos.

Simulcast Action at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park is open for simulcasting daily with action from tracks across the country.

The New York circuit shifts to Belmont Park and Saturday’s action will be highlighted by the running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Man o’ War and the $300,000 Ruffian Handicap for fillies and mares.

Admission to Sam Houston Race Park is only $4 for adults, $2 for Senior Citizens and children 12 and under are admitted free. For a complete listing of the simulcast schedule, call 281-807-8740 or visit

John Jacinto Wins the 1,000th Race of His Career

Thoroughbred jockey John Jacinto, who was leading rider at Sam Houston Race Park in 2002, won his 1,000th career race on Monday, September 3 at Louisiana Downs. Jacinto guided Superior Storm ($7.40), a 2-year-old filly to victory in the opener on the Labor Day card.

Born in Lima, Peru, Jacinto came to the United States in 1999, making his debut at Calder Race Course. He has had success not only on the Texas circuit, but in Louisiana, Kentucky and Arkansas. In addition to his Sam Houston Race Park title, he won leading rider honors at Louisiana Downs in 2005 and Oaklawn Park in 2006.

September VIP Specials at Sam Houston Race Park

VIP Club members receive perks, rewards and incentives every month at Sam Houston Race Park. There are plenty of promotions for the month of September including:

  • Monday: Double Reward Points on all Dog Wagers
  • Wednesday: Free Greyhound Stat Attack Tip Sheet
  • Thursday: $100 Showvivor Handicapping Contest – 1:00 p.m. Deadline
  • Saturday: $100 Road to the Breeders’ Cup Handicapping Contest
  • Sunday: $1 Draft Beer During the Houston Texan games

To become a VIP Club member, visit the Players Lounge located at the North end of the Grandstand on the Paddock Level. For more information about the benefits of the VIP Club stop by the Players Lounge or call 281-807-8278.

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