Zia Park Oaks champion Unusual Way leads a field of eight fillies in the second running of the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic on Saturday at Sam Houston Race Park.

Unusual Way, who captured the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks on November 27 for trainer Jeff Bonde, will be one of the top contenders in the mile and one-sixteenth main track feature.

Trainer Michael Maker will send out Awesome Flower who ran third in the Grade 2 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs and made her last start in the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap at Calder Race Course on December 7.

And Why Not will ship from Florida for trainer Michael Matz. The 5-year-old mare, owned by Texan and TTA Lifetime Member Helen Groves, ran fourth to Princess of Sylmar in the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational last September at Belmont Park.

Florida based Rose to Gold, who won both the Grade 3 Honeybee and Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park, punching her ticket to the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks last May at Churchill Downs, runs for trainer Sal Santoro.

Trainer Ron Faucheux will saddle Class Included for owner Brittlyn Stable. The 6-year-old mare has earned $552,156 and has run in several top graded stakes, including the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. She won her last two stakes, the Treasure Chest at Delta Downs and the Blushing K. D. Handicap over the Fair Grounds turf course last month.

The remainder of the field includes Dixiana Farms LLC Moon Philly, who has won multiple stakes at Delaware Park and Laurel for trainer Ben Colebook.  Eric Reed saddles the Tapit filly Phonybooksnrecords, owned by Jerry Jamgotchian. Owner Hugh Moore and trainer Joyce Salisbury have the final contender in the field in the Kitten’s Joy filly Do You Like Me Now.

“We are very proud of the quality field in the Houston Ladies Classic,” said Eric Johnston, Sam Houston Race Park’s vice-president of racing. “Each of our four stakes for Saturday drew competitive fields with nationally prominent horses and racing connections.”

The Houston Ladies Classic will be the first stakes of the inaugural Penn Gaming Racing Challenge. The national program will incorporate over 20 stakes races in 2014 worth over $5.5 million.

In a partnership announced earlier this month, HRTV will broadcast a two-hour special beginning at 9:00 pm (CT) from SHRP on Saturday.

In honor of the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, Sam Houston Race Park has again joined forces with the Houston affiliate of the Susan G. Komen ® and will donate $1 for each patron to benefit the esteemed charity.

Patrons can also show their support for the fight against breast cancer by entering the “Think Pink Hat Contest”, presented by Cadence Bank. Registration will begin at 6:00 p.m. on the Club Level of the Grandstand. The judging will take place at 8:30 p.m. and the winner will receive $500.

A top quality group of turf specialists will compete in the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup, carded as the 8th race. Trainer Michael Maker will ship in 2-1 favorite Admiral Kitten, and King David, who was the runner-up in last year’s edition of the mile-and-one-eighth turf contest.

Trainer Michael Matz, who sent in And Why Not for the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, ships in the Ramona Bass homebred Fredericksburg for the Connally.

Vertiformer, owned by Joseph Allen, arrived from Florida for noted turf trainer Christophe Clement. The Connally Turf Cup was awarded Grade 3 status in 2006, the first Thoroughbred graded stakes since Sam Houston Race Park opened in 1994. Previous champions include Chorwon, Fort Prado, Rod and Staff and Candid Glen, who won the stakes a record three times.

The complete field is from the rail with riders: Vertiformer, Joe Bravo; Cajun Don, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez; Marine Patrol, Shaun Bridgmohan; King David, Rosie Napravnik; Admiral Kitten, Julien Leparoux; Arthur’s Court, Junior Chacaltana; Michael’s Gabriel, Iram Diego and Fredericksburg, Luis Saez.

Sum of the Parts, trained by Tom Amoss, is the 3-1 morning line choice in the $75,000 Champion Energy Services Stakes. Steve Asmussen will send out Millennium Farms Great Mills, winner of the Champion Energy Services Stakes in 2012.

Top sprinter Force Freeze will make his first start since February 2012 for new connections of Eric and Randi Moreau-Sipiere and trainer Jerenesto Torrez.

The complete field for the Champion Energy Services from the rail with riders: Force Freeze, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez; Bounding Bi, Luis Saez; Artest, Julien Leparoux; Ishararuler, Glen Murphy; Great Mills, Deshawn Parker; Flat Back, Fabio Arguello, Jr.; Sum Of The Parts, Rosie Napravnik; Hogy, Chris Emigh and Perfect Parker, Edwin Maldonado.

The Committee will meet on Tuesday, January 28 in Austin to accept comments in response to a proposal to amend Rule 313.103, Eligibility Requirements, and to discuss requests for rule amendments pertaining to Rule 311.2, Application Procedure; Rule 313.110, Coupled Entries; Rule 321.505, Allocation of Purses and Funds for Texas Bred Incentive Programs; and Rule 321.509, Escrowed Horse Purse Account.

For more information, see

All TTA members are invited to join us at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday, February 15th for an evening of fine dining and live racing, featuring the Two Altazano and the Jim’s Orbit divisions of the Texas Stallion Stakes, both with purses of $75,000, along with the $50,000 Jersey Village Stakes.

A special section of the Winner’s Circle Restaurant will be reserved for TTA members and their guests to enjoy the Chophouse Buffet Package, which includes an elaborate buffet featuring a salad bar, multiple grilled entrees accompanied by an assortment of toppings, a chicken entree, the vegetable of the day, and a mashed potato bar.  Desserts include an ice cream bar and pastry station.  Your $28 package includes admission and a racing program.

Copy and paste the entire link (below) into your browser to make reservations, no later than midnight on February 14th:

Also, TTA members in attendance will be entered into a prize drawing, to take place in the Winner’s Circle between divisions of the Texas Stallion Stakes and members must be present to win.

As you prepare for breeding season, please note that it is extremely important for any mare to be in optimal health before breeding.  Among other things, this means getting an updated Coggins test and all annual vaccinations, along with wormings, having her feet trimmed and addressing any dental issues.  Copies of all health records should be provided to the stallion manager.

There are a number of good informational resources available, including articles entitled Pre-Breeding Management of the Mare (Feb. 12, 2011); Proper Nutrition for the Broodmare (Nov. 12, 2011); and Feeding the Estrous Cycle (Jan. 28, 2012) available for free download through The Blood-Horse at

The Elite Program, Inc.’s Groom Elite Certification School is conducting a 3-day Teacher/Volunteer/Staff Certification and Information workshop January 28-30 in Louisiana.

To see a complete outline and to register for the workshop go to or call Northshore CC at 225-222-4251 or Dr.Reid McLellan at 859-321-4377.

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) will hold a two-day Thoroughbred Pedigree and Conformation Clinic March 7-8 in Ocala. The clinic, sponsored by Blood-Horse Publications, will feature conformation presentations, live evaluations, and pedigree discussions. The agenda is available at

The Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association (CBA) will hold an educational seminar Feb. 4 at the Keeneland sales pavilion.

A wide variety of topics will be covered during the seminar, which will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., including a discussion on angular and flexural deformities, the reasons to scope yearlings, and what findings are significant in radiographs.  Complete information may be found at

NOTES: Our sympathies to the family of TTA member Dr. Kamal Sheena of Houston, who passed away January 10th…Be sure to check out the Horse Racing – Texas Style Facebook page, designed to be a non-controversial supporter of horse racing in Texas (both TB & QH) to promote interest in the racing industry…The next regular meeting of the TTA Board of Directors will be at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 28 in Austin…Mark your calendar and plan to attend “TTA Night at the Races” on Saturday, February 15th .