SCARLET FUSION DEFEATS TWO PREVIOUS CHAMPIONS IN THE GRADE 3, $200,000 JOHN B. CONNALLY TURF CUP AT SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK
Andthewinneris Captures the $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile
HOUSTON, TX- There were some anxious moments Saturday morning at Sam Houston Race Park when the rain fell heavily . The Houston Racing Festival had two quality turf stakes to be run on the Connally Turf Course. Officials took the fourth race off the turf and fortunately, both the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup and $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile remained on the turf.
Scarlet Fusion Denies Two Previous John B. Connally Turf Cup Champions
The Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup always draws an exceptional field of turf specialists looking for an opportunity to compete in the mile and one-half feature. Two previous champions made their return: NBS Stable’s Spooky Channel who won the 2021 edition of the race and 2022 winner, Team Block’s Another Mystery. Both ran admirably and as they rounded the final turn, it looked as though they would battle it out for the repeat. However, Scarlet Fusion, a 5-year-old son of Curlin, racing for prominent Texas owners Brad Grady and Carl Moore Management, LLC, spoiled their bids with a well-timed finish by jockey Adam Beschizza. He caught the duo heading down the lane, and drew clear by a margin of 1 ¾ lengths. His final time, over the soft turf was 2.33.50.
“He did it very nicely,” said Beschizza. “He’s run this distance before. The leaders set an honest pace and I felt that we had plenty left closing for home.”
Trainer Joe Sharp saddled the handsome chestnut and accepted his first Connally trophy.
“Happy to win my first; my wife (jockey Rosie Napravnik) is well decorated in this race,” said Sharp. “Adam did a great job and Carl and Brad had a lot of confidence since buying him in the mixed sale last April. This horse keeps getting better and he obviously did everything we asked.”
It was a big night for breeder Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, LLC, who bred Scarlet Fusion and Pauline’s Pearl, who defended her title in the Grade 3, Houston Ladies Classic.
Another Mystery finished second under rider Jareth Loveberry. It was the third time that the talented Illinois-bred competed in the Connally. Trainer Chris Block admitted that Another Mystery preferred a firm turf course, was pleased with the effort of the 7-year-old son of Temple City.
“He ran huge; I am really proud of him,” said Block. “He was handling the soft turf and when he put away Spooky Channel, I thought we were home free. It was a tough beat, but I hope we can come back next year.”
Spooky Channel with James Graham in the irons for trainer Jason Barkley, ran third. Risk Manager, US Navy Cross, Seductive USA Portos, Devamani and Logical Myth completed the field.
Scarlet Fusion ($9.80) improved his record to 20-4-4-7 with earnings of $427,918.
Due to the Equine Herpesvirus (EHV) positive at Gulfstream Park reported on January 21, Sam Houston Race Park restricted horses from shipping in from Florida until further notice. Unfortunately, resulted in the scratch of the three Mike Maker trainees: Bemma’s Boy, Kineos and Bay Street Money entered in the John B. Connally Turf Cup as well as Worthington in the Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile.
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.
Andthewinneris Tops Six Rivals in the $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile
Susan Moulton’s homebred Andthewinneris made a very successful debut in Houston in the $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile.
The son of Oscar Performance won the Grade 2, Bourbon last October at Keeneland for trainer Wayne Catalano. Bred in Kentucky, he also competed in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf before finishing his 2-year-old season in the $100,000 Gun Runner at Fair Grounds.
“I wasn’t too worried about the softer turf,” said Catalano. “Susan lives in Houston so we thought this would be a good stakes for the colt and his second time going two turns. He ran a good race.”
Corey Lanerie had the call and let his colt settle off the pace in the early stages of the race. He responded well heading into the far turn, rallying and finishing a head in front of the favorite, Private Creed, who had never missed a check in five turf races for owner Mike McCarthy. Andthewinneris ($6.60) covered the mile over the soft turf in 1:39.47.
“It’s always good to come back here and nice that the fans remember me,” said Lanerie. “I rode this horse at Fair Grounds and felt he would be a good turf horse.”
Moulton was pleased to reunite with Lanerie, reminding him that he rode her first winner when he was an apprentice.
“We’re looking at Saratoga next summer for his next start,” she said. “We tried him on the dirt, but he’s more suited to the turf. He’s out of a Scat Daddy mare and am so pleased with his sire, Oscar Performance.”
Private Creed was ridden by two-time Sam Houston leading jockey Stewart Elliott and trained by Steve Asmussen. Winters Lion ran third under Adam Beschizza, followed by Mazing Mark, Send the Boss, Alto Road and early pacesetter Three on the Tree. Worthington, who is currently stabled at Gulfstream Park, was scratched.
The Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile is named in honor of the late president of Sam Houston Race Park. His daughter. Dena and son, Dan Bork, who serves as assistant racing secretary/stakes coordinator at Churchill Downs and racing secretary at Ellis Park, were in Houston to make the trophy presentation.
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 Entertainment 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