Horse-For-Course Ivan James Headlines Grade 3 Sam Houston Derby

Saturday’s rich night of racing includes the Grade 2, $540,000 Sam Houston Futurity

Q-Racing Journal and edited press release

Ivan James, last year's horse of the meet, is the morning-line favorite for Saturday's $191,000 Sam Houston Derby. PHOTO: Coady Photography

Jorge Meraz’s Ivan James will put his perfect record at Sam Houston Race Park on the line in Saturday’s 350-yard, $191,000 Sam Houston Derby.

A homebred son of Ivory James trained by Angel Sanchez, Ivan James has won all three of his outs at Sam Houston, including last year’s 330-yard, $621,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2), and he was the 2015 horse of the meet. The colt drew post 7 and will be ridden by Luis Vivanco.

"Ivan ran very well in his trial and pulled up good," said Sanchez. "He drew a good post and we like his chances."

Ivan James’ nine opponents include Sissy Cartel, a bay filly by The Louisiana Cartel trained by Yasmine Fierro for owner Anahi Martinez. Sissy Cartel is coming off of a 2-year-old campaign in which she earned $112,001 from just five outs, and her resume included a second-place finish to Cartels Pop Pop in the 350-yard, $414,000 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG2) at Retama Park.

Sissy Cartel drew post 8 and will be ridden by Ignacio Bustamante.

The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments:
TLC Dale (Manuel Gutierrez)
Jess Blue Intriguing (Rodrigo Vallejo)
Real Solid Oak (Esgar Ramirez)
My Moment Of Fame (Luis Ramirez)
Swifter Deal (Jose Amador Alvarez)
Telleritstime (Noe Villatoro)
Ivan James (Luis Vivanco)
Sissy Cartel (Ignacio Bustamante)
Dash Dont Cheat (Francisco Calderon)
GYR Jammer (Pedro Espinosa)

Sam Houston Futurity
A full field of 10 juveniles has been entered back in Saturday’s 330-yard, $540,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2).

Ramon Cano’s Je And Thee, the fastest qualifier and a Texas-bred colt by The Louisiana Cartel, made his debut with a convincing 1 1/2-length win in the third of 17 trials on April 2. He was purchased privately by his owner and his trained by Joel Cantu, 29, who has been training for just one year.

“He really surprised us,” said Cantu of Je And Thee’s trial win. “We only had him for five weeks, and we were not expecting a race like this.

“He was amazing,” added the trainer. “The owner really liked the progeny of The Louisiana Cartel and purchased this colt as a weanling.”

Jose Alvarez, who worked Je And Thee on April 14, will ride the colt in the Sam Houston Futurity final. Alvarez is the younger brother of David Alvarez, who had another commitment on Saturday.

“Jose and I talked after the work, and we are looking forward to a great final," said Cantu. "He drew between two horses that break well; our horse is ready."

It would be the first graded stakes win for both Cantu and owner Cano, who have turned down four offers for their colt since the trials.

Jorge Haddad will be cheering loudly for Je and Thee. Haddad stands The Louisiana Cartel, a leading second crop sire of 2016, on his ranch in Seguin Texas.

"We are really excited," said Haddad. "His trial win was so good. It was not just the break; once he got rolling, he found another gear. He really surprised me."

Another contender, Esmeralda Peck’s Midnight Heat, recorded the second-fastest qualifying time. The son of Corona Cartel, a $100,000 purchase at last year’s Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, is trained by Patrick Clemons.

A resident of Nixon, Texas, Clemons will also send out 10th-fastest qualifier DF Dashing Champ for Ms. Peck.

"They both came out of their trials fine," said Clemons. "We've ponied them to the track twice, and now we're just waiting for the final."

The winner of the Sam Houston Futurity will earn $216,000. The complete lineup, in post position order including jockey assignments:

DF Dashing Champ (Luciano Duenez)
Je And Thee (Jose Amador Alvarez)
Midnight Heat (Luis Vivanco)
Dashing Tempest (F.R. Ramirez Jr.)
Desdemona Rambler (Claudio Aguilar)
Shakeemwhileyoucan (Rodrigo Vallejo)
Hez Gone (Cipriano Vidana)
El Carretonero G 3 (Esgar Ramirez)
Graceful Eagle (Modesto Pina)
Just Call Me Carter (Francisco Calderon)

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