Jess Good Wine
Jess Good Wine Sets the Fastest Qualifying Time in Trials for the $209,200 Sam Houston Derby on Saturday, April 29

(Houston, Texas - Saturday, April 29, 2023) - Seven 350-yard trials for the $209,200 Sam Houston Derby (G3) were contested Saturday evening over a fast track surface. 

 Jess Good Wine broke from the far outside post under Bryan Candanosa in the second trial and set the fastest time of the evening of :17:323 seconds, aided by a 12 mph tailwind, equaling a speed index of 110. Owned by Guns Up Racing, the Oklahoma-bred son of Jess Good Reason Sa out of the Mr. Jess Perry mare Mr. Perrys Wine, began his career at Sam Houston Race Park last year, before shipping to Ruidoso Downs. Cindi Keeton, Toby’s wife, and an excellent horsewoman, ran the Keeton barn in Houston while Toby set up his string in New Mexico. 

 "Cindi had him here last year and he ran second in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge," said Keeton. "We gelded him at Ruidoso Downs and he qualified for the Challenge there but got hurt in the final. He took the rest of the year off, but I knew he was ready for this race. He had a nice work (on April 13) and ran so good tonight; he made my hair stand up!" 

 Jess Good Wine ($4.80) improved his career record to two wins and two seconds from six starts with earnings of $41,197. Keeton has won two previous editions of the Sam Houston Derby: last year with Adam Smith's homebred Special Apollitical and in 2000 with Bens Coasting for owner Ernesto Guerra, Jr. 

 The second clocking of the evening went Lil Perry Wagon, who ran second to Jess Good Wine in :17.629 seconds under rider Francisco Mendez. The gelding by Lil Kool Wagon is trained by Frank Mendez for owner Ubaldo Fuentes, Jr. 

Heavy favorite Delight Interest ($2.40), a gelded son of Separate Interest, set the fourth-fastest clocking of :17.638 seconds in the final trial under jockey Juan Pulido. This was his first start at Sam Houston after a game victory in the $144,000 West Texas Derby (G3) at Sunland Park on February 25. Juan Diaz Jr. trains for owner Triple Five. 

 The top ten qualifiers will compete in the final on Friday, May 19 with the winner picking up a check for $83,680. Below is a complete list of Sam Houston Derby (G3) qualifiers, times, sires, dams, owners, breeders, trainers, and jockeys:

Horse Time Jockey Trainer
 Jess Good Wine  :17.323  Bryan Candanosa  Toby Keeton
 Lil Perry Wagon  :17.629  Francisco A. Mendez  Frank Mendez
 Apollitical Dynamite   :17.635  Ali Rivera  Alvin Francis, Jr.
 Delight Interest  :17.638  Juan Pulido  Juan Diaz, Jr.
 Daddy Caliente  :17.665  Claudio Ponce Aguilar  Brian Stroud
 Tdz Jambalaya Wave  :17.721  Luis L. Vivanco  Juan A. Hernandez
 Tic It To The Dance  :17.734  Raul Ramirez, Jr.  Oscar Constancio, Jr.
 Passage Of A Woman  :17.772  Francisco Giles  Martin Rodriguez
 Sygnyfycant Impact  :17.772  Claudio Ponce Aguilar  Raul E. Galvan
 Eagle Powers  :17.795  Ali Rivera  Alvin Francis, Jr.

 Kentucky Derby Festivities Set for Saturday, May 6 at Sam Houston Race Park 

 Sam Houston Race Park will open early on Saturday, May 6 for a big day of live racing and the simulcast of the 149th Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs. Gates will open at 8:00 a.m., and the 12-race live Quarter Horse program begins at 10:30 a.m. All reserved seats, winner circle, and suite level are sold out, but fans are welcome to enjoy the grandstand and track apron area throughout the day. Admission is just $5.00 after 9:30 a.m. We will host our popular Kentucky Derby Hat Contest; registration is from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The winner will receive $500; second place wins dinner for four in the Winner Circle, and third place gets  dinner for two in the Winner Circle.     

In addition, celebrate Cinco de Mayo along with the Pre-Derby Party on Friday, May 5th. Fiesta-themed buffets will be featured in the Winner Circle, and advanced wagering on the Kentucky Derby throughout the day. Admission is just $5.00. For more information, visit

by Martha Claussen 

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