Houston Ladies Classic S. & John B. Connally Turf Recap

Saturday 28th January marked one of the most high-profile racing days of the year at the famous Sam Houston race track. With two Grade 3 races up for grabs in the form of the Houston Ladies Classic S. and John B Connally Turf Cup, everything looked set for a memorable day’s racing. 

The feature race of the day was the Houston Ladies Classic and it saw the defending champion Paula’s Pearl repeat her success from last year and bag a 4th victory in the previous five years for legendary trainer Steve Asmussen. In the John B. Connally Turf Cup, Scarlet Fusion pulled off a minor upset to win the race in thrilling fashion under a superb ride from British jockey Adam Beschizza.

Houston Ladies Classic S.

Grade 3, 1 mile and a half, Dirt, open to fillies and mares aged four and over. Total prize pool: $300,000

Pauline’s Pearl headed to Sam Houston looking to win the Houston Ladies Classic for the second straight year and started this year as the third favorite for the contest. 

Sixtythreecaliber started the race as the favorite following a success last time out in the Grade 3 Comely Stakes

With rain falling in Houston on Saturday morning, the Dirt track was running on the sloppy side, and in the early proceedings of the race was steadily run. 

The action didn’t hot up until the field hit the final turn where it was the strongly fancied Hidden Connection who seized the advantage. 

Looking to press her advantage home, Hidden Connection tried to stretch clear of the field but didn’t have the turn of foot to put the race away. 

Stalking her rival all the way was Pauline’s Pearl. Left perfectly positioned by jockey Stewart Elliott, Pauline’s Pearl had plenty of energy left as the runners hit the final furlong. Pulling alongside Hidden Connection it was clear there was only going to be one winner. As soon as Pauline’s Pearl hit the front she stretched clear winning by two lengths. 

Hidden Connection finished in second place with  She Can’t Sing holding on for third. 

John B Connally Turf Cup

Grade 3, 6 furlongs, Turf, open to horses aged four and over. Total prize pool $150,000

The final race on Saturday’s Sam Houston card came from the John B Connally Turf Cup. A six-furlong sprint, nine horses lined up for this year’s renewal with the favorite being the Jason Barkley-trained Spooky Channel. 

After an even start to the race, it was the Chris Block-trained Another Mystery who seized the initiative, tracking from out wide to bag the inside rail. 

Rounding the home turn in the first place, the question was whether he spent too much energy working his way into the lead. Hot on his heels was the Spooky Channel and the two looked set to battle it out inside the final furlong. 

As the two were set for battle the eye was drawn to the fast-finishing Scarlet Fusion who was making rapid headway from the back. 

With the top two beginning to tie themselves in knots, Scarlet Fusion and his British jockey Adam Beschizza sensed their opportunity. 

Asking for more, Scarlet Fusion found plenty and with just 100 yards left to go eased his way to the front to capture a cozy victory. 

In the battle for second, it was Another Mystery who gamely held on, with Spooky Channel having to settle for third. 

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