Sam Houston Derby Trials Draw 61 Sophomores

Grade 2-winner Ivan James makes his 3-year-old debut Friday at Sam Houston Race Park.

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Jorge Meraz's Ivan James headlines Friday's 350-yard Sam Houston Derby trials at Sam Houston Race Park.

A total of 61 3-year-olds has been entered in Friday’s Sam Houston Derby (G3) trials at Sam Houston Race Park.

The 10 fastest qualifiers from the seven 350-yard trials will meet in the $35,000-added final on April 23.

Ivan James, a homebred son of Ivory James trained by Angel Sanchez for owner Jorge Meraz, will be make his sophomore debut in the first trial. The colt is coming off of a 2-year-old campaign during which he earned $283,452 from four outs, and his two wins included a 1 1/4-length victory as the odds-on favorite in the 330-yard, $621,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) on April 25.

Ivan James drew post 6 and will be ridden by Luis Vivanco.

Vivanco will ride graded stakes winner Cartels Pop Pop from post 3 in the second heat. A gray colt by The Louisiana Cartel racing for Chad and Esmeralda Peck from the barn of trainer Patrick Clemons, Cartels Pop Pop will be making his first start since July 25, when he rallied to win the 350-yard, $414,000 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG2) at Retama Park.

Catching Fire Corona will be ridden by David Alvarez from post 7 in the fourth trial. A homebred gelded son of Fire And Corona trained by Robert Touchet for owner Hector Salinas, Catching Fire Corona ended his juvenile campaign with a second-place finish to eventual Oklahoma Derby (G3) winner Queen Washita in the December 19, $258,000 Evangeline Downs in Louisiana.

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