A top quality group of turf specialists will compete in the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday, January 25. Trainer Michael Maker will ship in Admiral Kitten and King David, who was the runner-up in last year’s edition of the mile-and-one-eighth turf contest.
Admiral Kitten is the 2-1 morning line choice in the Connally Turf Cup. The 4-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy is owned and bred by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, who were honored both as champion breeder and owner in last weekend’s Eclipse Awards. Admiral Kitten won the Grade 1, $500,000 Secretariat at Arlington Park on August 14 and had runner-up efforts in six graded stakes throughout 2013. Maker has given the mount to Julien Leparoux, who will break from post position five aboard the bay colt.
Maker, who won the 2012 Connally with Papaw Bodie, also sends in King David, a 5-year-old Hat Trick colt owned by Scarlet Stable. Lightly raced following last year’s Connally, Maker feels the veteran turf runner, who has won 6 of his 12 turf races, will run well Saturday under Rosie Napravnik.
“He’s doing well,” said Maker of King David. “We think the Connally will be a nice comeback race.”
This will be the first time Admiral Kitten has run at Sam Houston Race Park, but he posted an impressive stakes debut win in the 2012 El Joven at Retama Park. Maker has little doubt about Admiral Kitten picking up a check in his return to Texas on Saturday evening.
“Admiral Kitten has been everywhere,” notes Maker. “It doesn’t matter where, he always runs his race.”
Trainer Michael Matz, who sent in And Why Not for the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, ships in the Ramona Bass homebred Fredericksburg for the Connally. The 4-year-old had a game allowance win last month at Gulfstream Park and Matz feels he is ready for the step up in company.
“He is starting to round the corner,” said Matz. “He’s out of a mare I trained for Mrs. Bass who has already produced stakes winners. This will be a test for him, but if you don’ t try, you will never know.”
Luis Saez will ride Fredericksburg for Matz and drew the outside post in the eight-horse field.
Vertiformer, owned by Joseph Allen, arrived today from Florida for noted turf trainer Christophe Clement. The Kentucky-bred son of Dynaformer comes off a 12-month layoff, but has posted a solid work tab at Payson Park. “Jersey” Joe Bravo will be on the plane Saturday from Florida with Leparoux, Saez and Jesus Rios, who rides Rose to Gold in the Houston Ladies Classic.
The Connally Turf Cup was awarded Grade 3 status in 2006, the first Thoroughbred graded stakes since Sam Houston Race Park opened in 1994. Previous champions include Chorwon, Fort Prado, Rod and Staff and Candid Glen, who won the stakes a record three times.
The complete field for the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup is from the rail with riders: Vertiformer, Joe Bravo; Cajun Don, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez; Marine Patrol, Shaun Bridgmohan; King David, Rosie Napravnik; Admiral Kitten, Julien Leparoux; Arthur’s Court, Junior Chacaltana; Michael’s Gabriel, Iram Diego and Fredericksburg, Luis Saez.
Post time for the Saturday, January 25 card is 7:00 p.m. (CT). The Connally Turf Cup will run as the eighth race on the card.
Sum of the Parts Leads Quality Field of Turf Sprinters in the $75,000 Champion Energy Services Stakes
Tom Amoss trains the 3-1 morning line choice Sum Of The Parts for Klaravich Stables LLC and William H. Lawrence. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown has bankrolled $761,543 in his career and ships in Saturday in pursuit of his fourth consecutive victory. Napravnik was aboard for his win the Bonapaw Stakes last month at Fair Grounds, and will break from post position seven in the five furlong turf sprint.
“He’s made a living on the front end,” commented Amoss on the noted front-running style of Sum Of The Parts. “It’s no secret that we are going to send him and hope he holds on. This is a very good field.”
Millennium Farms Great Mills won the Champion Energy Services Stakes in 2012 for trainer Steve Asmussen. The War Front 6-year-old will also be forwardly placed under rider Deshawn Parker, who has joined the Sam Houston jockey colony in 2014.
Top sprinter Force Freeze will make his first start since February 2012 for new connections of Eric and Randi Moreau-Sipiere and trainer Jerenesto Torrez.
The complete field for the Champion Energy Services from the rail with riders: Force Freeze, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez; Bounding Bi, Luis Saez; Artest, Julien Leparoux; Ishararuler, Glen Murphy; Great Mills, Deshawn Parker; Flat Back, Fabio Arguello, Jr.; Sum Of The Parts, Rosie Napravnik; Hogy, Chris Emigh and Perfect Parker, Edwin Maldonado.