SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK WILL HOST FOUR TEXAS CHAMPIONS STAKES ON SATURDAY, JANUARY 27
Stakes Action Continues Sunday with the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup and Four Undercard Features
HOUSTON, TX - Sam Houston Race Park will salute accredited Texas-breds Saturday night with four Texas Champions stakes. The four featured events will be run as the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth races of the card, which gets underway at 6:00 pm (CT).
Can’t Be Wrong To Defend His Title in the $50,000 Richard King Stakes
A contentious field of ten will compete in the $50,000 Richard King Stakes, for 4-year-olds and upward at a mile and one-eighth on the Connally Turf Course.
Can’t Be Wrong, a 5-year-old son of Broken Vow, won the 2017 edition of the race, which was run on the main track due to heavy rain last year. There is little chance of that this year, which bodes well for the bay gelding, bred and owned by Maccassar Corporation. He has proven his affinity for the grass, with four turf wins from eight starts, including back-to-back victories in the $50,000 Texas Hall of Fame at Retama Park. Trained by Danny Pish, Can’t Be Wrong will be ridden by Ted Gondron
“He’s training well, and Ted has ridden him on turf and dirt,” said Pish. “Over the years, I’ve had some good Texas Champions wins. I hope to continue the tradition this weekend.”
Mav Master, owned by Hal Browning and trained by Kari Craddock, was the runner-up last year in the Richard King and returns under jockey Lindey Wade. Also in the field are P Millers Clock, who ran third in the 2017 Richard King and F J Uncle Vic, owned by Terry Eoff and Johnny Evans. The 7-year-old son of Uncle Abbie is a multiple-stakes winner who will make his 52nd career start with Lane Luzzi in the irons.
The Richard King will kick off the evening’s stakes action as the fifth race, with an approximate post time of 7:52 pm.
Defending Champion Zippit E Leads the Field in the $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes
Seven fillies and mares will be featured in the six-furlong $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes with 2017 winner Zippit E seeking his third career stakes win. Bred and owned by Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch, the daughter of My Golden Song is trained by Bret Calhoun, who has also entered Douglas Scharbauer’s homebred Archer City in the Yellow Rose.
“Zippit E is a nice mare,” said Calhoun. “We had a tough time finding races for her in Kentucky and Indiana, so we just brought her back to Texas and freshened her for Sam Houston and Lone Star.”
Lindey Wade will ride Zippit E and Archer City, who won the $65,000 Two Altazano Stakes last meet, will be ridden by Iram Diego.
“Archer City is a really talented filly,” added Calhoun. “She’s found a good rhythm coming off a layoff at Remington Park and won her last race pretty handily.”
The field includes four mares sired by Too Much Bling, including Ruby Rumba, who ran fourth in last year’s Yellow Rose as well as Prada’s Bling, the eighth-place finisher.
Trainer Bret Calhoun Has Two Contenders in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas
Calhoun has two solid sprinters in the six-furlong $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes. Bravura, bred and owned by Victoria Ashford of Dallas, Texas, is the defending champion and Supermason, owned by Brad Grady, is also a stakes winner at Sam Houston Race Park.
Bravura, a 5-year-old son of Early Flyer has a strong stakes resume’ at Sam Houston beginning with his victory in the $50,000 Groovy Stakes in 2016, followed by an impressive score in the $75,000 Jim’s Orbit. He won the Spirit of Texas last year and will be ridden by 2016/ 2017 Sam Houston leading rider, Iram Diego. This will be the first race for Bravura since finishing second to Supermason in the Premiere Stakes on April 20 at Lone Star Park. Supermason, a talented 6-year-old son of Grasshopper won the 2015 Jim’s Orbit, and ran third in the 2017 Spirit of Texas. Lindey Wade has the return call.
“In a perfect world, I would have had a prep race for Bravura, but he’s training well and always brings his “A” game,” said Calhoun. “Supermason ran well last summer at Lone Star and finished up the year with a monster race at Remington Park.”
Other accomplished sprinters include David L. Davis' homebred A M Milky Way, who won the Spirit of Texas in 2016 as well as the 2015 Groovy Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park. Rumpole, bred and owned by Joe Archer of Fletcher Properties Inc., returns to stakes action following his victory in last year’s $50,000 Groovy Stakes. Trainer Robert Young will give a leg up to rider Erik McNeil.
Flurry Racing Stables may run Imma Bling in the Spirit of Texas or the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint on Sunday, according to owner Staton Flurry. Joe Bravo is slated to ride the daughter of Too Much Bling, who returns to action following a victory in the $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes at Fair Grounds last month.
Ten Fillies and Mares to Run in the $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes
In the final stakes of the evening, a full field of fillies and mares will take to the Connally Turf Course for the mile and one-sixteenth $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes.
Several of the San Jacinto entrants competed in the $50,000 Fiesta Mile at Retama Park on October 21. Trainer Mindy Willis trained the winner of that stake, Special Rockstar owned by Star Bright Thoroughbreds. The 6-year-old mare by Special Rate has won seven of her 31 career starts and will be ridden by Danny Sorenson.
Shezadoll, trained by Danny Pish, ran second to Special Rockstar and will break from post position five under Iram Diego. Pish will also saddle 4-year-old San Antonio Stroll with Ted Gondron up.
Henry Witt’s Witts Town has won four of her eight turf starts and placed fourth in the Fiesta Mile, behind Dagny, a 5-year-old mare trained by Dallas Keen.
Soul Affair, an allowance winner last meet, will break from the far outside post under jockey Chris Rosier. The Century Acres Farm homebred daughter of Grasshopper is trained by Tina Rena Hurley.
Houston Astros Championship Trophy at Sam Houston Race Park
Baseball fans will not want to miss an exciting opportunity on Saturday, January 27 as Sam Houston Race Park has been selected as one of the stops on the Houston Astros Championship Trophy Tour. The city of Houston is still euphoric over the Houston Astros winning the 2017 World Series and fans are invited to take photos with the Championship Trophy at Sam Houston Race Park from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. For further information, visit shrp.com.
Houston Racing Festival Set for January 28, 2018
A special Sunday live racing program will take place on January 28 at noon when Sam Houston Race Park presents the Houston Racing Festival. The $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) for fillies and mares will anchor the richest day of the 2018 Thoroughbred racing season. The card will also feature the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf (G3); $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint; $50,000 Bara Lass; $50,000 Groovy Stakes and $50,000 Houston Distaff.
The draw for the Houston Racing Festival will take place today, Wednesday, January 24.
Sam Houston Race Park, Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, is located just 15 miles from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including 16 luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
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Photos: Coady Photography