-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
|Papaw Bodie with Rosie Napravnik in the Irons Captures the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston Race Park
Houston, Texas (Saturday, January 28, 2012) - There were probably as many fans thrilled to get their first look at top female jockey Rosie Napravnik as the horses running in the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston Race Park. The talented jockey, who is the leading rider at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, jetted over to Houston this evening to ride Papaw Bodie in the richest race of the 2012 Thoroughbred meet.
The mile-and-one-eighth turf contest was awarded Grade III status in 2006, the first Thoroughbred graded stakes since Sam Houston Race Park opened in 1994.
Papaw Bodie entered tonight’s stakes off three consecutive wins for trainer Michael Maker. Longshot And Music Came went out to the early lead and sent the field in an opening quarter-mile of: 24.94 and the half-mile in :49 flat. Napravnik settled Papaw Bodie three-wide on the backstretch, and guided the dark bay gelding to an opening on the rail at the top of the stretch. He responded gamely, surging to the lead and holding off a late run from Proceed Bee. This was the first time Napravnik had ridden at Sam Houston, and she was impressed with her horse and the Connally turf course.
"It's a lovely turf course; just about as good as a golf course," said Napravnik, who graciously signed autographs for her enthusiastic fan base. "Papaw Bodie was great to ride. I had never ridden him, but he was pretty straight forward on his form. I’m very thankful for the connections in having me on him today."
Joe Sharpe saddled the dark bay gelding for Maker and talked about the horse’s transition from Gulfstream Park in Hallendale, Florida.
"He was coming off a mile and three-eighths and Mike does a good job of keeping him tuned up," said Sharpe. "He had a solid week a work ago at Fair Grounds. This is a horse that keeps himself pretty fit. Rosie rode a beautiful race."
The 5-year-old Kentucky-bred owned by Connie M. Apostelos of Springboro, Ohio, who made the trip to Texas and picked up her first graded stakes win as an owner.
"This is a dream come true," said Apostelos. "I got into this business a couple of years ago by way of my friend, Jeff Colombro. I have just become addicted to it! To get a graded stake so early in three years is wonderful. I am so grateful to Mike and Rosie."
The race was run in ideal racing weather, 52 degrees with no wind.
"I love the weather down here and would love to live in a place like this all year round," added the jubilant owner.
Proceed Bee, owned by William Stiritz and trained by Scott Becker, ran second. The 6-year-old was the highest earner in the field with $639,371 in 28 career starts. Rider Chris Emigh had high praise for Napravnik.
"That girl is the real deal," said Emigh as he entered the scale house. "My horse tried hard, but when her horse moved to the inside, the race was over."
Papaw Bodie paid $4.60 to win as the even-money choice and earned $120,000 for the victory. Final time of the mile and one-eighth feature in 1:49.84 over a firm turf course Little Wagon, Ioya Bigtime, And Music Came, Col. Wright and Dakota Gypsy completed the order of finish.
Handle for the ten-race Connally card was $1,592,353, which marked the six consecutive day since the meet began on January 20 that handle surpassed the $1 million mark.
The 2012 Thoroughbred meet continues through Monday, March 12, with post times set for Friday and Saturday (7 p.m.), Sunday (5 p.m.) and Monday (1:20 p.m.). The meet will feature a variety of special events including Dollar Day on February 4, Wiener Dog Races on February 11, Ladies Night on February 25 and Camel & Ostrich Races on March 10. The park will also host a 27-day Quarter Horse Meet from March 22 – May 19.