ATB’S IN WEEKEND STAKES
Durocher (Niagara Causeway – Trench Cat) is in a field of 9 for Saturday’s $200,000 W. L. McKnight Handicap (GR 3) for 4-year-olds and up going 1 mile and a half on the turf at Gulfstream Park. Bred by La Bahia Stud, Inc., he runs for owners Sterling Racing LLC, John Herzberg and Michelle Allan.
SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK TO HOST TEXAS CHAMPIONS STAKES THIS WEEKEND
Sam Houston Race Park will salute accredited Texas-breds this weekend, with four Texas Champions Stakes on Saturday and two on Sunday.
On Saturday, a contentious field of ten will compete in the $50,000 Richard King Stakes, for 4-year-olds and up at a mile and one-eighth on the Connally Turf Course. It is carded as the 5th race.
Macassar Corporation’s homebred multiple stakes winner Can’t Be Wrong, a 5-year-old son of Broken Vow, will be looking to repeat his victory in the 2017 edition of the race, which was run on the main track due to heavy rain. He has 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 is the 5-2 favorite.
Larry Stroope will saddle 4-1 Bonjour Baby, a 5-year-old gelding by Sing Baby Sing for owner Alvin Wong. Bonjour Baby was bred by Tom Durant.
Trained by Jerenesto Torrez, Jose Luis Espinoza’s homebred multiple stakes placed Moojab Jr is listed at 9-2.
Multiple stakes placed Mav Master (Mizzen Mast), owned by Hal Browning and trained by Kari Craddock, was the runner-up last year in the Richard King. Paul Duhon will send out stakes placed P Millers Clock (Etesaal) who ran third in the 2017 Richard King. Bred by Bradford Thoroughbred Farm, he is owned by Isaac Duhon.
Owned by Terry Eoff and Johnny Evans, 7-year-old graded stakes placed F J Uncle Vic (Uncle Abbie) is a multiple-stakes winner who will make his 52nd career start. Completing the field are Gottherightonebaby (Sing Baby Sing), Valen Forever (Curandero), Special Praise (River Squall), and Tap That Word (Tapit).
Seven fillies and mares will be featured in the 6-furlong $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes with 2017 winner Zippit E (5-1) seeking her third career stakes win. Bred and owned by Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch, the daughter of My Golden Song is trained by Bret Calhoun. Calhoun has also entered Douglas Scharbauer’s homebred Archer City (8-5), who won last year’s Two Altazano Stakes.
The field includes four mares sired by Too Much Bling, including stakes winner and 2-1 favorite Prada’s Bling. Bred by Hall’s Family Trust, Prada’s Bling now runs for Adriel Gonzalez and is trained by Isai V. Gonzalez.
Completing the field are My Goldens a Honey (My Golden Song) and three mares sired by Too Much Bling: Ruby Rumba, Prada Has Bling and Deeya’s Bling.
Calhoun has two solid sprinters in the six-furlong $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes. Victoria Ashford’s homebred multiple stakes winner Bravura (Early Flyer) is the defending champion with odds of 8-5 and the 6-5 favorite is multiple stakes winner Supermason (Grasshopper), owned by Brad Grady.
Bravura 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 and winning the Spirit of Texas last year. 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 won the 2015 Jim’s Orbit, and ran third in the 2017 Spirit of Texas.
Ray Bustmante will saddle David L. Davis’ homebred multiple stakes winner 15-1 A M Milky Way (Elusive Bluff), who won the Spirit of Texas in 2016 as well as the 2015 Groovy Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.
Also at 15-1 is multiple stakes winner Rumpole (Too Much Bling), bred and owned by Joe Archer of Fletcher Properties Inc., returning to stakes action following his victory in last year’s $50,000 Groovy Stakes. Rumpole also won the Stymie division of the Texas Stallion Stakes last May at Lone Star Park.
Flurry Racing Stables may run stakes winner Imma Bling (Too Much Bling), bred by Hall’s Family Trust, 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.
Completing the field are stakes winner Reflector (Ready’s Image), bred by John T. L. Jones Jr. and trained by Danny Pish for GFB Racing LLC, and Henry Witt’s stakes placed Witt’sdollarnight (Mr. Nightlinger), bred by Jerry Chapman and trained by Terry Eoff.
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.
Trained by Terry Eoff, the 5-2 favorite is Henry Witt’s homebred Witt’s Town (Drums of Thunder). She has won four of her eight turf starts and placed fourth in the 2017 Fiesta Mile.
Several of the San Jacinto entrants competed in the $50,000 Fiesta Mile at Retama Park on October 21. Mindy Willis trained the winner of that stake, Special Rockstar, bred and owned by Star Bright Thoroughbreds. The 6-year-old mare by Special Rate has won seven of her 31 career starts and has odds of 3-1.
Jerry Durant and Bill Jordan’s 5-1 stakes placed Shezadoll (Early Flyer), trained by Danny Pish, ran second to Special Rockstar. Pish will also saddle stakes placed San Antonio Stroll (Stroll) for Cliff and Michelle Love.
Dallas Keen will send out 9-2 multiple stakes placed Dagny (Scrimshaw) for breeders Mike and Karin Danapas who now race her in partnership with Lonnie Bates.
Completing the field are Jose Luis Espinoza’s homebred Sexy Dance (Voyagers Quest), Sandra Montgomery and Joanne Schapiro’s Alpha Sue (Grasshopper), Charles Bradley Douglas’ homebred multiple stakes placed Easter Ellie (My Golden Song), Stephen Fidel’s I’m Indy Havin Fun (Indygo Mountain), and Century Acres Farm’s homebred Soul Affair (Grasshopper).
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 card includes the $50,000 Groovy Stakes (race 5); the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint (race 6); the $50,000 Bara Lass (race 7); the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf (G3) (race 8), the G3 $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic (race 9); and the $50,000 Houston Distaff (race 10).
There is a field of 10 for the Groovy Stakes for 3-year-old Accredited Texas-breds going 6 furlongs led by 1-1 favorite Direct Dial (Too Much Bling), a homebred stakes winner for W. S. Farish that is trained by Steve Asmussen. Direct Dial won the $65,000 My Dandy division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park on November 4th and was second in the $150,000 Tremont Stakes at Belmont on June 19th.
Allen Dupuy will send out James Wessel’s homebred stakes winner Redatory (Oratory) who won the $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington back in November by 2 ¼ lengths. He has been given odds of 3-1.
Completing the field are Tristan’s Dream (Eldon’s Effort); Toledo Pache (Littleexpectations); Royal Reality (Jersey Town); Gold Label (My Golden Song); Silver Luke Silver (Too Much Bling); Eyes on Red (Contemporary); Swift Shock (My Golden Song); and Hudson’s Hunt (Silver City).
The 1-2 favorite for the Bara Lass Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going 6 furlongs is Will Kari’s stakes winner She’s Pretty Lucky (Lookin at Lucky). She was a $42,000 RNA at the 2016 Texas Yearling and Mixed Sale and has now earned $61,542 from three starts. The filly is coming off a December 7 win in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Bret Calhoun will saddle stakes winner Howboutthiscowgirl (My Golden Song) for owner/breeder Douglas Scharbauer. The winner of the $65,000 Darby’s Daughter division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama on November 4th has been given odds of 5-2.
Rounding out the field are Light Up the Devil (Light Up the Score); Exoteric Melody (Advanceexpectation); Red Dress (Too Much Bling); Silver’s Swan Song (My Golden Song); and Dees Loca Motion (Bullet Train (GB)).
It will be a monumental week for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, who is in South Florida for the Eclipse Awards and to saddle Gun Runner in Saturday’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. He has entered Winchell Thoroughbred LLC’s Adore in the Houston Ladies Classic. The 5-year-old mare sired by Big Brown, is stakes-placed with career earnings of $240,146. Asmussen has been honored as leading trainer in Houston nine times; Iram Diego, who has topped the local rider standings for the past two years, will ride Adore.
“We wanted to be represented and support Sam Houston Race Park,” said Asmussen. “Maybe even create some Houston magic! It’s a very good field and she will have to run the race of her life, but we’re proud to be part of it.”
In the Connally Turf Cup, Asmussen has Paternal Pride, a Kentucky-bred for H. V. Farms, Ltd., and Brent Davidson is listed as the trainer for Richard Drake’s West Road.