Six Stakes to be Contested on Friday, September1 and Saturday, September 2

SELMA, TX – There were some challenges early in the 2023 Retama Park Quarter Horse meet, but the 23-day live racing season has been successful on many levels as it heads into its final week.


Bryan Pettigrew, Vice President and General Manager of Texas Racing Operations for PENN Entertainment brought in 25 employees from Sam Houston Race Park, Penn National Race Course and L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles to work alongside Retama Park’s management in making improvements to the facilities, racing surfaces and track operations.


“We had a really good meeting with the Texas Racing Commission (TxRC) in Austin outlining our plans for the future improvements to Retama Park,” said Pettigrew. I have the full support of PENN Entertainment and we are committed to serving horsemen and women, and horseplayers at Retama Park. Several horsemen have said that is the best racing surface in 20 years. We are heading in the right direction and will continue our efforts.”


Successful Year Continues for Jockey Ali Rivera

Up and coming Quarter Horse jockey Ali Rivera is poised to win his second leading rider title at a Texas track this year. The 21-year-old, from Elgin, Texas, began riding just three years ago, learning the ropes from his father, Eleazar, a jockey who still rides on the Texas circuit.


Arriving early each morning for works was vital for Rivera as learning as much as possible about each mount pays off as they head to the racetrack in the evenings.  In his first season riding at Retama Park, he won just 3 races. Last year, he finished second in the standings with 20 trips to the winner’s circle.


His confidence grew this year as many trainers have entrusted him with their horses. Rivera claimed his second leading rider title at Sam Houston Race Park on June 17, winning 33 races, and showcasing his riding prowess throughout the meet. One of the most exciting finishes of the closing night card came in the Willie Hickman Memorial Stakes in which Rivera guided his mount Jess Good Leader to the lead, holding off a hold off a furious late rally by the accomplished Jet Black Grace. It was the first stakes win by the 4-year-old bred and owned by Pete Scarmardo and trained by John Stinebaugh.  They continue to be strong supporters of Rivera. 


His highlight so far this season at Retama Park was winning the $55,352 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship on August 11 aboard Pete Scarmardo’s homebred His Time to Deal returned on Friday to win the $55,352 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship at Retama. Rivera also won the Willie Hickman Memorial Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on June 17 aboard the son of Dealagame out of the First Down Dash mare Lady Lilia.


Rivera is excited about riding His Time to Deal in the Bank of America Racing Challenge final that returns to Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie Texas on October 21.


“I am blessed to be able to ride such an amazing horse,” stated Rivera. “Pete is a great breeder, horseman and person. It means a lot to me to have his support.”


Rivera turned 21 on March 28, and is posed for a big closing week at Retama Park before heading to Lone Star Park for their 2023 Quarter Horse meet.  Heading into the final weekend, Rivera has pretty much locked up the leading rider title with 28 trips to the winner’s circle. Francisco Giles is second with 14 wins with Jose Herbert, Raul Ramirez, Jr. and Eliazar Vera tied for third with 11 wins each.


Known for his calm demeanor and hard work, Rivera’s only complaint has to do with the weather! He admits that the 100-plus degree temperatures throughout the meet were very challenging.


“This was the hottest summer ever,” he said. “On Saturday night, I am named on each of the 12 races. “I am definitely looking forward to cooler weather in the next few months!”


Retama Final Weekend Schedule

Live racing will take place Wednesday, August 30, Thursday, August 31, Friday, September 1 and Saturday, September 2.  Post time each evening is 6:15 pm (Central).


Stakes action is as follows:


Friday, September 1
$40,000 The Friendship Stakes 3 YO 330 yards
$40,000 La Villita Stakes 3 YO Fillies 330 yards
Saturday, September 2
$40,000 King William Stakes 3 YO & up 350 yards
$40,000 Tower of the America Stakes 3 YO & up 550 yards
$40,000 Selma Stakes 3 YO & up F&M 350 yards
$40,000 San Marcos Stakes 3 YO & up 870 yards

*Accredited Texas-Breds


Family Fun Night Returns Saturday Night

Despite some record-setting high temperatures in Texas, fans of all ages have enjoyed their evenings at Retama Park.  The second Family Fun Night is set for Saturday, September 2 with family-friendly activities including bounce castles, face painters, petting zoo, pony rides and games. It starts at 5:30 when gates open. Kids 12 and under are free. 


About Retama Park

Retama Park is a Class 1 pari-mutuel horse racetrack located in Selma, Texas, just 20 minutes from downtown San Antonio. Live Quarter Horse races take place each summer, while simulcast wagering and races from around the world are shown daily. Managed by Penn Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ – PENN), Retama Park opened in 1995 and will host its 28th year of operation from July 19 to September 2, 2023. For more information and racing schedules, please visit www.RetamaPark.comfollow on: FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok and YouTube.




Photos:  Coady Photography