Down For A Fortune Takes Sam Houston Maiden Challenge

Kentucky Derby Day card also featured Adequan Derby Challenge trials.

May 4, 2013

Mother Nature was not kind to Louisville, Kentucky, but Houston racing fans enjoyed a gorgeous sunny day with 10 live American Quarter Horse races and plenty of festivities in honor of the 139th Kentucky Derby.

The feature race of the Saturday afternoon card was the $42,873 Bank of America Sam Houston Maiden Challenge, and Down For A Fortune gave a career-best effort to win his second consecutive race after notching his first victory in the trials. The card also featured the $15,000 Texas Twister Stakes (R) and trials for the Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge.

Owned and bred by Pete A. Scarmardo of Caldwell, Texas, the 3-year-old Down N Dash filly won the Maiden Challenge in commanding fashion. She was the third-fastest qualifier in trials run on April 19. Luis Ramirez guided his filly from post position six to the wire of the 350-yard final in :17.963. A minor equipment adjustment has been the key to her improved performance, according to trainer Guy Hopkins.

“The first time we ran her, she ran out to the lead and then look like she got lost,” said Hopkins. “My little brother, Jay, was so smart. He recognized her blinkers might have been too big. We put a smaller set of blinkers on, and she’s won two in a row.”

Scarmardo was in Kentucky for the Derby, so his son Craig and daughter-in-law Ashley accepted the blanket.

“My dad enjoys breeding these horses and we’re glad I could get a win for him while he is out of town,” said his son.

Fastest qualifier Lets Get Silk ran second under rider Ricardo Aguirre. The daughter of Mr Jess Berry is owned by Silvia Robles and trained by Abel Morin.

Longshot Fool Of Nuts was third, and Flashfire At Six rallied from the far outside post to complete the superfecta.

Hopkins indicated that Down For A Fortune will make her next start at Retama Park. She returned $18.80 for the win as she earned $19,722, the biggest check in her nine lifetime starts.

Tejas Energy B Fastest Qualifier in Trials for the Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge
Four trials were run on Saturday afternoon for the $35,000-added Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge. The fourth trial produced the fastest time as Tejas Master Jess dominated his rivals by over three lengths, covering 400 yards in :19.817. The 3-year-old Tres Seis colt is owned by Antonio Delgado Jr.

Luis Vivanco rode the sorrel for trainer Manuel Vega Jr. He paid $7.00 for the win, earning a speed index of 98. Dash Master Jess won the first trial in :19.992 to record the second-fastest qualifying time.

The final of the Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge will take place on Saturday, May 18. For a complete list of the top 10 qualifiers, CLICK HERE.

Royal Sin Tacha Blazes to the Wire in the Texas Twister
The $15,000 Texas Twister (R), at 110 yards, returned for its fifth renewal at Sam Houston. The field of 10 speedsters included defending Texas Twister champion The Hot List, who set a new track record of :6.736 last year.

This year, the trophy went to Royal Sin Tacha, a 5-year-old son of Ocean Runaway making his first trip to the winner’s circle since August 2011. Bred in Texas by Janet VanBebber and Jerry Gaston, the bay gelding pulled the upset at odds of 19-1, rewarding his supporters with a win payout of $41.80. Cipriano Vidana had the riding assignment, covering 110 yards in :6.936 over a fast track.

“It’s been a while; we had to turn him out, but he came back good,” said trainer Jorge E. Lopez. “I won my first official start here one year ago, so I am pretty excited.”

Owner Erick Montes was very proud of the comeback effort of his runner.

“After giving him time off, he came out with a great outcome,” said Montes. “Hopefully we can win another stake, possibly at Delta Downs.”

SS Poker Face Dream was second by a neck, followed by The Hot List and Tinker Lilly.