Sam Houston Race Park Honors its Meet Champions

Positive Handle Numbers Recorded on Opening Night and for Sam Houston Futurity Trials

Edited press release

Francisco Calderon was the leading jockey during the 20-date Sam Houston Race Park American Quarter Horse meet, which ended May 12. PHOTO: Coady Photography

The 20-date Sam Houston Race Park American Quarter Horse Meet ended on May 12, a program highlighted by 10 races and the presentation of the track's end-of-season awards

Track officials were pleased with several positive trends in handle throughout the meet.  The average per-race handle was up 7 percent over 2017, and two of the highest Quarter Horse handle totals since the track opened in 1994 were set. On opening night, March 30, Sam Houston Race Park handled $970,000.  Also, a total of 13 trials for the Sam Houston Futurity were contested on Friday, April 7, and fans here and at simulcast facilities wagered a total of $930,000 on the card. 

“We are certainly appreciative to our horsemen and bettors, both locally and across the country who continue to get behind our Quarter Horse racing product,” said Sam Houston Race Park senior director of racing Frank Hopf. “This year in particular, we received strong support from Los Alamitos, which helped drive our handle.”

With three victories on the final night of the meet, Francisco Calderon made the most of his 2018 Sam Houston Race Park season, topping his fellow riders with 23 wins.

This is the first Sam Houston leading jockey honor for the 24-year-old, who was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and began riding in 2012. He was second to Rodrigo Vallejo last year, but with multiple victories for trainer Leon Bard, and many other horsemen, he was able to secure his first Sam Houston title.  Calderon won two previous leading rider titles in Texas, finishing on top at Lone Star Park in 2016 and last summer at Retama Park.

Eddie Sanchez and Claudio Ponce Aguilar tied for second with 13 wins and Jose Ivan Martinez won 11 races to round out the top four.

Calderon and his wife, Valerie, welcomed their first child last August, a daughter named Viridiana. Calderon will head to Retama Park and will also make several trips this summer to Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico. 

Trainer Leon Bard, who was second in the standing last year, won two races on closing night to tie James Padgett II for the Sam Houston Race Park training title. 

Bard completed the season with a record of 14 winners from 73 starts, with 16 second-place and 9 third-place finishes. His runners earned $116,485.  He won the 550-yard Harris County Stakes with Southern Temptation on March 31. Ricardo Aguirre served as Bard’s assistant.

Padgett’s stats for the meet were 76 starts, 14 wins, 11 seconds, 13 thirds and earnings of $149,507. While he did not have a stakes winner this season, Rc Me Leaving You and Flyingforunclesam finished second and third, respectively, in the $67,680 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G2) on April 21. Flyingforunclesam returned to action on May 12 and was the runner-up in the Sam Houston Classic (G2). Padgett was based at Remington Park this Spring and relied on assistant Alonso Hernandez to oversee the Sam Houston Race Park runners.

Saul Ramirez, Jr. was third with 11 wins. Abelardo Flores Jr. topped all trainers with six stakes wins during the meet.

Ricardo Barrera of Odessa, Texas, led all owners with 6 wins to capture his first leading owner title at Sam Houston Race Park. Barrera, who has been involved in racing since 2016, won with such to performers as Austonian, who won twice this season; the stakes-placed filly One Sweet Picky and Tempting Pink. His horses were trained by Rodolfo Sanchez.

Ruben Garcia Montemayor was second in the owner standings with five wins, including stakes victories by Eye N Capo and Three Bar Cartel on the final night of the meet. His horses were conditioned by Abelardo Flores, Jr. Pamela S. Stone, whose horses were trained by Leon Bard, finished third with four wins. 

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