John Deere Juvenile and Adequan Derby Challenge Finals On Sam Houston Weekend Card
Black Onyx was the fastest John Deere Juvenile qualifier from the April 28 trials at Sam Houston Race Park.

© Coady Photography
John Deere Juvenile and Adequan Derby Challenge Finals On Sam Houston Weekend Card

HOUSTON, TXóMAY 17, 2017óSam Houston Race Park hosts its final weekend of live American Quarter Horse racing beginning Friday.

Stakes action includes the final of the $70,020 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge (G3) and the $55,260 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge.

Trainer Brian Stroud Sends Three to the $70,020 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge (G3)

Trainer Brian Stroud had a solid night on April 29, qualifying three of the ten finalists for Saturdayís $70,020 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge (G3).

Ivory Noche, a son of Ivory James, won his 350-yard trial in :18.115 and has been installed as the 5-2 choice. Bred and owned by K and W Land and Cattle Co., he was an impressive trial winner and is now two-for-two in his young career.

"I liked him from day one," said Stroud. "He is sound and a very honest runner. Heís always shown promise and we like his chances in the final."

Stroud will also saddle Alan and Sharon Colleyís homebred Ivory N Ashes as well as Michael Amburnís homebred Jess Tee, a son of Mr Jess Perry, who will be ridden by Francisco Calderon. The sorrel colt made his debut on April 17, running seventh, but showed marked improvement in his trial win two weeks later.

"His first out was disappointing," said Stroud of Jess Teeís debut. "But he looked really good in his trial and we hope both he and Ivory N Ashes run that kind of race on Saturday." Stroud has confidence his trio, but acknowledges that Black Onyx "is probably the horse to beat". The gelded son of Rock Solid Jess, owned by Holly Hooper, is undefeated in two starts and set the fastest qualifying time of :18.051 seconds in trials on April 29. Conditioner Angel Sanchez will give a leg up to rider Jose Martinez.

Trainers Judd Kearl and Jose Espinosa both qualified two juveniles for the John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge. Kearl will saddle Mikey Tinerís He Win It, a gelded son of Tempting Dash, who made his debut in the trials, running second to Ivory Onyx. His second qualifier is Jessanotherbeatin, who will make his second start for owners Esmeralda and Chad Peck.

Espinoza will saddle Louisiana Seis, a son of The Louisiana Cartel for owners Kenneth and Christine Blouch. He owns and trains Thebunnygoeson, a Jess Louisiana Blue filly who notched the tenth fastest qualifying time.

The stakes will run as the eighth race on Saturday with the winner advancing to the $130,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) at Prairie Meadows on October 14.

Gustafame Leads the Field in the $55,260 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge

It will be a family affair Saturday afternoon when fastest qualifier, Gustafame returns for the final of the $55,260 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge. The son of Freighttrain B out of the Dash Ta Fame mare Kensey Ann Fame was bred in Utah by Jim and Louise Padgett. Their son, Jimmy, is a valued assistant to leading Sam Houston Race Park trainer, Judd Kearl.

Gustafame, under jockey Rodrigo Vallejo, setting the fastest time in the April 29 Adquan Texas Derby Challenge trials at Sam Houston Race Park. © Coady Photogrpahy
Gustafame fired fresh off a nine-month layoff on April 29 under jockey Rodrigo Vallejo, winning his 400-yard trial in :19.988 seconds. Installed as the 5-2 morning line choice, the sorrel gelding competed in the John Deere Juvenile Challenge at both Ruidoso Downs and Sam Houston Race Park last year.

"His trial win here was very exciting," said Jim Padgett, who will travel to Houston with his wife, for Saturdayís final. "When you raise them, itís special. As a yearling, he was a very aggressive little guy with a lot of play in him. When it was time for training, we sent him to Judd."

The Padgett and Kearl families have been friends for decades, and Jim Padgett is very proud of Judd, who was honored as 2016 AQHA champion trainer on January 21.

"His success is well-deserved," he added. "He has worked very hard for many years."

Kearl was the conditioner of Bobby W. Myers' homebred BM Casina Royale, last yearís Adequan Texas Derby Challenge winner.

There are several very talented 3-year-olds gunning for the victory in the Adequan. Trainer Leon Bard has won two Challenge races this meet: the Merial Distaff Challenge with Brookside and the AQHA Distance Challenge with Stolis Pro. He qualified three runners to the Adequan final: Trashy Tres, Tac My Time and Deala Quick Game.

Trashy Tres is owned and bred by Jerry Windham, setting the second-fastest qualifying time and will be ridden by Salvador Martinez. Jockey Francisco Calderon will pilot Tac My Time for owners Marco Ramirez and Gary Hartstack and rider Juan Vazquez has the call aboard Pete Scarmardoís homebred Deala Quick Game.

"All three came out of their trials in good shape," said Bard. The winner will represent Texas in the $180,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G3) at Prairie Meadows on October 14.

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Sam Houston Race Park is Houstonís premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including our Suite Level presented by Draft Kings, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winnerís Circle Restaurant and the Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming group events, racing events, shows and tickets, please visit