Fort Prado Leads Field of Twelve Set for the Grade III Connally Breeders’ Cup Turf at Sam Houston Race Park

(April 5, 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.

Fort Prado is the 3-1 morning line favorite 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 Patricia, David and Ryan Block, Fort Prado, will van into Houston on Wednesday afternoon and will jog on the main track on Thursday and Friday according to Trosclair. Robby Albarado, who rode Rod and Staff to victory in the 2000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, has the mount and will break from post position six.

“We’re looking forward to a good effort from him on Saturday,” said Trosclair from his base in Louisiana. “Hopefully there will be some pace in the race and he can just run them down in the lane.”

Another horse that will be trying to do just that is defending champion Rapid Proof, who drew the 11 post for trainer Hal Wiggins and breeder/ owner Dolphus Morrison. The 6-year-old son of Fast Play won the biggest race of his career in 2005 when he captured the $500,000 Mervin H. Muniz Memorial Handicap on March 19. He followed that victory with his win in the 2005 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf. Trained by Hal Wiggins, Rapid Proof will be ridden on Saturday by Brian Hernandez, Jr. Hernandez was aboard Rapid Proof on March 17 in a turf allowance prep, his first race since November. He ran second in that race to Seainsky, who will also compete in the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf for trainer Danny Pish.

“He needed that last start and got a lot out of the race,” said Wiggins of the turf prep on March 17. “I didn’t want to run him on the dirt up here at Oaklawn, so I was happy to get a race in him and see him come out of that in good shape.”

Onthedeanslist is another top contender for the Grade III Connally Breeders' Cup Turf. The 7-year-old Kentucky-bred is trained by Ralph Nicks for Team Valor Stables LLC and defeated Fort Prado in the $75,000 Colonel Bradley last December. He will make his first start in four months, but Nicks feels that his charge, who will arrive in Houston on Friday, will run well fresh.

“Last year’s Connally Breeders' Cup Turf went with a field of eight,” said Sam Houston Race Park racing secretary, Eric Johnston. “We look forward to an excellent event with a full field of 12 in its first running as a Grade III stakes.”

The complete field for the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf is from the rail: Waupaca, E.J. Perrodin, 6-1; Doctor Doctor Mrmd, Filemon Rodriguez, 30-1; Dontbotherknocking, Quincy Hamilton, 8-1; Prince T., Bobby Walker, Jr., 8-1; Twilight Vision, Glen Murphy, 15-1; Fort Prado, Robby Albarado, 3-1; Seainsky, Justin Shepherd, 15-1; Toratora, Amanda Crandall, 30-1; A R Crackers, Omar Rodriguez, 20-1; Dynareign, John Byrne, 12-1; Rapid Proof, Brian Hernandez, Jr., 5-1 and Onthedeanslist, Corey Lanerie, 9-2. The Connally Breeders' Cup Turf will run as the seventh race on the card, with a scheduled post time of 9:36 p.m.(CT).

News and notes

Excellent Weather Report Predicted for Connally Night

The extended forecast for the Grade III Connally Breeders' Cup Turf calls for clear skies with a high of 77 and low of 58. There is a 20% chance of showers on Friday, but no rain is forecast for Saturday.

Advanced Wagering for the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf Card

Sam Houston Race Park will offer advanced wagering on the entire Connally Breeders' Cup Turf card on Friday, April 7. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. for simulcasting and the first Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred race is set for 7:00 p.m.

Grade III Connally Breeders’ Cup Online Handicapping Contest

Racing fans in Texas and across the country are welcome to register for the $1,000 Connally Breeders’ Cup Online Handicapping Contest. The contest is open to all racing fans, 21-years of age or older, with a total of $1,000 in prizes to the top four finishers.

There is no entry fee for Connally Breeders’ Cup Online Handicapping Contest. Each contestant will be required to make win, place and show selections for the evening’s featured stakes, plus one additional race from the Saturday night card. Registration will take place on the Sam Houston Race Park web site, beginning Thursday, April 6 at 3:00 p.m. with the deadline to enter at 7:00 on Saturday, April 8.

For more information and a complete set of rules for the Connally Breeders’ Cup Online Handicapping Contest, please visit the Sam Houston Race Park web site at

Fans Encouraged to Come Early for Johnny Lee and Connally Breeders' Cup Turf T-Shirts

The festivities for the Grade III Connally Breeders' Cup Turf include a free concert by country music artist Johnny Lee before the evening’s races. Lee who is probably best known by Houston fans for his hit song “Looking for Love” from Urban Cowboy, will belt out his hits on the Paddock Balcony Stage. The Texas native was named the Academy of Country Music Best New Artist in 1980. Lee’s hits include “Pickin' Up Strangers”, “Be There For Me Baby”, “Cherokee Fiddle”, “Bet Your Heart On Me” and “One In A Million”.

Lee will perform his good time favorites at 5:00 p.m.on Saturday, April 8, 2006. Racing fans are encouraged to come early to enjoy his concert and receive a free Connally Breeders' Cup Turf t-shirt.

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