Bank of America Sam Houston Challenge Trials Draw 23

JRC Callas First, the 2014 world champion, races in the third of three heats on Friday.

Q-Racing Journal

JRC Callas First, pictured here winning last year's $150,000 Zia Park Championship, is one of 23 aged runners entered in Friday's Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge trials. PHOTO: Coady Photography

A total of 23 aged sprinters, including 2014 world champion JRC Callas First, has been entered in Friday's 440-yard Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge (G2) trials at Sam Houston Race Park.

The 10 fastest qualifiers will meet in the $95,000-added final on April 16.

A 6-year-old son of Winners Award racing for Brian and Dana Stroud, JRC Callas First is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the third heat. The gelding will be making his first start since January 3, when he ran second, a neck behind winner Zoomin Effortlessly, in the 400-yard, $350,000 Championship at Sunland Park (G1).

JRC Callas First ended his 2015 campaign with a five-race win streak that included the Grade 1, 440-yard Zia Park Championship on November 25. Ricardo Aguirre will ride the gelding on Friday.

Other prominent runners entered in the trials include Jose F. Hernandez's Stimulus, the winner of the 2014 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) at Prairie Meadows and the 2-1 morning-line choice in the second heat; D & S Racing's Exquisite Stride, the winner of last year's 400-yard, $145,000 Evangeline Downs Derby in Louisiana; and RC Me Leaving You, a Grade 1-placed 4-year-old who ran third in the January 17, 440-yard Hialeah Maturity and last year's 440-yard, $416,000 Texas Classic Derby (G1) for his owners, Bennie and Teresa Jeter.

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