Gulfstream Park Horses Will Be Restricted from Shipping to Sam Houston Race Park Due to EHV Outbreak on January 21

HOUSTON, TX- While many racing fans might be focused on the two graded stakes headlining Saturday’s Houston Racing Festival card at Sam Houston Race Park, the three additional undercard stakes will add plenty of excitement to the day! The January 28 live Thoroughbred program begins at1:00 pm (CT) with a very promising forecast of clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60’s for the marquee racing event.

However, there is one development announced today. Due to the Equine Herpesvirus (EHV)positive at Gulfstream Park reported on January 21, Sam Houston Race Park will restrict horses from shipping in from Florida until further notice. Unfortunately, this will affect Bemma’s BoyKineosand Bay Street Money entered in the John B. Connally Turf Cup as well as Worthington in the Bob Bork Texas Turf  Mile as all four are currently stabled at Gulfstream.

The Connally Turf course will be featured in the $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile. Formerly the Texas Turf Mile for 3 year-olds, the stakes was renamed in honor of Robert L. Bork, Sam Houston Race Park past president, who made a tremendous impact on the racing industry, nationally and in Houston. The respected executive passed away on June 11, 2021 at the age of 83.

Dan Bork, who serves as assistant racing secretary/stakes coordinator at Churchill Downs and racing secretary at Ellis Park, as well as other members of the Bork family, will make the trophy presentation.

Private Creed Leads the Field in the $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile

A field of seven will enter the starting gate for this one-mile feature for 3-year-olds on the Connally Turf Course.

Susan Moulton’s homebred Andthewinneris, winner of the Grade 2, Bourbon last October at Keeneland will make his Sam Houston Race Park debut for trainer Wayne Catalano. Bred in Kentucky, the colt by Oscar Performance 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. He ran fifth in the mile and one-sixteenth main track feature.

“I tried him on the dirt, but know he is much more suited to the turf,” explained Catalano. “Susan lives in Houston so we thought this would be a good stakes for the colt.”

Corey Lanerie has the call aboard the 5-2 entrant, who drew post position five. He will face several accomplished rivals, including Private Creed,  who has never missed a check in five turf races for ownerMike McCarthy. The son of Jimmy Creed is the high earner in the field with $599,313 since winning his debut last July at Ellis Park. Two-time Sam Houston leading jockey Stewart Elliott has the call. 

Send the Boss and Alto Road are making their first starts on the grass, so one longshot to consider might be

Three on the Tree, who is light on stakes experience, but has a turf win at Remington Park and prepped for the Bob Bork with a four-length victory on the Connally Turf Course here on January 21.  Jockey Gerardo Mora will pilot the gelding by Accelerate for trainer Danny Pish and owners Kevin Knuckley, Ben Henderson and Pat Heinsen. Worthington, who is currently stabled at Gulfstream Park, will not run.

The Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile will run as the eighth race on the card with an approximate post time of 4:55 pm (CT). The field, from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds is as follows: Mazing Mark,Juan Vargas, 20-1; Send the Boss, Jose Alvarez, 15-1; Winters Lion, Adam Beschizza, 8-1; Andthewinneris, Corey Lanerie, 5-2; Private Creed,  Stewart Elliott,8-5; Alto Road,Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez, 12-1 and Three on the Tree, Gerardo Mora, 30-1.

Competitive Group of Fillies Entered in the $100,000 Bara Lass

The first stakes of the Houston Racing Festival will be the $100,000 Bara Lass for Texas-bred 3-year-old fillies. Twelve fillies will compete six furlongs in the sixth race.

Douglas Scharbauer’s Fast Track has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite. Sired by Fast Anna, she made two starts last July at Lone Star Park for trainer Steve Asmussen. Her four furlong bullet work of :47.20 (fastest of 49) here on January 20, signals her fitness off the layoff.  Stewart Elliott will ride.

Trainer Carlos Padilla will saddle two entrants: Stelliot’s Legacy, who made her debut here on January 7, clinching first stakes score in the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter. Real Tap, owned by Padilla’s father, Carlos, is a daughter of Tapwrit, who will make her third start on Saturday.

Jockey Gerardo Mora has the return call on Stelliot’s Legacy, bred by Ronni Blaustein and Roslyn Eisenstark. The filly by Bradester out of the Invasor mare Sugarfoot Angel is owned by John A. Monday, Rodney Fleenor and Lynn Haverkamp.  Weston Hamilton will ride Real Tap, who will break from the rail.

“Stelliot’s Legacy is a very fast filly and ran a huge race in the Darby’s Daughter,” explained Padilla. “She was pretty exhausted afterwards, but breezed well last week. I believe in her, but she will have a challenge with this full field. Our other runner, Real Tap won her debut, but faced the boys in her most recent start at Remington Park. She’s a small filly, but has filled out nicely over the last few months.” 

Billy Clevenger’s Izatiz, who finished second in the Darby’s Daughter, will return for trainer David Gomez. Reylu Gutierrez will ride the daughter of My Golden Song.

The field, from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds is as follows: Real Tap, Weston Hamilton, 30-1; Starteca, Jose Alvarez, 20-1; More Than Shakin, John Jude, 30-1; Blushing Bella, Iram Diego, 9-2; Texas Twinkies, Sahin Civaci, 30-1; Sky Tizzy,  Charle Oliveros,15-1; Stelliot’s Legacy,Gerardo Mora, 10-1; Salt N Lime, Kendrick Carmouche, 6-1; Waving Bye,  Jansen Melancon, 8-1; Fast Track, Stewart Elliott, 3-1; Bubbles and Bling, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez, 8-1 and Izatiz, Reylu Gutierrez, 5-1.

Bling Bling Bling Takes on Eleven Rivals in the $100,000 Gexa Energy Groovy Stakes

A full field of Texas-bred colts and geldings will enter the starting gate for the $100,000 Gexa Energy Groovy Stakes, also to be run at six furlongs on the main track.

Bling Bling Bling returns off a three-length victory in the $75,000 My Dandy here on January 7. Stewart Elliott has the return call aboard the son of Too Much Bling out of the Golden Song mare Swifterthantaylor.

Bred by Douglas Scharbauer, and owned by William and Corinne Heiligbrodt, the bay colt won the $81,000 TTA Stallion Series -Staunch Avenger on June 19 at Lone Star Park and was given some time off after finishing fifth in the $150,000 Texas Thoroughbred Futurity one month later. 

Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen is hopeful that Bling Bling Bling can capture the third stakes of his career on Saturday afternoon.

“He’s a nice, talented horse,” he said. “I am a little concerned with the short turnaround following the long layoff.”

Asmussen will depend on longtime assistant Darren Fleming to saddle his Sam Houston Race Park runners on Saturday as he will be at Oaklawn Park, with Gunite running in the King Cotton Stakes and Red Route One in the Grade 3, Southwest Stakes.

Lil Sweet Thang,who competed in both the Clever Trevor and Springboard Mile at Remington Park, is a notable contender for owner Dan W. McGough.   Donnie K. Von Hemel  trains the son of Caleb’s Posse with 

Reylu Gutierrez aboard the 7-2 favorite. Tyree J. Wolesensky’s  Guitar Boy ships in from Zia Park with trainer H. Ray Ashford, Jr. giving  a leg up to jockey Leandro Goncalves.

The Gexa Energy Groovy will run as race seven. The field, from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds is as follows: J F’s Senna, Gerardo Mora, 8-1; Hard Gold, Lane Luzzi, 15-1; I’m a Cowboy, Alfredo Contreras, 20-1; Bling Bling Bling, Stewart Elliott, 6-1; Just Whiskey, Jansen Melancon, 15-1; My Favorite Song,  Weston Hamilton,20-1; Lil Sweet Thang,Reylu Gutierrez, 7-2; Mor Victory, Charle Oliveros, 30-1; Village Way,  James Graham, 8-1; Vietnam Victory, Jose Alvarez, 9-2;  Guitar Boy, Leandro Goncalves, 4-1 and My Boy Bling, Freddy Manrrique, 15-1.

As previously announced, the eleventh renewal of the Grade 3, $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic will run as the ninth race, with an approximate post time of 5:25 pm (CT). Defending champion Pauline’s Pearl leads the field in the mile and one-sixteenth main track feature.

The Houston Racing Festival card will conclude with a full field of turf specialists competing in the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf  Cup. Previous winners Spooky Channel and Another Mystery are two of the top contenders in the mile and one-half turf stakes.

Houston Racing Festival News and Notes 

Admission for Saturday’s live racing card is just $5.00. Gates open at 9:00 am and in addition to the entire Sam Houston Race Park program, which begins at 1:00 pm, fans can watch and wager on tracks across the country, including the Pegasus World Cup from Gulfstream Park. The live feed of  the entire Houston Racing Festival card will be available free of charge on shrp.com.  There will be a mandatory payout on the Space City Pick 6 wager.

Two seats to the prestigious National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas will be awarded, with the winner’s choice to compete in the 2023 NHC Contest, March 10-12 or the 2024 final. For rules and additional information, click here.

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 theJockey Club.  For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visitwww.shrp.com.