2023 Houston Ladies Classic & John B. Connally Turf Odds

This Saturday marks one of the most popular race days at the iconic Sam Houston racetrack. The Houston Racing Festival will see two Grade 3 races up for grabs in the shape of the Houston Ladies Classic and John B. Connally Turf. With a cool $500,000 up for grabs across the two races, some of the nations top trainers and jockeys are looking to land these prestigious prizes.

In the 2023 Houston Ladies Classic, legendary trainer Steve Asmussen is looking to land this race for the 4th time in the last five years, whereas in the John B. Connally, 2021 winner Spooky Channel looks set to start as the early favourite.

Houston Ladies Classic

Grade 3, 1 mile and 1/16, Dirt, open to fillies and mares aged 4 and over. Total prize pool: $300,000

Seven horses are set to head down to post for the 2023 Houston Ladies Classic and the betting looks to be tight between a couple at the head of the market.

Steve Asmussen has dominated this race in recent years and runs last year’s winner Pauline’s Pearl in this year’s renewal. Since last year’s victory she has gone from strength to strength, winning at the very highest level when victorious in last season’s Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes. She beat some good horses that day and looks to be the clear class angle of the race. Some may point to a lack of race fitness as a potential weakness, but she will arrive fresh and well rested and we could see her in her best light.

Looking to give Pauline’s Pearl something to think about is Hidden Connection who is likely to start as the second favourite for the contest. Trained out of the Bret Calhoun yard, she is a former Grade 3 winner back when she won the 2021 Pocahontas Stakes. She subsequently backed that performance up when she was only just denied in the G2 Fair Ground Oaks by Echo Zulu. She warmed up for this contest by easily winning an optional claimer last month and with fitness on her side she is bound to be a popular selection.

There are dangers everywhere you look and two horses who look sure to give their running are She Can’t Sing and Sixtythreecaliber.

She Can’t Sing arrives at Sam Houston following victory in the Grade 3 one mile Chilukki Stakes. A credible threat to all in the field, the only question mark is whether she can last the extended mile here. With pace to burn, look for She Can’t Sing to be amongst those at the head of the field.

Sixtythreecaliber is another who will arrive at Sam Houston full of confidence following success in last year’s Grade 3 Comely Stakes where she beat the highly rated Kathleen O. Boasting the best speed figures of all seven runners in the race she is another who will look to be at the head of affairs and will rate as a live danger.

Houston Ladies Classic Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

HorseJockeyOdds by JazzSports
Fast and FeminineWeston Hamilton+3000
OliviaofthedesertJames Graham+1500
She Can’t SingJareth Loveberry+350
Hidden ConnectionReylu Gutierrez+400
Pauline’s PearlStewart Elliott+180
SixtythreecaliberKendrick Carmouche+300
Moon SwagCorey J. Lanerie+800

In what promises to be a fantastic race, the nod goes to Pauline’s Pearl. A classy performer and the winner of this race last year, she boasts some of the very best form in the field. Her Hall of Fame trainer has won this race in three of the last four year’s and knows how to ready one for the big day. She should be a tough nut to crack.


John B. Connally Turf

Grade 3, 1 and a half miles, Turf, open to horses aged four and over. Total prize pool: $200,000

Twelve horses are due down to post for this year’s John B. Connally. Racing over a distance of a mile and a half, the betting for the contest looks wide open and a whole host of horses will believe they can win this contest.

The intriguing factor about this contest is that two previous winners of the race will lock horns, as 2021 winner Spooky Channel takes on last year’s winner Another Mystery.

Spooky Channel looks likely to start the race at the top of the market, but his backers will need to be wary that this will be just his second run for over a year following a tendon injury. With doubts over whether he would race again, his connections would have been delighted with how easily he won the Diliberto Memorial Stakes on his return. This is undoubtedly a tougher test and it will be interesting to see if there are any cobwebs that still need to be blown away.

Another Mystery will be hoping that he can repeat his success in this race twelve months ago, but like Spooky Channel arrives with questions to answer. Another Mystery could only finish sixth last time out in the H. Allen Jerkens Handicap and another showing like that will leave him with it all to do.

Looking to spoil the party between the two former winners of this race will be the Michael Maker trained Bemma’s Boy. An eight-year-old, Bemma’s Boy has only raced at Graded Stakes level four times in his career. His last win in Stakes company came back in 2020 when he was a game winner of the Grade 2 Kitten’s Joy Pan American Stakes.

Last season he was able to finish third in the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes which was won by the impressive Channel Maker. With form at a higher level than this, he could be a danger to all in the field. It’s also worth noting that Maker has won this race seven times so knows how to ready one.

With Maker having dominated this race in the last decade it could be worth looking at his second string for the race, Bay Street Money. Bay Street Money will have the services of Kendrick Carmouche to call upon and Maker will be hopeful of a big run.

This will be Bay Street Money’s first foray into a Graded Stakes race but he does arrive at Sam Houston having won two of his last three starts. Likely to start at a decent price, he could be a potential value angle of the contest.

John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyOdds by JazzSports
Scarlet FusionAdam Beschizza+800
KinenosCorey J. Lanerie+1500
PortosLane J. Luzzi+2000
Devamani (FR)Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez+3000
Bemma’s BoyReylu Gutierrez+350
Logical MythLeandro D. Goncalves+1500
U S Navy CrossSahin Civaci+3000
Risk ManagerWeston Hamilton+2000
Spooky ChannelJames Graham+250
Another MysteryJareth Loveberry+450
Seductive U S ARodolfo Guerra+3000
Bay Street MoneyKendrick Carmouche+600

With twelve horses in the field this is a wide-open race but it should come down to the principles. With Michael Maker having dominated this race and with the leading two in the market Spooky Channel and Another Mystery having questions to answer, it could be worth siding with Bemma’s Boy to build on his previous Graded success.

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