-photo by Coady Photography

Bold Reply
-photo by Coady Photography

Sound of Gold
-photo by Christy Smith/Coady Photography

Front-Running Warleigh Wins the $222,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf at SHRP

Houston, Texas (April 10, 2004) - A deluge hit the Houston area in the early evening but even 3 ½ inches of rain could not derail the effort of Warleigh as he captured the richest race of the Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meeting, the $222,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf. The 6-year-old Argentine-bred is owned by Ro Parra of Austin, Texas and trained by leading Sam Houston Race Park trainer, Steve Asmussen.

Sent off at odds of 5-1, Warleigh was ridden by Jeremy Beasley, who sent him to the lead over the yielding turf course. He drew off by two lengths at the top of the stretch and held off the late rally of Skate Away. Warleigh, who earned $133,200 for tonight’s victory, covered the mile-and-one-eighth stakes in a time of 1:53.01. Beasley was honored as leading rider at Sam Houston Race Park, adding two wins tonight to finish the meet with 100 victories.

"I want to thank Steve for standing behind me and having confidence in me enough to put me on Warleigh," said Beasley. "He is a true warrior. He earned every stride of the way. My hat’s off to Billy (assistant trainer, Billy Lopes) and the rest of the crew at Asmussen’s barn for doing such a great job. And thanks to Sam Houston for putting on such a great meet. It is very rare that they win on the front end but we got it done and I don’t care how we did it but we won and that is all that matters."

Asmussen was not in Houston this evening but was reached via telephone for his post-race comments.

"I thought he ran great," said Asmussen. "His last race was his only disappointing one, but we figured some things out and our goal was to win this one. The Connally Breeders’ Cup is his biggest race so far. We are very proud of him."

Skate Away, who finished third in the Connally last year, closed for second tonight, winning $44,000 for owner J. Mack Robinson and trainer Jeff Trosclair. Gerard Melancon rode the 5-year-old gelding and made no excuses about the yielding turf course.

"My horse handled the surface beautifully," said Melancon. "The winner was hard to beat, especially when he gets out there on his own. Every stride down the lane, I thought I really had it. My horse gave me all he had."

Hall of Fame rider, Pat Day, flew in from Hot Springs, Arkansas, to ride Quest Star for trainer Elliott Walden. Day, who finished fourth, greeted racing fans, signed 15-20 autographs and smiled for some pictures on his way back through the grandstand, making particular note to speak to a couple of small kids in attendance with their parents.

"We broke well then we kind of got shuffled back as we came onto the main part of course," commented Day. "I knew we might be in trouble because he is not a quick accelerating type of horse. Once I got him out he gave me what he had. He handled the course fine - it was soft, but the footing was good."

Warleigh paid $13.40 to win, $5.80 to place and $3.80 to show. The 8-7 exacta returned $66.60 and the trifecta with Gentlemen J J returned $1,516.20. The complete order of finish included Quest Star, Del Mar Show, Excessive Behavior, Toratora, Better Talk Now, Bassant, Canaan Land and Seainsky.

The Connally Breeders' Cup Turf was Warleigh’s third career stakes victory and vaulted his career earnings to $577,451. Asmussen indicated that Warleigh would make his next start at Churchill Downs.


Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup

Bold Reply, a 7-year-old Texas-bred, had no problem with the yielding turf, and kicked clear in the final furlong to capture the $40,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup on Saturday evening. This was the first stakes win for Bold Reply who is owned Nancy and Colten Finch and trained by Shawn Finch. With the scratch of Run Zeal Run, Bold Reply had only five rivals and heavy post-time favorite, Gold Storm never got his footing over the yielding turf. Bold Reply covered the five furlong distance in a time of :58.94 under jockey Kevin Cogburn.

"The going was a little soft, but he was handling it well," commented Cogburn. "I thought he was going to get there but didn’t feel confident until we got to the wire."

Clever Pancho, with Terry Stanton up, ran second and Gold Storm, who drew off by nine lengths in his last five-furlong race on the main track at Delta Downs, completed the trifecta.

"He absolutely didn’t handle the turf course," said a disappointed Gerard Melancon. "He was bobbing his head and trying, but just couldn’t get his best stride. He would have beaten this bunch by 20 lengths on the main track."

Bold Reply, the second longest shot in the field, paid $25.80 to win, $8.60 to place and $2.80 to show. No Matter Who ran fourth followed by Karama Trapp and Dickey Rickey.

Jersey Lilly Stakes

The $40,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes for fillies and mares going one-and-a-sixteenth of mile was also run on the Saturday evening card. The brilliant Sound of Gold continued to prove her affinity for the Connally Turf Course winning her third turf stakes at Sam Houston Race Park. Trained by Paul Pearson for Iowa-based owners River Ridge Ranch, the 6-year-old mare earned $24,000 for her victory tonight, improving her Sam Houston Race Park record to 7 wins from 13 starts.

Jacinto set the pace and kept the other seven fillies and mares at bay as he led from gate-to-wire, clearing the wire in a final time of 1:47.65. Tyger River, owned by David John Kraus, is another filly who loves the Connally Turf Course. She closed nicely under Terry Stanton for second and Tiva’s Little Sis, with Sam Houston Race Park leading rider, Jeremy Beasley aboard, was third.

"She’s just the best filly," said Jacinto. "She can run long and she can run short. The rain and the soft turf did not bother her a bit. She is one of a kind."

Sound of Gold paid $5.40 to win, $3.40 to place and $2.60 to show. The complete order of finish included Won Ton Win, Lady Mallory, Rochelle, Float and Sting and Miss Tale Cat. Burnin’ Memories, Cat’s Cat and Terrific Speed were early scratches.

The former first lady of Texas, Nellie Connally, was a guest at Sam Houston Saturday night and signed her new book From Love Field: Our Final Hours with President John F. Kennedy. Mrs. Connally presented the trophy for the Connally Breeders' Cup Turf and received a special 7’x14’ birthday cake in honor of her 85th birthday.

The final night of the 2003/2004 Thoroughbred Meeting concluded with the presentation of the leading rider award to Jeremy Beasley (100 wins), leading trainer award to Steve Asmussen (60 wins) and leading owner honors to Jim Bausch (15 wins).

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