Sam Houston Recap

Sam Houston Recap

The track ended its spring Quarter Horse meet on June 18.

Ali Rivera (third from left). PHOTO: Coady Photography

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The 25-date Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse meet ended on Saturday, June 18, with the running of six Texas-bred stakes and the presentation of the end of the meet awards for leading jockey, trainer and owner. 
 
Ali Rivera Notches His First Leading Jockey Title
Ali Rivera, 20, held off two talented veteran riders to claim his first leading jockey title. A graduate of Elgin High School who began riding two years ago, won 32 races from 163 mounts. He won three stakes, including the Texas Twister and Sam Houston 250 (R) stakes with El Tartanero Jess.
 
He thanked his father, Eleazar Rivera, who is also a jockey, and his agent, Aubrey Vega.
 
“I want to thank God and many people who have helped me with this accomplishment,” said Rivera. “My father has been my mentor, and I also am grateful to trainer Angel Sanchez, who gave me my first mount. I am lucky that so many horsemen have given me opportunities to ride their amazing horses.”
 
Rivera, who was surrounded by his family and members of the jockey colony as he received his award, will ride next at Retama Park, in Selma, Texas.
 
Last year’s top jockey, Victor Urieta, Jr., topped all Sam Houston riders in mount earnings at $789,352.
 
Juan Diaz Jr. Repeats as Leading Trainer 
Juan Diaz Jr. led all Sam Houston trainers with 25 wins from 97 starters and starter earnings of $772,668 in purses. His highlights included his second victory in the June 4, $649,710  Sam Houston Futurity (G2) with fastest qualifier Bye Corona Bye. Diaz also won the $130,713 John Deere Juvenile Challenge (G3) for the second consecutive year, and he will send Red Sea Racing Stables LLC’s Apollitical Dynamite to Horseshoe Indianapolis for the Grade 2 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship on October 22.
 
“I have great owners and a very hard-working team,” said Diaz. “We had success with our 2-year-olds once again this season, and were proud to have won the Sam Houston Futurity for a second year in a row.”
 
Toby Keeton and Raul Galvan tied for second in the standings with 11 wins each. 
 
Carlos Ponce Picks Up His First Leading Owner Title
Carlos Ponce was Sam Houston's leading owner with eight wins and purse earnings of $370,862. His wins included the Sam Houston Futurity with Bye Corona Bye, who he purchased for $22,000 at last year's Texas QHA Yearling Sale. 
 
Pete Scarmardo finished second with five wins, including with His Time to Deal in the June 18, $108,000 Willie Hickman Memorial Stakes (R) and Hes Jess Dealin in the June 16, $91,163 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge.
 
Handle Figures Positive for the 2022 Quarter Horse Live Racing Season
Officials were pleased with positive trends throughout the 25-day meet, including total handle exceeding $15.5 million. Handle for the 2021 Quarter Horse season was  $15.3 million with 23 scheduled days. 
 
“We are certainly appreciative to our horsemen and horseplayers, both locally and across the country, who continue to support our Quarter Horse racing product,” said Sam Houston Race Park assistant general manager Frank Hopf.
 

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