Aguila Rapida Posts Top Qualifying Mark In John Deere San Houston Juvenile Challenge Trials
Aguila Rapida, under jockey Luis Vivanco, posting the fastest qualifying time for the $40,000-added John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile Challenge(G3) on Friday night.

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Aguila Rapida Posts Top Qualifying Mark In John Deere San Houston Juvenile Challenge Trials

HOUSTON, TX–APRIL 19, 2024–Aguila Rapida, a 2-year-old son of champion sire Tempting Dash from the powerful 'Candy' female line, broke his maiden at first asking on Friday night while posting the fastest qualifying time for the $40,000-added John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile Challenge (G3) on Quarter Horse season opening night at Sam Houston Race Park Friday.

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. John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) to be contested on Saturday, October 26 as part of the AQHA Racing's Challenge Championship Night at The Downs at Albuquerque.

Aguila Rapida was one of four finalists to the John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile saddled by leading trainer Toby Keeton.

Keeton named jockey Luis Vivanco to ride all four qualifiers including the night's fastest, Aguila Rapida for owner and co-breeder Simmons Racing. The Tempting Dash gelding dueled early then drove to the fastest clocking of :17.797 clocking, a 92-speed index into an 8 mph headwind.  

He unseated his rider after the finish line and was brought back to the winner's circle by the outrider. Vivanco remounted to get the photo.

"We expected a good performance from him," said Cindy Keeton (wife of trainer Toby Keeton, who manages their Sam Houston string while Toby is at Remington Park). "Toby was asked by breeder John Simmons to come look at the babies and Anguila Rapida was one of the ones Toby liked. He is extremely fast, but was difficult to break, which is why we had to cut him.  You saw what he did to (Luis) Vivanco; that's how he is! But, He's extremely fast!"

Simmons Racing co-bred Aguila Rapida in Texas with Donnie Griffin from the One Famous Eagle mare Eyema Eagle. This is the family of champion/champion sire Jess Good Candy, two-time Champion of Champions winner Apolitical Pence and Texas Classic Derby(G1) winner Chasing Aj.

Keeton also added how pleased she was to qualify two runners, Kiss My Legs by Kiss My Hocks and Poochies Candy by Jess Good Candy, from the mare Lovely Legs.

"We were also very proud that Kiss My Legs and Poochies Candy qualified," she said. "To get two from the same mare, Lovely Legs, is very special."

Pirata Jess, a $160,000 Heritage Place Yearling Sale graduate, finished second to Aguila Rapida in the first trial but still managed to hold on to the second-fastest qualifying time of :17.934, an 88 speed index.

Trainer Raul Galvan named champion jockey Rodrigo Vallejo to ride the son of leading sire Apollitical Jess for owner Tabasco Racing LLC. The bay colt entered his career debut off 250-yard work at Retama Park on March 27 where he posted the 8th fastest time from 89 head that day from the gate.

Dunn Ranch bred the colt, under the name Sweet Southern Jess, from the first crop out of stakes-placed Sweet 16, a daughter of Pyc Paint Your Wagon.  The second dam is Grade 3 winner Fovee, by the thoroughbred sire Fovee, who is the dam of four black type including Grade 2 winner College Scandal.

Nfluencer, a $7,000 TQHA Yearling Sale repurchase by second-crop sire Hawkeye, broke her maiden at first asking in the final trial to record the third fastest-clocking of :18.069, an 82-speed index into an 8 mph headwind. Agruelio Gallegos had the riding call.

Trainer Francisco Campos, Jr. saddled the Texas homebred filly to her first career win for owner-breeder SF Racing and Enterprises, LLC. Nfluencer's dam Rosearian, by Coronado Cartel, was a finalist in the TQHA Sale Futurity(RG2). The third dam is a stakes-placed thoroughbred daughter of Salt Lake (TB).

Juan Diaz, Jr. was the only other trainer who saddled multiple qualifiers–6th fastest Blue Eyed Jane and 7th fastest Hiclass Bonita. First-crop sire Chilitos sire 10th fastest qualifier Peppa.

For the complete list of John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile 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 or follow on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok or YouTube.