Jan 28, 2024


Jockey Reylu Gutierrez Won Both Turf Stakes on the Houston Racing Festival Card

HOUSTON, TX- For the second year in a row, there were some anxious moments Saturday morning at Sam Houston Race Park when heavy rain pelted the Houston area earlier this week and again on Friday evening. But, thankfully, the  Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup as well as the $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile remained on the grass. 


Driving Finish Secures Eighth Grade 3, $200,000  John B. Connally Turf Cup Victory for Trainer Mike Maker

While trainer Mike Maker is not a Texan, he has stamped his imprint on the Connally Turf Cup with victories in seven editions of the mile and one-half  stakes. He sent three turf specialists to Houston this year and emerged victorious for the eighth time with Three Diamond Farms’ Dynadrive. Gutierrez in the saddle. The gelding by Temple City is ownedd by Three Diamonds Farm, whose millionaire Bigger Picture won three editions of the Connally Turf. 

Reylu Gutierrez had the call aboard the 7 year-old son of Temple City by Harbingerofthings, bred by Spendthrift Farm LLC. He tracked the early pacesetter Ocelot through splits of :25.56; :51.70 and 1:18.32 before taking command in the stretch and crossing the wire in a final time of 2:34.00 over a yielding course.

“Jose Santos (Rey’s agent) and I talked about our game plan and wanted to keep Dynadrive covered up,” explained Gutierrez. “Ocelot is a really nice horse, and I didn’t want to press him. At the 3/8th pole, I had a lot of horses. It was nice to win for Three Diamonds Farm, who supported me as an apprentice in New York.”

Gutierrez commended the condition of the course, which withstood a tremendous amount of water this week.

“Sam Houston’s turf course was excellent; not yielding at all,” he added. “Credit to Sam Houston’s track maintenance crew; they worked really hard this week!” 

Richard Meier saddled the Maker trio in Houston, while Maker was running on Pegasus Day at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

“The time off did him well,” said Maker of Dynadrive who made his last start in the Grade 1, Canadian National at Woodbine on October 8. “I was a little concerned about the soft turf, but Rey got him in good position. It was nice to get another Connally win for Three Diamonds Farm.”

Karl Broberg, trainer of  Ocelot, ridden by Elvin Gonzalez, was in Houston participating in the NHC Handicapping Contest.

“I won the contest but was devastated that Ocelot could not hold off the winner,” he said.

Red Run with Fernando Jara in the irons, ran third followed by Palazzi, Sword Zorro, Catch That Party,  Seductive USA,  Singpore Flash and Summer Lover.


Dynadrive ($13.80) improved his record to 9 wins from 33 starts with earnings of $427,918.


The John B. Connally Turf was awarded Grade 3 status in 2006 and boasts a solid roster of past winners including Chorwon, Warleigh, Fort Prado,Rod and Staff,  Swift Warrior  as well as three-time champions, Candid Glen and Bigger Picture


Neat Tops Six Rivals in the $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile

New York based trainer Rob Atras made his first start at Sam Houston Race Park a winning one with a very impressive victory by Neat($4.80) in the $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile


Rey Gutierrez had the call on the chestnut colt, sired by Constitution, taking command early for owner Red White and Blue Racing and drawing off by 5 ¾ lengths.  His final time was 1:39.50.


“He broke really well,” said Gutierrez “ The turf course was fine, and I saved ground on the rail. It is an absolute honor to ride for Rob.”


The Kentucky-bred was making his fifth career start and after a good turf effort on the Fair Grounds turf, Atras felt Bob Bork would be a good start for his 3-year-old campaign.


“He looked pretty good out there and Rey gave him a good ride,” stated Atras.”Randy and Steve (partners in Red White and Blue Racing) have been very supportive.”


Illustrator trained by Ray Ashford, ran second, followed by Committee of One, Ruddy Buddy, Third Street, Judge McBee and Card Trick. Macho Grande, Malibu Rain, and Pink Polkadots were scratched.


The Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile is named in honor of the late president of Sam Houston Race Park. His sons, Michael and Dan Bork, were in Houston to make the trophy presentation.



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 www.shrp.com or follow on: FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok or YouTube.




Photo credit:  Jack Coady /Coady Photography: