News and Notes for January 27, 2017

Sam Houston Race Park will proudly present its Houston Racing Festival on Sunday, January 29 at a special post time of 12 pm (Central).

Now in its fifth running, the Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic anchors the Houston Racing Festival, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint, the $50,000 Houston Distaff and the $50,000 Space City Stakes.

This year’s edition of the Houston Ladies Classic enticed several new owners, trainers and jockeys as well as a very familiar horseman: Larry Jones. The affable Kentuckian is hopeful that I’m a Chatterbox will be his third champion in the mile and one-sixteenth main track feature. 

Jones has won two editions of the Houston Ladies Classic with two Fox Hill Farms, Inc. homebreds; first with Joyful Victory in its inaugural running in 2013, and then with Cassatt in 2015. Jones, 60, whose list of racing champions includes 2011 Horse of the Year, Havre de Grace, has been a strong supporter of Sam Houston Race Park.

“Sam Houston’s track surface has always been kind to us,” added Jones. “Our horses run well there and come back with no issues.”

Family Tree, a 4-year-old Smart Strike filly owned by Gary and Mary West and trained by Wayne Catalano, will break beside I’m a Chatterbox on Sunday afternoon.

Seven-time Eclipse Award winning conditioner Todd Pletcher will send in Red Oak Stable’s Unbridled Mo. The 4-year-old filly by Uncle Mo had her five-race win streak snapped last November in the Grade 3, $250,000 Comely at Aqueduct.

The field also includes Gainsway Stable’s Danzatrice, who won the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen; Iowa Stallion Stakes winner, Another Bond Girl, the local hopeful for the Brent Davidson barn at Sam Houston Race Park and Wes Hawley’s Steel Cut, a 6-year-old Cactus Ridge mare who was victorious in the Oklahoma Classic Distaff at Remington Park on October 21. Many will be rooting for Tiffany Case, and trainer Eric Reed, who certainly deserves good fortune in 2017. Reed’s Mercury Equine Center in Lexington, Kentucky, was devastated by a fire on December 18, which took the lives of 23 horses.

The first running of the Houston Ladies Classic in 2013 was formed to serve as the marquee race for Sam Houston Race Park’s Thoroughbred racing season. It was awarded its graded status by the American Graded Stakes Committee in December, 2015 and remains the richest Thoroughbred race in Texas. The Houston Ladies Classic will be the first stakes of the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge.

“In just its fifth running, and second year as a graded stakes, the Houston Ladies Classic has attracted an impressive group of fillies and mares,” said Matt Crawford, Sam Houston Race Park’s racing secretary. “We look forward to presenting a quality day of racing and getting the Penn Gaming Challenge off to a great start.”

The Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, will be run at the distance of one and one-half miles for the second year in a row. Trainer Michael Maker has won four of the last five editions of the Connally with Papa Bodie in 2012; Admiral Kitten in 2014; Coalport in 2015 and last year’s running with Skychai Racing LLC’s Da Big Hoss. He will make the trip to Houston on Sunday and saddle three of the nine turf specialists in this year’s field. Michael M. Hui’s Greengrassofyoming ran fourth in the Grade 3, Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs and followed that with a victory in the Grade 3, Sycamore at Keeneland. The 7-year-old son of Quest is closing in on the half-million earnings mark and will be guided by Robby Albarado from post position five. Albarado celebrated his 5,000th career win last weekend at Fair Grounds and piloted three previous Connally champions: Rod and Staff (2000); Fort Prado (2006) and Acting Zippy (2010). Maker has named Jose Ortiz to ride Bigger Picture for Three Diamonds Farm and Florent Geroux on Sarah and Kenneth Ramsey’s Oscar Nominated, a 4-year-old son of top turf sire, Kitten’s Joy.

The field for the Connally Turf Cup, from the rail: Dominkate, Rohan Singh; West Road, Paul Nolan; Hay Dakota, Denny Velazquez; Bigger Picture, Jose Ortiz; Greengrassofyoming; Robby Albarado; Phantom Trip, David Cabrera; Fall of Troy, Jacob Radosevich and Oscar Nominated, Florent Geroux.

The first of the five stakes, the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint, will run as race 6, followed by the $50,000 Space City Stakes, the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, the Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic and the $50,000 Houston Distaff. There will be two special wagers: an All Stakes Pick 5 and All Stakes Pick 4 on the featured events.

Sam Houston Race Park is proud to announce that proceeds from the Houston Racing Festival will benefit the American Heart Association (AHA). Sam Houston Race Park will donate $1 for each paid admission on January 29.

Eurodevilwoman (Euroears – The Devil is Mine) will compete in Saturday’s $125,000 American Beauty Stakes for fillies and mares, 4-years-old and up, going 6 furlongs at Oaklawn Park.  Bred by Mike Neatherlin and trained by Jack Van Berg for Muddy Waters Stables, she is coming off an 8 ½ length win in a claiming race at Churchill Downs on November 19th.  She has been given odds of 20/1.

On Sunday at Sam Houston Race Park, the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint Stakes for 4-year-olds and up going 5 furlongs on the turf has a full field of 12, including two Accredited Texas-breds.

Bred by Jeanne Bruce, tenacious stakes winner Meme Jo (Too Much Bling – Honey Gold) will be saddled by G. R. Bryant for Team Bryant Thoroughbreds.  The 7-year-old gelding has a career record of 45-16-10-7, with $251,728 in earnings. 

David L. Davis’ homebred multiple stakes winner A M Milky Way (Elusive Bluff – Actress E) is seeking to add to his bankroll of $248,972.  The 5-year-old gelding is trained by Ronnie Cravens.

The $50,000 Space City Stakes for 3-year-olds going 6 furlongs has a field of 13, including three Accredited Texas-breds by Too Much Bling.

Stakes winner Imma Wild Bling was bred by Hall Family Trust and is trained by Charlie Haverkamp for Chuck Fisher.  He won the $65,000 My Dandy division of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park on November 5th.  His odds are set at 12/1.

Bob Young will send out Fletcher Properties’ homebred Rumpole, with morning line odds of 15/1.

Bred by Danny Pish, Too Much Gone is trained by I. V. Gonzalez for Adriel Gonzalez. His odds are 20/1.

Also on Sunday, Evolve (Astrology – Red Tabby) will run in the $100,000 Riley Allison Stakes for 3-year-olds going a mile at Sunland Park.  Bred by No Escape Ranch, he now runs for Stuart Tsujimoto and Edward Hindman.  Trained by E. E. Edgar, he has odds of 20/1.

The new dates for the Texas Champions Stakes have been announced. They have been rescheduled for the last 4 days of Sam Houston Race Park‘s Thoroughbred Meet.

3/10: $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes and $50,000 San Jacinto Turf Stakes
3/11: $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes and $50,000 King Richard Stakes
3/13: $50,000 Groovy Stakes and $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes
3/14: $50,000 Star of Texas Stakes

The Texas Thoroughbred Association has announced the 2016 Texas Champions, and the appropriately named Texas Chrome will be honored as the Texas Horse of the Year at the TTA’s annual meeting and awards banquet at Lone Star Park on June 24. The champions are determined by points earned in stakes performances during the year. 

Owned by Danny Keene’s Keene Thoroughbreds LLC and trained by J.R. Caldwell, Texas Chrome compiled a record of 8-4-1-2 with earnings of $660,245 last year, tops among all Texas-breds. Named the Texas Champion 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding for 2015 after recording three stakes wins, the son of Grasshopper earned four stakes victories in 2016. He started with a division of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star Park, and after placing in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs and Grade 3 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, he annexed the Super Derby Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Then in a span of just 15 days in September, he captured the Grade 3 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs and Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park. He ended his season by finishing off the board in the Grade 1 Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita. C.J. McMahon was the primary rider of Texas Chrome.

Texas Chrome, who also earned the title of Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding, was bred by Craig Upham out of the Texas-bred Naevus mare Margarita Mistress. In the name of his and wife Sue Dowling’s Stoneview Farm, he consigned Texas Chrome to the 2014 Texas Summer Yearling Sale, where the colt sold for $10,000 to Keene. At the time, sire Grasshopper stood at Lane’s End Texas, and the stallion now stands at Valor Farm in Pilot Point, Texas.

With lifetime earnings of $842,807, Texas Chrome currently sits sixth on the all-time list of Texas-bred earners and this year could become just the second Texas-bred millionaire as he chases all-time leader Groovy ($1,346,956).

Ivan Fallunovalot was also a repeat champion as the gelded son of Valid Expectations earned the Texas Champion Older Horse title for the second time. Bred by Eileen Hartis and owned by Lewis Mathews Jr., the now 7-year-old won three stakes last year, including the Grade 3 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park.

Following is the complete list of 2016 champion horses:

2-Year-Old Filly: Bling on the Music (by Too Much Bling) • Owner: Keene Thoroughbreds LLC • Breeder: W.S. Farish • Too Much Bling stands in Texas at Valor Farm, and Bling on the Music sold at the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale

2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding: Raising Rumors (by Sing Baby Sing) • Owner/Breeder: Tom Durant

3-Year-Old Filly: More Than Most (by Indygo Mountain) • Owner: Douglas Scharbauer • Breeder: Clarence Scharbauer Jr.

Older Filly/Mare: Chronologic’sghost (by Parading) • Owner: J.C. Racing Stable • Breeder: Oak Haven Farm • Chronologic’sghost sold at the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale

Older Horse: Ivan Fallunovalot (by Valid Expectations) • Owner: Lewis Mathews Jr. • Breeder: Eileen Hartis

Horse of the Year and 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding: Texas Chrome (by Grasshopper) • Owner: Keene Thoroughbreds LLC • Breeder: Craig Upham • Grasshopper stands in Texas at Valor Farm, and Texas Chrome sold at the Texas Summer Yearling Sale

Champion Broodmare: Margarita Mistress (dam of Texas Chrome)

The award for the Texas Champion Claimer will be determined by an online vote on the TTA website.

NOTES: The Texas Racing Commission has announced changes to the permissible levels of therapeutic medications and naturally occurring substances.  For the complete list, see