Belmont Stakes & Bag of Donuts
June 8, 2024
Jan 25, 2023

Bret Calhoun's second chance to train Hidden Connection has worked out splendidly.

Article By: Hal Lundgren

The 4-year-old will line up for Saturday's $300,000 Houston Ladies
Classic with a chance to win Sam Houston Race Park's 1 1/16th-mile

"This is her third race after a layoff, so we'll see how she does,"
Calhoun said.

Calhoun and clients nearly bought her at a sale several years
ago. They eventually passed on the purchase. She never sold.

Later, clients made a buy at a different sale and assigned the
filly to Calhoun without telling him her name.

At first glance, Calhoun told himself, "I know that horse." Indeed. He
looked back through notes and discovered it was the young lady they at first
decided not to buy. Under his conditioning, Hidden Connection
continues to race well.

She competed in last year's Kentucky Oaks and Fair Grounds Oaks as a
3-year-old. She nearly won the latter. Now comes her big jump, taking
on an older field. Four of her six opponents are 5- and 6-year-olds.

"It's a very mature group," the Breeders' Cup-winning trainer said.

Hidden Connection stepped off a December victory by 7 1/2 lengths. In
the Ladies Classic, Calhoun would settle for winning by a head bob.

Here are Calhoun's other runners in Saturday's Houston Racing Festival.

*** Vietnam Victory in the $100,000 Groovy Stakes.

"A Vietnam veteran came to me wanting to buy a horse within his
budget," Calhoun said. They bought the horse we liked, and he won
his first two starts.

Calhoun observed, "I've had my eye on this race for some time. The
only problem is we couldn't find the right prep race for Vietnam
Victory. He hasn't raced since September. We've tried to get him as
fit as possible for the Groovy without that prep race."

*** Starteca in the $100,000 Bara Lass Stakes

"She was ready to run right off the bat," Calhoun said. "She's a
win-early horse, but she still hasn't reached her potential. We've
pointed her toward these good 3-year-old races run in Texas from
January to July, including the Bara Lass.

*** Send The Boss in the $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile

"I've looked forward to getting him on grass, and this is the race,"
Calhoun said.

"He has made mistakes in races. So he has needed time to figure out
how to race."

Patient in his last race, Calhoun said. "He waited until horses split
so he could move through the opening. After that, he drew off to win."