Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse Meet Kicks Off on Friday, March 31

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March 29th, 2017

 The 2017 American Quarter Horse racing season at Sam Houston Race Park gets
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Jrc Callas First makes his 2017 debut Friday night at Sam Houston Race Park

underway on Friday, March 31.

Opening night will feature nine races, including the $20,000 Miss Houston Stakes and the $20,000 Harris County Stakes. 2014 AQHA world champion, Jrc Callas First, a true “horse for the course” at Sam Houston, will headline the field in the 550-yard Harris County Stakes.

Two trials for the Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship will also be run Friday evening, with reigning AQHA world champion, Jessies First Down competing in the first trial.  Trained by Judd Kearl, the son of Fdd Dynasty will be ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo.  He was the fastest qualifier in last year’s edition of the Bank of America Texas Challenge, beaten in the final by Jrc Callas First.  The ten fastest qualifiers, from the two trials on Friday evening, will return to action on Saturday, April 22.  The winner will represent Texas in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) in October at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.
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Luis Vivanco and Rodrigo Vallejo tied as leading riders last year at Sam Houston Race Park

A total of 13 stakes will be run during the meet, which concludes on May 22, In addition to the Bank of America Challenge races, Sam Houston showcases rising stars in the  $500,000. Sam Houston Futurity (G2) and the $200,000 Sam Houston Derby (G3) will feature an excellent field of 3-year-olds. Both will take place on April 29.

In addition to 2016 AQHA Champion trainer Judd Kearl, other horsemen to watch include Leon Bard, Brian Stroud, Jose Sanchez, James Gerhards and Kie Mushinski.

Last year’s leading jockey title ended in a tie between Luis Vivanco and Rodrigo Vallejo.  They will return, along with Jerry Lee Yoakum, Francisco Calderon, Cipriano Vidana and Eddie Sanchez. For the first few weeks, David Alvarez, Damian Martinez and Alfonso Lujan will have mounts, but they will ride full time at Delta Downs when that meet begins on April 21.