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Jockey Luis Vivanco Having A Year To Remember
Luis Vivanco has had an epic season at Sam Houston Race Park

Coady Photography
Jockey Luis Vivanco Having A Year To Remember

HOUSTON, TX±JUNE 6, 2024–There are just seven days remaining in the 2024 Sam Houston Race Park live racing season, but the schedule is packed with exciting special events and captivating Quarter Horse action. One of the most anticipated national racing events is set for Saturday, June 8, with the final jewel of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, the 156th running of the Belmont Stakes.

There will be a special afternoon post of 1:00 pm (Central) for Sam Houston Race Park‘s ten-race Quarter Horse program, but gates will open at 8:00 am so fans can enjoy the entire Belmont card, which gets underway at 10:45 am (ET). Saratoga will host this year’s Belmont Day as the Elmont, NY, track completes major renovations. The 14-race program includes nine stakes, highlighted by the Grade 1, $2,000,000 Belmont Stakes, with a field of ten competing in the 12th race at 6:41 pm (ET).

Live Quarter Horse racing begins at 1:00 pm with the $67,285 Colors of Houston Futurity (G2) running as the first race of the afternoon.  Soy Toxico, who was the fastest qualifier from trials contested on May 23, is the 9-5 morning line favorite. The 2-year-old son of Chilitos is undefeated in two starts for owner Gilbert Pachecho, III, trainer Jose Sanchez, and Sam Houston Race Park’s leading jockey Luis Vivanco.

Fans are invited to a special event: the Horsepower & Brews Classic Car Show on Saturday, June 8. The show will be followed by a concert by Bag of Donuts. Admission is just $5.00, and children five and under are FREE. For more information on the exciting day, visit shrp.com.

Epic Season at Sam Houston Race Park for Jockey Luis Vivanco

From opening day of the 2024 Quarter Horse meet at Sam Houston Race Park, jockey Luis Vivanco came out with a renewed passion and work ethic. With just seven days remaining in the season, he has built an insurmountable lead over his fellow riders. He already has 36 wins this season in Houston, 18 more than Victor Urieta, Jr. Vivanco is named on 17 mounts this week and will be a force through June 15, the final night of the season. Trainer Isidro translated for Vivanco after works Wednesday morning as he was asked to comment on his resurgence in 2024.

“I owe this to God,” explained Vivanco. “I have changed my life and put my family and career first. Many trainers, including Toby Keeton, saw my commitment, and I want to work hard for each horseman that has trusted me to ride their horses.”

The native of Vera Cruz, Mexico, began riding professionally in 2007. Texas has always been his preferred circuit, and he has ridden 7,125 horses, with 1,172 victories and purses in excess of $15 million. Vivanco, 41, has won three leading rider titles here, beginning in 2011 and 2013. He clinched the title again in 2014 when he guided Kiss My Hocks to victory in the Sam Houston Futurity for owners Conda Maze and Tyler Graham. In his debut, the son of Tempting Dash set a new 330-yard  track record of :16.433 seconds in his trial for the prestigious championship. That record, set on March 29, 2014, still stands.

Vivance set another track record at Sam Houston Race Park aboard Cowgurl up last weekend. © Coady Photography

Just last weekend, Vivanco set another track record at Sam Houston Race Park aboard Cowgurl Up for breeder and owner P and D Racing. Ltd.  Sired by Flying Cowboy 123, she competed in last year’s trials for the Sam Houston Futurity, broke her maiden this year on May 9 and unleashed a powerful closing kick here on June 1 in the ninth race, setting a new 350-yard track record of :17.193 seconds.  The previous record of :17.238 seconds was set by Sarah Must on March 30, 2012.

Toby Keeton trains both horses, and Vivanco shared his reaction to the major accomplishment of setting two track records.

Kiss My Hocks was unbelievable, and riding him during the early part of his career was something I will never forget,” said Vivanco. “We knew Cowgurl Up was talented, but she surprised the heck out of me! What happened in a few seconds was beyond imagination!”

Vivanco had experienced it before, but maybe at this juncture of his career, these milestone events take on an even deeper meaning.

“I didn’t sleep well Saturday night,” he added. “I thought about it so many times and felt so blessed that I have ridden such great horses. There are many great riders out there, but you can’t be successful without good mounts and trainers who believe in you.”

Toby Keeton, who is currently the leading North American Quarter Horse trainer by wins (63), is proud of Vivanco.

“He’s working hard and riding better than ever,” stated Keeton.

Vivanco, his wife, and their two children reside in Poteet, Texas. He treasures his time with his family and looks forward to being a little closer to home this summer when the Retama Park season begins on June 27.

Trainer Hinojosa has been a friend of Vivanco for two decades.

“Of course, most fans know that Luis is a really talented jockey,” he said. “He is also a devoted family man and a heck of a cook!”

Draw for the Sam Houston Futurity and Sam Houston Derby to Take Place on June 8

Sam Houston Race Park will host a stakes-filled closing night of its 2024 live racing season on Saturday, June 15. The program will be highlighted by the richest race of the season, the $621,810 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) and the $280,450 Sam Houston Derby.  Additional stakes include:

  • $69,090 Sam Houston Juvenile Stakes 2 YO 330 yards
  • $50,000 Jesse Yoakum Memorial 870 Stakes 3 YO & Up 870 yards
  • $50,000 Willie Hickman Memorial Stakes 3 YO & Up 400 yards
  • $50,000 Miss Sam Houston Stakes F & M 3 YO & Up 330 yards
  • $50,000 Sam Houston 250 Stakes 3 YO & Up 250 yards
  • $50,000 Sam Houston 550 Stakes 3 YO & Up 550 yards
  • $20,000 Colors of Houston Maturity(G2) 3 YO 350 yards

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About Sam Houston Race Park
Operated by Penn Entertainment Inc., Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles northwest of downtown Houston. The racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions for businesses, group outings, and families during racing and the off-season. The track is best known for its award-winning dining. It features multiple areas for fans looking for casual to upscale dining options including its Winner’s Circle Restaurant, Jockey Club, Luxury Suites and Pavilion Centre. For more information or tickets to upcoming live racing, shows and events, please visit www.shrp.com or follow on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or YouTube.