|Two Former Champions and 2004 Breeders'
Cup Turf Winner, Better Talk Now, Nominated for the $200,000 Connally
Breeders' Cup Turf
Houston, Texas (April 1, 2005)
- The final weekend of the 2004/2005 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred
Meeting will be highlighted with the running of the richest stakes
of the season, the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf Race on
Saturday, April 9.
The mile-and-an-eighth contest will celebrate its eleventh running
and the Saturday evening card will feature two additional stakes
races, the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes and the $50,000 Sam Houston
Turf Sprint. Sam Houston Race Park racing secretary Eric Johnston
was pleased with the 54 nominations for the premier turf race.
"The Connally Breeders' Cup Turf continues to attract some
of the finest turf horses in the country," said Johnston. "We
are thrilled with the nomination of 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf champion,
Better Talk Now as well as past Connally Breeders' Cup Turf winners,
Candid Glen and Warleigh."
Two former champions are expected to run, including three-time
Connally Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Candid Glen. The 8-year-old
Kentucky-bred turf specialist has won 11 of his 43 career starts
for owner Dr. Glen Warren, including the 2001, 2002 and 2003 editions
of the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf. A suspensory injury prevented
him from competing last year, but he returned to the racetrack last
December and won a seven-furlong race on the main track.
Over 3 ½ inches of rain pummeled the north Houston racetrack
last April, but that did not derail the efforts of Warleigh, who
won in gate-to-wire fashion for trainer Steve Asmussen. The 7-year-old
son of Lord At War captured the $50,000 Mardi Gras Handicap at Fair
Grounds on February 8 and has bankrolled $639,262 for owner Ro Parra.
Asmussen has also nominated Dynareign, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred
sired by Dynaformer, who will be making his first start over the
Connally Turf course.
"Let it rain," commented Asmussen about next Saturday's
weather. "The wetter the better for Warleigh."
The connections of Better Talk Now are hoping for clear weather
and a firm turf course as last year's yielding turf course was not
his cup of tea.
Trainer Graham Motion and owners, Bushwood Stables, have fond
memories of Texas as Better Talk Now won the $2,000,000 Breeders'
Cup Turf last October at Lone Star Park.
Yet another strong contender is Rapid Proof, a 5-year-old gelding
owner by Dolphus Morrison and trained by Hal Wiggins. The dark bay
had an excellent meet at Fair Grounds culminating with his victory
in the Grade 2 Mervin H Muniz Memorial Handicap on March 19. Sent
off at 31-1, Rapid Proof defeated a solid field of turf horses and
gave Wiggins the first graded stakes win of his career. Returning
to Houston to compete in the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf should
bring back pleasant memories for Wiggins who won the 1998 and 1999
editions of the premier turf race with Chorwon. The gray son of
Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Cozzene, set a new turf track record
of 1:47.65 in 1999.
The draw for the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf and the accompanying
stakes will take place on Wednesday, April 6. Post time for the
Saturday, April 9 card at Sam Houston Race Park is 7:00 p.m.(CST)
and the northwest Houston racetrack will also host the $2,500 Connally
Online Handicapping Contest. A complete set of rules may be found
on the Sam Houston Race Park web site, www.shrp.com.