Challenge


Ensignia Picks Up Third Win, Sets Top Qualifying Mark In Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge Trials
Ensignia, under jockey Oliver Martinez, drive to victory in the second of three trials to set the fastest qualifying time for the Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge.

Coady Photography
Ensignia Picks Up Third Win, Sets Top Qualifying Mark In Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge Trials

HOUSTON, TX–APRIL 19, 2024–Ensignia raced to his third win in five starts this season when he defeated Frankie Jr as the post-time favorite while setting the fastest qualifying time for the $40,000-added Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge on Friday, San Houston Race Park's 2024 Quarter Season opening night.

The 10 fastest qualifiers will return to the Houston, Texas racetrack on Saturday, May 10th to not only vie for the winner's share of the local purse but also earn a starting spot in the $125,000-est. Adequan Challenge Derby Championship (G3) to be contested on Saturday, October 26 as part of the AQHA Racing's Challenge Championship Night at The Downs at Albuquerque.

Under jockey Oliver Martinez Ensignia drove down the track to stop the clock in :19.585 seconds, a 110-speed index into a 12 mph headwind, the night's fastest trial clocking for 400 yards.

Trainer Gilberto Gonzalez conditions the son of multiple stakes sire Duponte for owner Guerras Racing Stables. The owners paid $29,000 for the gelding as the 2022 TQHA Yearling Sale. Bred by AQHA Racing champion breeder Bobby D. Cox, from the Apollitical Jess mare Celtic Emblem, Ensignia was winless in six starts at 2, but did qualify for the TQHA Sale Juvenile.

"He was impressive", said Gonzalez of Ensignia. "In the beginning of last year, he had ankle surgery and we did not want to push him. This year, the riders have told me that he is running better in each race. (Jockey) Oliver Martinez rode for me last year at Lone Star, but did not come to Louisiana Downs earlier this year. He is a good rider and we are happy to have him in Houston."

Fastest trial runner-up Frankie Jr held on for the second fastest clocking :19.660 seconds, a 108-speed index.  Trainer Juan Diaz, Jr. named jockey Victor Urieta, Jr. to ride the stakes-placed gelding for owner Jimmie Rodriguez.


B Cn You, under champion jockey Rodrigo Vallejo, winning the opening Adequan Derby trial Friday night.
© Coady Photography

Angel and Roberto Laurel and F. J. Garza bred the son of Kas Tempting in Texas from the Stoli mare Fear This Stoli.  Frankie Jr was second in the Old South Futurity last season and has banked $35,803 in seven career starts.

B Cn You, under champion jockey Rodrigo Vallejo, was a neck winner over Native Country Chick in the opening trial to post the third fastest clocking of :19.692 seconds, a 107 speed index into an 8 mph headwind.

Trainer Raul Galvan saddled the son of leading sire Kiss My Hocks for owner Tabasco Racing LLC. The Homer A. Hill Estate bred B Cn You in Oklahoma from the Valiant Hero mare Glory Rider. Friday night's trial victory was the first career win, in four starts, for the bay gelding who last raced at Los Alamitos Race Course last September. 

For the complete list of Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge qualifiers with times, sires, dams, owners, breeders, trainers, and jockeys CLICK HERE.

Additional reporting by Martha Claussen.

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 and 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 us on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or YouTube.