Jan 30, 2022


Record Handle of $5.98 Million Set on the 11-Race Card

(Houston, TX) – A very successful renewal of the Houston Racing Festival at Sam Houston Race Park took place on Sunday afternoon with exciting performances throughout the program and tremendous support by horseplayers here and across the country. 

For the second year in a row, Sam Houston Race Park set a new all-source handle record with $5.98 million wagered on the 11-race program. This number topped last year’s wagering record of 5.3 million and the $5.2 million wagered on the NTRA Great State Challenge in 2002. 

Stonestreet Stable LLC’s homebred Pauline’s Pearl won the richest race on the card, the Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic.

It was the third win in the Houston Ladies Classic for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, who trained previous winners Midnight Bisou and Lady Apple. On Sunday, Pauline’s Pearl, at odds of 3-5, joined the list as his third winner of the featured race since the Houston Ladies Classic was inaugurated in 2013.

"This is a very key race and the mares who have won this have a big say in the stakes for older mares," said Asmussen. "Pauline's Pearl is a very nice Stonestreet homebred who has been training extremely well and we are proud of this victory.”

Asmussen spoke about the future of the talented filly.

"She won the Fantasy at Oaklawn last year, so we will head back to Hot Springs and hope she continues to progress, He added."

The multiple graded stakes placed filly won the Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn Park last spring before competing in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). She is a daughter of Tapit and is out of the Dixie Union mare Hot Dixie Chick, a multiple graded stakes winner who Asmussen also trained during her racing career.  

With her share of the Houston Ladies Classic purse, Pauline’s Pearl is just shy of becoming racing’s newest millionaire, with $968,500 earned in 11 starts and four wins.

The victory gave Joel Rosario his second stake win of the day aboard Pauline’s Pearl. The pair sat off the pace early and had their work cut out for them as they swung wide in the final turn and pulled clear of runner-up Golden Curl in the stretch to win by nearly four lengths. The final time for the mile and one-sixteenth on the main track stake on the main track was 1:44.43. Golden Curl sat comfortably in second place throughout the race with Tyler Gaffalione aboard for trainer Shawn Davis.

"The trip set up beautifully for us," said Gaffalione. "She broke alertly and the favorite went ahead. I was able to get to her outside. She settled nicely and even though we couldn't catch the winner, my filly gave a good performance today."

The 6-year-old Curlin mare is also bred by Stonestreet and is owned by George Sharp. She made her debut in Houston in the Ladies Classic and was a stakes winner at Remington last fall.

Corey Lanerie and Audrey’s Time finished third for trainer Neil Pessin. Owned by Lothenbach Stables, Audrey’s Time is a 4-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo who shipped in fresh off a win at the Fair Grounds in the $75,000 Joseph Spanky Broussard Stakes.

Becca’s Rocket completed the superfecta while pacesetter The Mary Rose finished fifth, followed by Velvet Crush and Champagne Affair.

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 credit:  Coady Photography