Sam Houston Race Park Honors its Spring Meet Champions

This Is An Eagle earns horse of the meet honors.

Edited press release

Sam Houston Futurity winner This Is An Eagle was named horse of the meet during the Sam Houston Race Park spring season. PHOTO: Coady Photography

Mary G. Lynne Thompson's This Is An Eagle, a 2-year-old son of One Famous Eagle and the $100,000 sale-topper at last year's TQHA Yearling Sale, was horse of the meet at Sam Houston Race Park, which concluded its spring Quarter Horse season on Monday.

This Is An Eagle won both of his outs during the meet, including the season's richest race, the 330-yard, $483,600 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) on April 8. The colt was bred in Texas by Pete Scarmardo.

"We wouldn’t have sold him for less (than $100,000)," said Scarmardo. "That was the mark, and Mary Lynne was gracious enough to step up. She bought a nice colt, and I wish her the very best with him and look forward to watching him run at Ruidoso."

"He’s just an exceptional horse," said Leon Bard, who trains This Is An Eagle. "Pete and I are close friends, and I knew right off the bat that this colt would be special. I am happy for Pete, and of course, for Mary Lynne, who has been a very loyal owner for many years."

Bard reported that This Is An Eagle is already stabled at Ruidoso Downs and will make his next start in trials for the Rainbow Futurity (G1), July 7 and 8.

"He kind of floats across the ground," added Bard. "He’s paid into the All American Futurity as well. Provided everything goes well, he’ll come back to Texas for the Texas Classic Futurity at Lone Star Park."

Several Sam Houston Futurity winners have gone on to have success at Ruidoso Downs, including Especially Tres and Kiss My Hocks, the horses of the Sam Houston meet in 2013 and '14, respectively. Especially Tres was the fastest qualifier to the All American Futurity, and Kiss My Hocks won the 2014 Ruidoso Futurity (G1) and was named that year's AQHA champion colt.

"We congratulate owner Mary Lynne Thompson and trainer Leon Bard for the top performance of this talented 2-year-old," said Sam Houston Race Park racing secretary Matt Crawford. "He was undefeated this meet, winning the richest event of our season. We all look forward to watching his progress at Ruidoso Downs and throughout 2017."

Leading Trainrer: Judd Kearl
Judd Kearl, the reigning AQHA champion trainer, won his eighth champion training title at Sam Houston Race Park.

Kearl, 42, is a native of Tremonton, Utah, and he got his start on the Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming racing circuits. He moved to Texas in 2004 and resides in Spring, just ten minutes away from Sam Houston Race Park. He operates a farm and training center in New Waverly, Texas. His first leading trainer title at Sam Houston Race Park came in 2006.

Kearl's stakes winners this meet included Jessies First Down, who won the $103,320 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G2); Gustafame, winner of the $55,260 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge (G3); and So Rapido, winner of the $197,700 Sam Houston Derby (G3).

Kearl won 30 races from 156 starters, and his runners earned $449,693. Kearl will be prominent in the upcoming season at Ruidoso Downs, and he will also run horses at Retama Park and Lone Star Park.

"We've had another great meet," said Kearl. "I have really good owners and excellent help; I can't thank them enough. (Assistant trainer) Jimmy Padgett has done a really good job since he's moved down here, and Alonso Hernandez is part of our team, handling the horses at Delta and Retama."

Kearl said that Jessies First Down's next start will likely be in the 440-yard, $250,000 Remington Park Invitational Championship (G1) on June 3.

"Jessies First Down is a super horse," Kearl added. "Two years in a row, he was fastest qualifier and we couldn’t get the job done. The year, when he was the third-fastest, I told Ted maybe the third year would be the charm. He not only won; he set a new track record. Jessie has been a dream horse for us."

Leading Jockey: Rodrigo Vallejo
Rodrigo Vallejo won the Sam Houston Race Park jockey title with 28 wins and mount earnings of $371,984.

A native of Jalisco, Mexico, Vallejo has won five riding titles at the track. He rode all of Kearl's stakes winners during the 2017 season.

"I am grateful to Judd, who is an amazing trainer and great friend," said Vallejo. "To ride the world champion is amazing, and Gustafame showed so much in his two wins this meet as well. I am looking forward to riding them and So Rapido in their next starts."

Leading Owner: A.D. Maddox
A.D. Maddox of Houston was Sam Houston Race Park's leading owner for the fifth time, as his horses won eight races from 27 starts.

Maddox's trainer, James Gerhards, accepted his trophy. Gerhards has trained for Maddox for nearly 20 years and acknowledged his support of Texas racing.

"He has been a great owner and remains loyal to Texas breeding and racing," said Gerhards.

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