|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, www.shrp.com.