Burgart Blog: Sam Houston Challenge Races
De Laurentis is Ed Burgart's top selection in the John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile Challenge at Sam Houston Race Park on Thursday.

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Burgart Blog: Sam Houston Challenge Races

By Ed Burgart

Q-RACING—JUNE 7, 2021— It's hard for me to see De Laurentis losing Thursday's $103,598 John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile Challenge, while the prior race, the $60,401 Adequan® Sam Houston Derby Challenge, is more contentious with Hot Lady Returns and Shezasecretknockout appearing to be the most likely winners.

The first-place finishers in both Sam Houston Challenge races Thursday advance to their respective finals on Bank of America Challenge Championship night, which is October 23 at The Downs at Albuquerque in New Mexico.

After closely watching last-out video-tape replays of all entrants in Thursday's Challenge races, analyzing past company lines and looking closely at post position draws, I have narrowed down the Adequan® Sam Houston Derby Challenge to four horses. They are Hot Lady Returns, Shezasecretknockout, A Sweet Capo and Viva Le Merica. In the Juvenile Challenge race, I look for De Laurentis to win easily while Wicked Eagle One, Kas Shes EC, Hot Dynasty Z and DM Moonpie are horses I suggest to use in exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagers.

First, let's look at the top contenders in the Adequan® Derby Challenge. Hot Lady Returns drew a comfortable No. 7 post in the eight-horse field and comes off a much-troubled third-place finish two weeks ago at Sam Houston. The filly turned her head to the right as the gate door opened and missed the break by more than 1 length.

She then unleashed a good rally to finish 1 1/4 lengths behind Eye Will Decide. However, the latter's only prior victory came in a Lone Star maiden race last year. Hot Lady Returns was third in the 2020 John Deere Retama Juvenile Challenge and leads the field with $19,662 in earnings.

Shezasecretknockout has more upside than Hot Lady Returns while only making her second 2021 start. She scored a handy maiden victory three weeks ago and was second in her 2020 finale at Evangeline Downs behind Tee Britt, who was fourth in last year's Dash For Cash Futurity (G2).

A Sweet Capo disliked the wet oval at Sam Houston six weeks ago in his last outing when ninth, and was second two outs ago versus Rare High Dynasty, a three-time 2020 winner. A Sweet Capo was only 4/100ths behind Hot Lady Returns when fifth in last year's John Deere Retama Juvenile Challenge.

Viva Le Merica was bumped off stride at the start of her last Remington Park start when eighth while 1 length behind winner Elphab, who recently ran second in a Ruidoso Derby trial.

So my selections are No. 2 Shezasecretknockout, No. 7 Hot Lady Returns, No. 4 A Sweet Capo and No. 1 Viva Le Merica. From a wagering standpoint, I like a 2-7 exacta box and a trifecta key of 2,7 with 1,2,4,7.

In the John Deere Juvenile Challenge race, De Laurentis will be a very short price after running 18/100ths faster than any of his nine competitors in a 350-yard trial three weeks ago. He broke super and was in-hand with a smooth stride. He also won his Remington Park debut by 1 1/4 lengths while defeating Fly Donna Fly, who since was fourth in a Heritage Place Futurity (G1) trial. I can't see the rail post being a hindrance based on De Laurentis' professional behavior in his trial victory.

I'm suggesting Wicked Eagle One as the likely runner-up. He has drawn the rail post in both runner-up tries and now switches to Post 8. He veered in sharply at the start of his last 1-length setback and dropped a neck photo in his prior debut versus Panhandle Dynasty, who since won a Ruidoso Futurity (G1) trial.

Kas Shes EC broke a step slow but recovered nicely to defeat Wicked Eagle One by 1 length in a nice debut victory. Hot Dynasty Z drifted in from Post 2 when 1 1/2 lengths behind De Laurentis in his trial runner-up and now starts from Post 7. DM Moonpie benefitted by the far outside post when the only horse to qualify from the third of four trials.

So, my suggested wager is a 1-8 exacta from De Laurentis to Wicked Eagle One along with trifectas of 1 with 4,8 with 4,5,7,8.

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