The Twelfth Running of the $200,000 Connally Breeders’ Cup Turf Race Closes with 82 Nominations

(March 30, 2006) - The final weekend of the 2005/2006 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred Meeting will be highlighted with the running of the richest stakes of the season, the Grade III Connally Breeders’ Cup Turf on Saturday, April 8.

The mile-and-an-eighth contest was awarded Grade III status this year, the first Thoroughbred graded stakes since the northwest Houston opened in 1994. The Connally Breeders’ Cup Turf highlights an exceptional card with two additional turf stakes races, the $40,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes and the $40,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint. Sam Houston Race Park racing secretary Eric Johnston was pleased with the 82 nominations for the premier turf race.

“We are thrilled that the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf is now a Grade III stakes,” said Johnston. “This race has always attracted some of the finest turf horses in the country and the field this year will be of exceptional quality.”

Last year’s Connally Breeders' Cup Turf champion, Rapid Proof, is expected to run. The 6-year-old multiple-stakes winner is bred and owned by Dolphus Morrison of Birmingham, Alabama and began 2005 with back-to-back stakes wins, capturing the Grade II Mervin H Muniz Memorial Handicap followed by the $216,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf last April. The Hal Wiggins-trainee ran second in an allowance race here on March 16 in preparation for his defense of the title.

Fort Prado should be one of the top contenders in the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf. The 5-year-old son of El Prado won the Grade III Fair Grounds Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Louisiana Downs on January 21 and followed that up with a victory in the $125,000 Tampa Breeders’ Cup on February 25. Trained by Jeff Trosclair for owners Team Block and Patricia and David Ryan, Fort Prado has bankrolled $523,100 to date.

Nominations include Thoroughbreds from both the East and West Coast. Trainer Bill Mott has nominated several turf veterans to the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, including Gun Salute, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt who competed in the 2005 Grade I Breeders’ Cup. Sort It Out, trained by Bob Baffert, is one of several possible California shippers. The 4-year-old stakes-placed colt is co-owned by Stonerside Stable and Preferred Pals Stable. Another nominee is Misto Quente, a Brazilian-bred 5-year-old conditioned by Bobby Frankel and owned by Houstonian Tom Tatham and TNT Stud.

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 8 card at Sam Houston Race Park is 7:00 p.m.(CST) and the northwest Houston racetrack will also host the $1,000 Connally Online Handicapping Contest. A complete set of rules may be found on the Sam Houston Race Park web site,

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