The First Two Stakes of the 2024 Thoroughbred Meet Will be Contested on Saturday, January 6
HOUSTON, TX- Sam Houston Race Park will usher in the New Year with live Thoroughbred racing, events, dining and family-friendly activities. Opening night features eight races with a 6:30 pm(Central) first post and a performance after the races by Houston’s Southern County Line.
The weekend action continues on Saturday, January 6 at 1:00 pm with the first two stakes of the 2024 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred season, the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter and $75,000 My Dandy, at 5 ½ furlongs on the main track, are part of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series (TSSS), a set of races for progeny of nominated Texas-based stallions. The series, run at Sam Houston Race Park and Lone Star Park, honors notable Texas Thoroughbred fillies and colts and geldings.
The 43-day Thoroughbred meet concludes onSaturday, April 7. A full schedule of post times, special holiday racing, dining and events is posted on shrp.com.
Too Much Kiki Goes for Third Lifetime Win in the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter
Seven fillies will enter the starting gate in the first stakes of the season, the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter.The morning-line favorite is Too Much Kiki, a daughter of Too Much Bling out of the Action This Day mare, Soft Music. Bred by Danele Durham and owned by Mansfield Racing, she has won two of her three starts, beginning with a three-length score in the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes- Pan Zareta Division last June at Lone Star Park.
“She’s a big filly and had enough class and ability to get it done at first asking,” trainer Bret Calhoun said of her debut. “Her win at Delta (Downs) last month was a good prep for this.”
Too Much Kiki (6-5) will be ridden by Fernando Jara and Calhoun’s other entrant, Successfulpath, will have Jose Alvarez in the saddle. Longtime supporters of Texas racing, Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsh bred the Too Much Bling filly, who makes her stakes debut on Saturday.
“She broke her maiden impressively even though she was not 100% ready,” stated Calhoun. “I was hoping to get a race for her at Remington Park but do believe she is well-prepared for this.”
Trainer J. R. Caldwell, who is ten wins away from his 1,000th career win, will saddle two fillies: Flying First Class and Divertida.
The Idaho-native looks for improved efforts from both fillies but cannot wait for Friday’s card which includes a stakes-caliber one-mile turf allowance running as the seventh race. He will saddle Triple B. Racing LLC’s Singapore Flash who defeated the venerable turf champion Sunlit Song last July in the Assault Stakes at Lone Star Park.
“Make sure fans know that opening night will include a rematch between Sunlit Song and Singapore Flash,” said Caldwell. “I have so much respect for that horse and the amazing job (trainer) Mindy Willis has done with him.”
Highlander Training Center’s High Tone Woman debuts for young trainer Jayde Gelner and will be ridden by three-time leading Sam Houston jockey Stewart Elliott. The daughter of Bradester was bred by Douglas Scharbauer.
The Darby’s Daughter will run as race six, with an approximate post time of 3:30 pm. The field from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds: Divertida, Rene Diaz, 30-1; Successfulpath, Jose Alvarez, 6-1; Too Much Dreaming, Floyd Wethey, Jr. 9-2; Too Much Kiki, Fernando Jara, 6-5; High Tone Woman, Stewart Elliott, 3-1; Flying First Class, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez, 20-1 and Special Note, Lindey Wade, 8-1.
The stakes is named in honor of Darby’s Daughterwho made her racing debut in 1988, winning two stakes at Louisiana Downs, the Grade 2, Miss Grillo at Aqueduct and the San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar. She retired with an impressive record of five wins from 15 starts and earnings of $435,104.
Wide Open Field Entered in in the $75,000 My Dandy
An excellent group of 3-year-old colts and geldings will compete in the $75,000 My Dandy, also at 5 ½ furlongs on the main track.
Caldwell has a solid chance with Unbridled Bling, who has been installed as the 9-5 morning-line choice for breeder and owner Eric Schmitz. The colt, out of Here’s The Deal by Half Ours, made three starts at Remington Park and will be ridden by Rene Diaz.
“This colt had a late start and as a result, had a lackluster first out,” explained Caldwell. “The next month, he drew off by five lengths and ran a solid fourth in open company in his most recent race (on November 17). He’s coming into this stakes in good shape. Rene had a fantastic meet for us at Lone Star Park.”
Last year, conditioner Carlos Padilla won the Darby’s Daughter with longshot Stelliot’s Legacy. He hopes for a good effort from Kenneth E. Sykes’ Foo Fighter, a gelded son of Sky Flight, who will make his stakes debut off three starts at Remington Park.
“This is a massive horse; 17 hands tall, who won an open company mile maiden special weight (on November 23),” said Padilla. “He mentally improved in that race, which should help with the shorter distance.”
Macassar Corporation’s Marfa Sky was victorious in the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes- Staunch Avenger Division last June at Lone Star Park for trainer Scott Young. The colt by Bradester has not run since July but posted three works at Delta in preparation for his third stakes race. Floyd Wethey, Jr. has the call.
The field for the My Dandy, which runs as the eighth race, from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds: Marfa Sky, Floyd Wethey,Jr., 4-1; Silent Bling, Stewart Elliott, 9-2; Foo Fighter, Isaiah Wiseman, 3-1; Unbridled Bling, Rene Diaz, 9-5; Hezakoolcat, Fernando Jara, 20-1; Ozzies Wings, Fernando Jara, 6-1 and Bandera Bling, Lindey Wade, 15-1.
My Dandy was a 1925 Texas-bred foal who boasted a lifetime record of 191 starts with 47 wins and earnings of $137,923. A true “iron horse”, he ran from 1927 to 1935 and in 1930 made 43 starts in a single year.
Jockey Gerardo Mora Three Wins Away from his 1,000th Milestone
Opening weekend at Sam Houston Race Park could be especially rewarding for jockey Gerardo Mora, who is just three victories away from his 1,000thcareer win. His history is notable as he rode as an apprentice in 2011and in 2013 topped veteran rider Glen Murphy for his first of two leading rider titles.
Mora, 27, grew up in Palestine, Texas, and has piloted 8,221 Thoroughbreds in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Injuries slowed his momentum from 2019-2021, but he had the best year of his career in 2022, when he won 128 races and earnings of $2.8 million. He finished tenth in the Sam Houston standings with 19 wins and made 22 trips to the winner’s circle last year. He won $75,000 Darby’s Daughter last January aboard first time starter, Stelliot’s Legacy ($22), for trainer Carlos Padilla. His previous stakes scores included a victory aboard Platinum Song in the 2013 Bara Lass for conditioner Danny Pish.
“I am looking forward to the meet,” said Mora. “The surfaces at Sam Houston are very good and winning 1,000 races will mean a lot to me and my family.”
Racehorse Ownership Seminar Set for Saturday, January 6
The Texas Thoroughbred Association is continuing its campaign to educate and recruit new racehorse owners and breeders in Texas during the Sam Houston Race Park race meet. Since 2022, the TTA campaign has brought 68 new Texas racehorse owners into the game. The first 2024 new owner preview event will be held during Sam Houston’s opening weekend races on Saturday, January 6, 1:00 pm post time. Be a guest in a suite during the races and receive complimentary admission, suite seating, hors d’oeuvres, soft drinks, racing program and in-suite wagering. A cash bar is available. Attendance is limited and available first come. Advance registration is required at TxRaceHorse.com
Nominations for the Houston Racing Festival Close on Saturday, January 13
The Houston Racing Festival, with five stakes races offering over $700,000 in purses, will take place onSaturday, January 27- 1:00 pm (Central) post time. The Grade 3, $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic, now in its twelfth running, anchors the Houston Racing Festival, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile, $75,000 Bara Lass and $75,000 Gexa Groovy Stakes. Contact stakes coordinator Greg Thompson at 469-394-6330, to nominate to the Houston Racing Festival.
Houston Racing Festival -NHC Contest
Sam Houston Race Park will once again host a $1,000 Bankroll Live Money Contest with two
NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Seats Awarded to the prestigious final in Las Vegas – Your Choice 2024 or 2025.
Contest Races Will Consist of All SHRP Races Plus the Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational, the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational and the Pegasus World Cup Invitational.
Maximum of 100 Entries – Limit Two Entries per Person
Click Here for Summary of Rules and Official Rules
Click Here for On-line Registration Form
Click Here for Mail-in Registration Form
Send any Questions or Comments to Mike Steindler
About Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles northwest of downtown Houston. Owned by Penn Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ – PENN), the racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions for businesses, group outings and families during racing and the off-season. The track is best known for its award-winning dining and features multiple areas for fans looking for casual to upscale dining options including its Winner’s Circle Restaurant, Jockey Club, Luxury Suites and Pavilion Centre. For more information or tickets to upcoming live racing, shows and events, please visit www.shrp.com or follow on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or YouTube.