|Rapid Proof Nips Defending Champion
Warleigh at the Wire in the $216,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf at
Houston, Texas (April 9, 2005) - On a beautiful,
clear Spring evening in Houston, a new champion was crowned in the
richest race of the Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meeting,
the $216,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf.
Rapid Proof, bred and owned by Dolphus Morrison of Birmingham, Alabama,
proved that his win in the $500,000 Mervin H. Muniz Memorial Handicap
at Fair Grounds, was no fluke. Brian Hernandez, Jr., who rode the
5-year-old son of Fast Play in New Orleans, had the return call
and gave trainer Hal Wiggins his third Connally Breeders' Cup Turf
victory. Wiggins also conditioned Chorwon, who won the 1998 and
1999 editions of the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf.
Defending champion, Warleigh won last year's Connally in gate-to-wire
fashion and looked as though he would register the repeat. Trained
by Steve Asmussen, Warleigh was sent to the lead by rider Corey
Lanerie and set fractions of 25.24 for the first quarter and 49.31
for the half-mile. He had built a 1 ¾ length lead at the
top of the stretch when Rapid Proof unleashed his powerful rally
and nipped Warleigh by a head at the wire. The time of the mile
and one-eighth stakes over a firm turf course was 1:51.31.
"His win tonight was a lot like the race at the Fair Grounds,"
said Hernandez. "When we broke, he broke nicely and settled
in. He relaxed coming out of the chute and I had a lot of confidence
in him. The horse on the lead (Warleigh) was two in front, but I
knew I had a lot of horse. We had a wall of horses backing up in
front of us and we got lucky and got through, just like we did at
the Fair Grounds. He's such a great horse; he knows where the wire
Wiggins was surrounded by friends and family and gave much of
the credit to his rider.
"I want to compliment Brian on the race he rode tonight,"
said Wiggins. "The horse got stopped twice on the backside
and Brian was very patient and came through a hole in the stretch
and got him there right at the end. A very, very good ride. I want
to thank Mr. Morrison for giving me an opportunity to train such
a good horse; I've trained for him for over 25 years and it's been
a very good relationship. I also want to thank Sam Houston Race
Park; they've been very good to us and accommodating to our big
"You couldn't ask for a more professional ride than what
Brian gave us tonight," added Morrison. "Hal Wiggins has
done a great job in the 25-years we've been together. We've won
a lot of money and lost a lot of money, but we've had a great time
and have a great horse."
Rapid Proof earned $129,600 for tonight's victory, boosting his
career earnings to $679,303. Warleigh earned $43,200 for his runner-up
finish and Asmussen's second entrant in the Connally Breeders' Cup
Turf, Dynareign ran third.
"I was able to get the lead and back up the pace and my horse
was full of run when we turned for home," said Lanerie. "I
thought the winner was going to go by us easy, but my horse dug
in and wasn't going to let him go by. They just got us at the wire."
Rider Don Simington was pleased with the effort of third place
"He ran his heart out tonight and gave me everything he had,"
maintained Simington. "The pace was slow and I had him tucked
in behind the horse in front. I didn't want to push him too early,
but we were turning for home and we had clear sailing in front of
us. He gave me a big kick and we finished up strong."
Rapid Proof, sent off as the second betting choice, paid $6.40
for the win The 1-2 exacta returned $17.80 and the 1-2-3 trifecta
paid $99.00. Social King, Val's Approval, Wire Bound, three-time
Connally champion, Candid Glen and Herculated completed the order
A crowd of 8,260 was on hand to enjoy the Connally Breeders' Cup
Turf as well as two other stakes on the Saturday evening card.
Jersey Lilly Stakes
The $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes for fillies and mares going one
mile-and-a-sixteenth drew a field of eight. Peace Symbol, a 4-year-old
Florida-bred filly owned by Patricia Foster and Penley Leonard of
Ocala, Florida, was the winner. Sam Houston Race Park leading rider
Quincy Hamilton sent the dark bay filly to the lead and she won
in gate-to-wire fashion, holding off a late charge from Bonnie J
and the post-time favorite, Dancing Liebling from the barn of Steve
"She left there pretty sharp and I knew that she was going
to be on her toes tonight," said Hamilton, who had ridden Peace
Symbol in her previous three Sam Houston starts. "I looked
around and didn't see anyone coming and was pretty happy with that.
She just kept on running. I think I got the bigger heart than she
did tonight. She's a great filly; this is amazing."
Peace Symbol paid $6.60 to win. The 3-5 exacta paid $20.40 and
the 3-5-8 trifecta returned $46.
The Danny Pish-trainee will make her next start at Lone Star Park.
Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup
The final stakes of the evening was the running of the $50,000
Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup. A field of ten turf sprinters went
postward with Proven Cure from the barn of John Locke defying his
age and wining by two lengths.
The 11-year-old son of Cure the Blues is bred and owned by Dr. William
A. Reed & Stonecrest Farm in Kentucky. Quincy Hamilton had ridden
him to victory in his previous two races over the Connally turf
course and won his second stakes of the evening guiding the chestnut
gelding to victory in the five-furlong dash. They crossed the wire
in :57.92, just under the track record of :56.93 set by Go Scotty
"He's a great horse; it doesn't take much to ride him,"
commented Hamilton."You just have to show him where to go and
he does it. He's probably been around there more times than me."
Chilean bred-mare, Hortense closed gamely under Brian Hernandez,
Jr. for second and the Bill Pettit-trainee, Charming Socialite ran
third. Test of Time, defending champion, Bold Reply, Western Roar,
Giant Bellyache, Smile Away, Nukeladen and Forum Rules completed
the order of finish. Proven Cure was sent off as the favorite and
returned $5.40 for the win.