$100,000 PULSE POWER SPRINT KICKS OFF THE HOUSTON RACING FESTIVAL STAKES ACTION ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 30 AT SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK
$75,000 Stonerside Sprint and $75,000 Jersey Lilly Complete the Strong Undercard
HOUSTON, TX- While many racing fans might be focused on the two graded stakes on this Sunday’s Houston Racing Festival at Sam Houston Race Park, three additional undercard stakes will offer plenty of excitement as well.
The January 30 live Thoroughbred program begins at 1:45 pm (CT) and the stakes action gets underway in race 5 with the $100,000 Pulse Power Turf Sprint. The $75,000 Stonerside Sprint runs as race nine and will be followed by the $75,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes, which will be the final feature of the 11-race card.
Bad Beat Brian Five Furlongs in the $100,000 Pulse Power Sprint
The $100,000 Pulse Power Turf Sprint, a five-furlong turf stakes, will kick of the stakes action with a quality field of eight sprinting on the Connally Turf Course.
Mike Maker will saddle the 8-5 morning line favorite Bad Beat Brian for owners Paradise Farms and David Staudacher. They claimed the son of Jack Melton for $40,000 last summer and he delivered a solid performance at Gulfstream Park on December 4 winning the $90,000 Claiming Crown Tom Metzen Memorial Starter. Jockey Tyler Gafflione will ride the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred, who has won six of his 21 career efforts.
“He got a lively pace in his Claiming Crown race and ran well for Tyler in his (October 22) turf sprint at Keeneland,” said Maker, who won this race in 2018 with Hogy and in 2017 with Partly Mocha.
Crawford Farms Racing’s Archidust is also a strong contender for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has been honored as Sam Houston Race Park’s leading trainer 13 times. The 6-year-old, sired by Verrazano, is the high earner in the field with $485,190 banked in 23 starts. He will make his first start since August 7 at Ellis Park, with Joel Rosario in the saddle.
“I’m excited to see him run on Sunday,” commented Asmussen. “His last couple of works were very good and he has been successful in previous turf sprints.”
Asmussen, won the 2012 edition of this stakes with Great Mills. He will also saddle Courtland Farms’ homebred Americanus with Corey Lanerie aboard and Grinning Tiger, who competed in last month’s $75,000 Richard Scherer Memorial at Fair Grounds. The 7-year-old will be ridden by Stewart Elliott for owner Tyree J. Wolesensky.
Karl Broberg, who is the current leading trainer at Sam Houston, entered two runners in the Pulse Power.
Seven Scents was claimed for $25,00 by Broberg and owners Claiming Game Racing and ships in from Fair Ground off a solid second-place finish on January 14. Reylu Gutierrez has the call aboard the 6-year-old gelding sired by Goldencents. Sarcastic Tone makes his Sam Houston debut and first race on the turf, for Broberg’s End Zone Athletics, Inc. The 4-year-old colt by Tonalist was claimed for $10,000 last August. Lane Luzzi has the call and will break from the far outside post
The Pulse Power Sprint will run as the fifth race on the Houston Racing Festival, with an approximate post time of 3:53 pm (CT).
Contentious Dozen Entered in the $75,000 Stonerside Sprint
A full field of quality sprinters will compete Sunday in the $75,000 Stonerside Sprint, which will run as the ninth race of the card. Last year’s edition was one of the most exciting features with a dead-heat between the front-running Hollis who was caught at the wire by Skyride.
End Zone Athletic, Inc’s Greeley and Ben will break from post position two as the 3-1 morning line choice. The 8-year-old son of Greeley’s Conquest is a multiple-stakes winning sprinter and has been close to unbeatable over the last 12 months. Last year, the bay gelding won 11 of his 15 starts, and was honored as 2021 Remington Park Horse of the Meet. He ships to Houston off a three-length victory in the $75,000 Sam’s Town at Delta Downs. Ry Eikleberry will ride for trainer Karl Broberg.
“He’s had an absolutely incredible run,” said Broberg. “I would have preferred something other than the two-hole, but he’s settling in nicely at Sam Houston and know Ry will give him a strong ride.”
Two Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) Horses of the Year Direct Dial and Mr Money Bags are both notable entrants. W.S. Farish’s homebred Direct Dial won both the $75,000 H-Town Stakes and the $100,000 Star of Texas here last year. The 7-year-old son of Too Much Bling has been a stable favorite for trainer Steve Asmussen and will make his 33rd career start Sunday with jockey Stewart Elliott in the irons.
Mr Money Bags, the 2019 TTA Horse of the Year, will be a sentimental favorite as both his breeder Roy Cobb and trainer Mike Neatherlin passed away last year. Jaylan Clary, the 27-year-old daughter of Neatherlin, is now training Mr Money Bags for Mike Neatherlin, who passed away last September due to complications from COVID-19. Regular rider Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez has the call.
“It was both an amazing and very sad year,” added Clary. “I am so grateful that Mrs. (Erma) Cobb stuck it out and we look forward to more success with Mr Money Bags. He and jockey Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez are part of our family.”
Trainer John Alexander Ortiz will not ship Hollis back for this year, but has high hopes for 4G Racing LLC’s Top Gunner, a 5-year-old by Into Mischief, who will break from post position six under Reylu Gutierrez.
“I had pointed The Mary Rose to the (Grade 3, $400,000) Houston Ladies Classic for some time,” explained Ortiz “When Top Gunner ran such a good race at Oaklawn on December 5, I considered bringing him to Houston. His work on January 20 sealed the deal for us. Both Rey and I really enjoyed this stakes last year, and win or lose, are happy to return.”
Formerly named the Sam Houston Sprint Cup, this stakes was renamed in 2019 to honor the late Robert C. McNair and his Stonerside Stable. The well-respected Thoroughbred operation, in central Kentucky, produced national and international racing stars, including Congaree, Bob and John, Tout Charmont and Chilukki. McNair sold Stonerside Stable to Darley in 2008 to devote his full attention to his Houston Texans NFL team and numerous philanthropic causes.
Catch a Bid Leads the Field of Fillies and Mares in the $75,000 Jersey Lilly Turf Stakes
The $75,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes, a mile and-one-sixteenth turf feature for fillies and mares, will be the final stakes on the Houston Racing Festival card. The race closed with twelve entrants and two also-eligibles.
Catch a Bid, a 6-year-old mare by Real Solution, has been installed as the 7-5 morning line favorite. Owned by Highlander Training Center, she is trained by Joe Sharp, who has given the call to Corey Lanerie. This will be her second attempt to win the Jersey Lilly; the Kentucky-bred mare finished fourth in 2021.
“She ran third in the Blushing KD at Fair Grounds,” said Sharp. “There has been a lot of rain in New Orleans and she’s one of those that prefers firmer ground. We always look forward to coming to Sam Houston and running on the Connally Turf Course.”
Breeze Rider ships in from Oaklawn Park for trainer Steve Manley. She’s a multiple-stakes winning daughter of Paynter and exits a fourth-place effort in the $150,000 Pippin on January 8. Veteran jockey E.T. Baird has the return call for owner Mike Piazza (not the MLB catcher!). This will be the first time that the Illinois-based trainer has run at Sam Houston Race Park.
“This mare is much better on the turf,” said Manley. “My owner lives in Houston and is bringing 20 people to see her run. This will be my first time running in Texas, but for years I have heard people say that Sam Houston has one of the best turf courses in the country!”
Trainer Chris Block, who will saddle Another Mystery in the Connally Turf Cup, feels that Town and Country Racing LLC’s Maid of Honor could be sitting on a big effort. The Medaglia d’ Oro mare will break from the far inside post under Jareth Loveberry.
“She has a strong pedigree and we felt this would be a good chance to get some black-type,” said Block. “I love the one hole on turf; prefer not to give up ground. She really stepped up in her last races and will have to take a step forward, but we like her chances.”
Post time for the Jersey Lilly will be (approximately) 6:23 pm (Central).
As previously announced, the tenth renewal of the Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic will run as the seventh race on the Houston Racing Festival Card. The field of seven, from the rail, with riders and morning line odds, is as follows: Velvet Crush, Ry Eikleberry, 8-1); Audrey’s Time, Corey Lanerie, 7-2; Pauline’s Pearl, Joel Rosario, 6-5; Becca’s Rocket, Adam Beschizza, 10-1; Champagne Affair, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez, 30-1; Golden Curl, Tyler Gafflione, 20-1, and The Mary Rose, Reylu Gutierrez 3-1.
In addition, the Grade 3, $200,00 John B. Connally Turf Cup, which will run as the ninth race on the card, attracted a full field of turf specialists. The field for the one and one-half mile stakes, from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds is as follows: Conviction Trade, Lane Luzzi, 20-1; Hierarchy, Corey Lanerie, 5-1; Tide of the Sea, Tyler Gafflione, 10-1; Strong Tide, Giovanni Franco, 10-1; Decision Maker, Marcelino Pedroza, Jr., 12-1; Fantasioso, James Graham, 9-2; Malthael, Reylu Gutierrez, 12-1; Logical Myth, Adam Beschizza, 6-1; Another Mystery, Jareth Loveberry, 8-1; Dyn O Mite, Stewart Elliott, 20-1; Ajourneytofreedom, Joel Rosario, 7-2; Parrot Head, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez, , 30-1; Shady McGee (IRE), Richard Eramia ,30-1 and Celerity, Iram Diego, 50-1.
About Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. Owned by Penn National Gaming. Inc., the racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions including a Suite Level featuring luxurious suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
Photo Credits: Coady Photography