SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK’S 2019 THOROUGHBRED MEET GETS UNDERWAY ON FRIDAY, JANUARY 25 WITH THE HOUSTON RACING FESTIVAL SET FOR SUNDAY AFTERNOON
One Lucky Fan To Win $25,000 While Cheering on the Winner of the Grade 3, $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic
HOUSTON, TX— The 2019 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meet commences Friday, January 25 with all systems go for a very exciting opening weekend. Live cards are set for Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm (Central) and Sunday’s Houston Racing Festival, which begins at 1:15 pm.
As announced on Monday, seven fillies and mares will run in Sunday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the richest race of the Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meet. The mile and one-sixteenth feature will run as the ninth race on Sunday with an approximate post time of 5:58 pm (Central).
Midnight Bisou is owned byconditioner Steve Asmussen. The 3-5 morning-line favorite will be ridden by nationally prominent California-based jockey, Mike Smith, who is making his first appearance at Sam Houston Race Park.
The Houston Ladies Classic field, in post position order, with riders and morning line odds is: Song From Above, Sasha Risenhoover, 50-1; Remedy, Joe Bravo, 3-1; Viva Forever, DeShawn Parker, 12-1; Moonlit Garden, Jose Ortiz, 8-1; Heavenhasmynikki, Jose Bracho, 15-1; Prado’s Sweet Ride, Florent Geroux. 6-1 and Midnight Bisou, Mike Smith, 3-5.
Inaugurated in 2013, the Houston Ladies Classic was formed to serve as the marquee race for Sam Houston’s Thoroughbred meet. Now in its seventh running, the mile and one-sixteenth Houston Ladies Classic anchors the Houston Racing Festival, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint, the $50,000 Houston Turf Stakes, the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Turf Stakes and the $50,000 Stonerside Sprint.
In celebration of Sam Houston Race Park’s 25th Anniversary Season, the northwest Houston racetrack will make one fan $25,000 richer on Sunday, January 27th. Free admission will be offered for the Houston Racing Festival program Sunday afternoon and all patrons in attendance will be given an entry slip.
The drawing will take place after race seven and the selected fans will be assigned a saddle cloth number for the Houston Ladies Classic. If their number matches the winning filly or mare, the fan will win $25,000.
Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith To Make First Appearance at Sam Houston Race Park on Sunday
Hall of Fame Jockey Mike E. Smith, will be making his first career trip to Sam Houston Race Park ( www.shrp.com ) for the January 27th Houston Racing Festival!
Winner of the 2018 Triple Crown aboard Justify, Smith was also the regular pilot of the famed mare Zenyatta and is the all-time leader in Breeders’ Cup wins. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2003.
Smith will be arriving at Sam Houston Race Park to compete in the 2019 Houston Racing Festival on January 27th. Prior to riding four mounts in the Houston Racing Festival, Smith will meet fans and sign autographs from 12-1 pm in the SHRP History Room on the first level of the grandstand.
Sam Houston Race Park will host a silent auction on Sunday, January 27th with all proceeds going to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). The PDJF currently helps to support over 60 permanently disabled former Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred riders solely through donations and proceeds. For more information regarding the PDJF, please visit www.pdjf.org.
Florent Geroux Reflects on the 2018 Houston Ladies Classic
Jockey Florent Geroux has enjoyed considerable success at Sam Houston Race Park over the last three years with several key stakes wins, including his victory aboard Tiger Moth in the 2018 Houston Ladies Classic.
The French rider took a few minutes to talk about his extraordinary weekend one year ago when he won the 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational with Gun Runner the day before jetting to Houston. The Grade 1 stakes with a purse of $16.3 million lures the premier national and international horses to Gulfstream Park.
“It was a great memory,” said Geroux. “There was no pressure riding such an amazing horse. We knew it would be his last race and wanted him to go out on top. Of course, that huge purse made it even sweeter!”
Geroux, Jose Ortiz and several other riders flew to Houston Sunday morning and were extremely accommodating in signing autographs for fans prior to the beginning of the Houston Racing Festival card.
This year, Geroux will ride in four stakes on Sunday, including the Houston Ladies Classic aboard Prado’s Sweet Ride for trainer Gary Scherer.
“After her win in the Falls City Handicap (on November 22 at Churchill Downs), I committed to ride her,” explained Geroux. “She is an experienced mare and I am looking forward to riding her. But, we are in tough against Midnight Bisou. I saw her train at Fair Grounds and she is a very nice filly.”
It will mark another whirlwind weekend for Geroux who rides Thursday at Fair Grounds; opening day Friday at Oaklawn Park and Saturday at Gulfstream Park before returning to Sam Houston Race Park for the Houston Racing Festival.
“It will be a busy week, but this is what we love,” he said.
Tiger Moth to Be Bred to Justify
Tiger Moth, last year’s Houston Ladies Classic winner, has been retired and will be bred to Triple Crown champion and 2018 Horse of the Year, Justify. The news was announced on Thursday by John and Tanya Gunther, breeders ofboth Tiger Moth and Justify.
Gunther was honored Thursday night as the 2018 Eclipse Award Champion Breeder. at the 48th annual Eclipse Awards dinner and ceremony at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
The father-daughter team own and operate Glennwood Farm in Versailles, Kentucky.
$50,000 Stonerside Sprint Named in Honor of Bob McNair
A field of eight will compete Sunday in the $50,000 Stonerside Sprint. The six-furlong feature, formerly named the Sam Houston Sprint Cup, was renamed this year 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.
Sam Houston Race Park officials are hopeful that a member of the McNair family will be on hand Sunday afternoon for the trophy presentation. John Adger, who served as racing manager for Stonerside Stable, will be in attendance.
Excellent Weather Forecast for Sunday
Fans looking to enjoy the special live racing program at Sam Houston Race Park will experience ideal weather conditions for the ten-race card. No rain is expected with afternoon temperatures in the low 60’s.
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. SHRP offers a variety of attractions including 16 recently renovated luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options int the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
Photo of Midnight Bisou: Jack Coady/ Coady Photography