03/26/2013 3:21PM

Sam Houston Quarter Horse meet begins Thursday

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Sam Houston Race Park will jump into its Quarter Horse season Thursday night with a full slate of trial races. The theme of the entire opening weekend, in fact, is trials. The most important card will be Saturday night, when qualifying races are run for the Grade 2 Sam Houston Futurity. Last year, the 330-yard race for 2-year-olds was worth $487,770.

The Sam Houston Futurity is the richest race of the 24-date meet that continues through May 18. The race’s finale is to be held April 13. On the same card is the Grade 3 Sam Houston Derby, with trials for the race for 3-year-olds being held Friday night. The nine trial races Thursday night will produce starters for the Sam Houston Maiden Classic on April 12.

Sam Houston closed its Thoroughbred meet March 18, and much like a set change for a live show is quickly transitioning to its annual Quarter Horse season. Other highlights of the new meet will include the Grade 1, $100,000 Texas Challenge Championship on April 20. The 440-yard race for 3-year-olds and up is a qualifier for the Challenge Championship later this year at Los Alamitos. It will share a card with the $20,000 Texas Distance Challenge for 3-year-olds and up at 870 yards. The Grade 2 Sam Houston Classic is another major 440-yard race for 3-year-olds and up, and it will be held May 10.

Sam Houston will race on a Thursday-through-Saturday night basis most weeks during the meet for Quarter Horses.