See field for top race in Texas

Hall of Fame Trainer Steve Asmussen Sends Stonestreet Stable’s Own Bred Pauline’s Pearl in pursuit of his third win Sunday in the Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Women’s Classic, the main event every year at Sam Houston Race Park.

A filly by Tapit out of the Dixie Union mare Hot Dixie Chick, Pauline’s Pear came in at position 3 with Joel Rosario on the 6-5 morning line favorite. Rosario and Asmussen have been working together successfully lately; Rosario led La Crete to victory in Saturday’s Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds.

Click here for the registrations and results of Sam Houston.

The Houston Ladies Classic, now running for its 10th time, at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, has been a springboard for top senior mares and mares. This year’s fair was boosted to $400,000 from the $300,000 for previous editions. The race is part of the 11-race Houston Racing Festival, which also includes the $200,000
John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3).

A win by Pauline’s Pearl would put Asmussen in the record books as the only conditioner to win three editions of the Houston Ladies Classic. He won with Midnight Bisou in 2019, the notable champion who captured five Grade 1 stakes, earned $7.4 million and was honored as the 2019 Eclipse Award-winning Older Woman. Asmussen also captured the 2020 Houston Ladies Classic with Lady Apple, a then 5-year-old daughter of Curlin oled by Phoenix Thoroughbred III.

Pauline’s Pearl kicks off her 11th career on Sunday. She made her Fair Grounds debut last year before heading to Oaklawn Park on March 6 for the 2021 Honeybee (G3). She finished second in that race for her win in the $600,000 Fantasy (G3). The gray filly completed her 3-year campaign with a win at the Zia Park Oaks on November 23.

Asmussen sent the Kentucky-bred filly back to Fair Grounds, where she had a string of works in December and January before leaving for Houston last week. On Saturday, she looked comfortable jogging on a fast, main track under practice rider Eulalio Rivera.

“She is a very beautiful filly,” Asmussen said. “We have had success with both Midnight Bisou and Lady Apple in this race and look forward to running Pauline’s Pearl for Stonestreet Stables.”

The Mary Rose, bred and owned in Arkansas by Shortleaf Stable, will be shipped to Houston from Oaklawn Park on Thursday, according to her trainer John Ortiz. Ortiz has been conditioning the 5-year-old Macho Uno mare since last summer with four placings on the board in five starts. She finished her 2021 season scoring seven lengths on a $50,000 stipend at Oaklawn on December 31.

“The light bulb came on for me during her second race last August at Colonial Downs,” Ortiz said. “She sprinted quite a bit. I wanted to see what she did in two corners, and she blew the doors off in her last race. ”

Jockey Reylu Gutiérrez has the call and will break from the far outpost on a 3-1 chance. The talented young rider will make his second appearance in the Houston Ladies Classic after riding Jeweled Princess for Kenny McPeek last year.

Shipping from Fair Grounds in New Orleans is Lothenbach Stable’s Audrey’s Time, who just won the $75,000 Joseph Spanky Broussard Stakes for trainer Neil Pessin. Corey Lanerie has the recall aboard Uncle Mo’s 5-year-old daughter.

Trainer Mike Stidham has entered Velvet Crush, a 5-year-old Tapit mare bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farms and owned by Famousstyle Stables. At Monmouth Park and Belmont Park, she placed third after Audrey’s Time at Fair Grounds last month. Current Sam Houston leading jockey Ry Eikleberry has the call and will break the rail on a chance of 8-1.

Trainer Scott Gelner, who competed in last year’s edition of the race with Shes Our Fastest for Norman Racing Stables, will saddle Becca’s Rocket for the same connections with Adam Beschizza in the irons. Orb’s 4-year-old daughter is making her 16th career start.

Golden Curl, owned by George Sharp, ships from Turfway Park. The 6-year-old Curlin mare is being trained by Shawn Davis with Tyler Gaffalione flying in from Gulfstream Park to ride.

Champagne Affair makes its Sam Houston debut for owners L&G Racing Stable. Daredevil’s Kentucky-bred daughter is ridden by Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez for trainer Cesar Govea.

The Houston Ladies Classic is the seventh race on Sunday’s chart with a post time of approximately 5:53 p.m. EST.

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