News and Notes for January 29, 2016

HOUSTON RACING FESTIVAL
Four stakes are on tap for Saturday’s Houston Racing Festival at Sam Houston Race Park, highlighted by the Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic and the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup and including the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint and the $50,000 Space City Stakes.

The first running of the Houston Ladies Classic in 2013 was formed to serve as the marquee race for the Sam Houston Thoroughbred racing season. The mile and one-sixteenth stakes was awarded its graded status by the American Graded Stakes Committee in December, and remains the richest Thoroughbred race in Texas.

The complete field, in post-position order is: 3-1 Unbridled Forever; 15-1 Rose To Glory; 4-1 Cassatt; 8-1 Diva’s Diamond; 9-2 Theogony; 5-1 Cali Star; and 10-1 Welcome Aboard. Diva’s Diamond is a 7-year-old multiple-stakes winner owned by Jerry Namy and trained by Karl Broberg. She has bankrolled $739,608 in her career, winning 11 races and ran in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland. Broberg tabbed veteran rider Patrick Valenzuela to pilot the Illinois-bred daughter of Crafty Shaw. Valenzuela rode A M Milky Way to victory for Broberg in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes.     

The Connally Turf Cup was awarded Grade 3 status in 2006, the first Thoroughbred graded stakes at Sam Houston Race Park. Previous champions include Chorwon, Fort Prado, Rod and Staff and Candid Glen, who won the stakes a record three times.

This year’s contest of the Connally will be the first year that the stakes will be run at a distance of a mile and one-half, and boasts a full field of 12.

Trainer Michael Maker won the graded turf contest last year with Coalport; Admiral Kitten in 2014 and with Papaw Bodie in 2012.  The nationally prominent horseman hopes to make it four victories with this year’s 4-1 entrant, Skychal Racing LLC’s Da Big Hoss. Trainer Mark Casse ships in 3-1 favorite Kaigun

The field includes 8-1 Mobile Bay, 8-1 Wireless Future, 8-1 Knight’s Nation, 6-1 Big John B, 15-1 Pumpkin Rumble, 10-1 Bullards Alley, 6-1 Going Somewhere, 10-1 Dac, 15-1 Birdsone and 20-1 Accredited Texas-bred Witt Six (Drums of Thunder – Taitt Hill). The Henry Witt homebred has a career record of 22-5-4-5 with $137,901 in earnings.

The $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint boasts a quality field of 10 entrants. Tom Amoss has sent in winners in the last two years of this five-furlong turf stakes with Sum of the Parts in 2014 and Heitai, who blazed to victory last year. This year Amoss has high hopes for Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc’s Galton, who has been made the 3-1 choice.

One of the other outstanding runners is Marchman, owned by Martin Racing and trained by Bret Calhoun. Completing the field are Accredited Texas-breds Meme Jo (Too Much Bling – Honey Gold) and Martys Wimbledon (Wimbledon – Martys Expectation), along with Holiday Mischief, D’Cajun Cat, Perfect to Please, Brilliant Interest, Billy Two Hats, and First Prize Yankee.

Eight 3-year-olds will compete in the $50,000 Space City Stakes. Accredited Texas-bred Sugar Bowl Stakes winner Taylors Angiel (Private Vow – Itisi) is the 5-2 favorite.  The David L. Davis homebred will be saddled by Karl Broberg.,

Lift Me Up, Messer Mad Cat, He’s a Ranger, Iron Dome, Riding in the Wind, Mud Light and Twirling Cinnamon complete the field.

IVAN FALLUNOVALOT IN KING COTTON
Accredited Texas-bred Ivanfallunovalot (Valid Expectations – Flashdance Missy) is the 2-1 favorite in the field of eight for Saturday’s $100,000 King Cotton Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The graded stakes-placed 6-year-old gelding bred by Eileen Hartis runs for owner Lewis E. Mathews Jr.

KENTUCKY DERBY NOMINEES
Accredited Texas-bred Giant Trick (Neko Bay – Subterfuge), bred by Eureka Thoroughbred Farm, is on the list of nominees for the 2016 Kentucky Derby. Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg conditions the colt for owner Jerry Caroom.

JOHN ROARK PASSES AWAY
We offer our condolences to the family of John Roark, who passed away on January 23rd.  A Lifetime TTA member, John was a founding member and president of the Texas Thoroughbred HBPA, chairman of the Texas Horsemen’s Partnership, and served five years as president and chairman of the board of directors of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA). In addition, he served on the board of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), and was co-chairman of NTRA Charities. A funeral service will be held at First United Methodist Church, 102 North 2nd Street, Temple, Texas 76501, at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 30, 2016. The service will be followed by a reception in the Family Life Center that will include a slide show and an opportunity for people to share stories about John. There will not be visitation prior to the funeral service.

HORSEMEN’S TO-DO LIST
Send in your letter of opposition to repealing Historical Racing rules
– Email, fax and snail mail letters will be accepted until February 1st and can be sent via email to info@txrc.texas.gov or fax to (512) 833-6907.You may also use the following link to log in and send your message: http://www.savetexashorses.com/.

Remember to support the THP Legal Fund  – Simply mail a check to: Texas Horsemen’s Partnership at P.O. Box 142533 Austin, TX 78714 (checks should be made payable to the THP and ‘legal fund’ should be included in the memo line). Or you may contribute by phone – call (512) 467-9799 to ask for a donation to be made from your Horsemen’s Bookkeeper account. You may also use the GoFundMe Page at https://www.gofundme.com/k9zvu5qc.

Check out the TTA online auction of 2016 stallion breedings at http://texasthoroughbred.com/stallion-register/online-stallion-auction/.  Proceeds from some of these seasons will go to benefit the THP Legal Fund.

Do your homework and vote in the March primaries – We urge you to contact each candidate in your House and Senate District and vote for the candidates you believe will support the Texas horse industry. For more information, go to http://texasthoroughbred.com/vote-in-the-texas-primaries/ .  Early voting begins February 16th.

February 1 Deadline for Payment of 2016 Stallion Administrative Fees

February 15 Deadline for Receipt of Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund Scholarship Applications

February 15 Deadline for Payment of $300 Sustaining Payment in the 2016 Texas Thoroughbred Futurity