November 03, 2021: Stolen Base, entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and trained by Michael J. Maker, gallops at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, California on November 03, 2021. Evers/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders’ Cup/ CSM
Sam Houston Race Park will host its annual Houston Racing Festival on Sunday, Jan. 30. A special post time of 1:45 pm (CT) has been set for the marquee day of the 2022 Thoroughbred meet with six featured stakes.
As previously reported, two graded stakes will be contested: the Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic and the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf. A very promising forecast of clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60’s is on tap for the Sunday afternoon program.
One of the undercard stakes features a very competitive field and a new name in honor of Robert L. Bork, former Sam Houston Race Park president. The $200,000 Texas Turf Mile for 3 year-olds has been renamed the Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile. Bork, who made a tremendous impact on the racing industry, nationally and in Houston, passed away peacefully on June 11, 2021 at the age of 83.
Members of the Bork family will present the trophy following the running of the Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile. Dan Bork, who serves as assistant racing secretary/stakes coordinator at Churchill Downs and racing secretary at Ellis Park, proudly speaks of his father’s accomplishments in the racing industry.
“My father was a respected racing executive for over four decades,” he said. “He truly loved horse racing and the development of Sam Houston Race Park as the first Class 1 racetrack in Texas meant a great deal to him. His wife, Judith, my son, Owen, my sister Dina and brother Michael look forward to honoring him on Sunday.”
A field of eleven will enter the starting gate for this one-mile feature for 3-year-olds on the Connally Turf Course.
Stolen Base, who competed in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, has been tabbed as the 3-1 morning line choice. The son of Bodemeister is owned by Three Diamonds Farm and Deuce Greathouse. Trained by Mike Maker, he won his debut at Saratoga last July and advanced directly into stakes competition. The Kentucky-bred colt ran second in the Grade 2 Bourbon at Keeneland before finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar on Nov. 5. Giovanni Franco has the call and will break from post position seven.
“He had some traffic issues in the Breeders’ Cup, but ran a credible race,” said Maker, who will also saddle Pure Panic and Grantham in the Bob Bork. “Stolen Base has been working well for its 3-year-old season.”
Horses trained by Eclipse Award winning trainers Steve Asmussen, Todd Pletcher, and Brad Cox will also be in the mix. Asmussen will saddle Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC homebred Red Run and Down Cold, who is owned by L and N Racing LLC and Team Hanley. Joel Rosario has the call on Red Run, sired by Gun Runner. Veteran rider Stewart Elliott, who rides first call for Asmussen in Texas and Oklahoma, will guide the gelded son of Mastery.
“He is a very talented son of Gun Runner and in the capable hands of Joel,” said Asmussen. “Down Cold had a nice win at Sam Houston (on January 6) and deserves the opportunity to run at this level.”
Pletcher, who won the 2017 Houston Ladies Classic with Unbridled Mo, will ship in Chanceux for Harrell Ventures, LLC. This will be just the fourth start for the Speightstown colt, who ran second in the $100,000 Dania Beach earlier this month at Gulfstream Park.
“That was his first start around two turns, so we thought this race would be a good fit, plus the Harrells live in Houston,” Pletcher said. “Very nice of Sam Houston to name the race after Bob Bork, who was such an admired leader in our industry.”
Cox, who won the 2018 Houston Ladies Classic with Tiger Moth, will be represented by Bloodline, owned by Karl and Cathi Glassman. The son of Uncle Mo will make his stakes debut after winning a main track allowance at Fair Grounds on December 31. He will also ship Dean Maltzman’s homebred Kaely’s Brother from Fair Grounds, who last competed in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl on December 27.
The Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile will run as the sixth race on the card with an approximate post time of 4:23 pm (CT). The field, from the rail, with riders and morning-line odds:
- Bloodline, Marcelino Pedroza, Jr , 12-1;
- Dowagiac Chief, James Graham, 8-1;
- Malibu Thunder, Ezequiel Lara, 50-1;
- Chanceux, Reylu Gutierrez., 4-1;
- Down Cold, Stewart Elliott, 15-1;
- Pure Panic, Richard Eramia, 5-1;
- Stolen Base, Giovanni Franco, 3-1;
- Kaely’s Brother, Adam Beschizza, 6-1;
- Screwball, Ry Eikleberry, 20-1;
- Grantham, Tyler Gafflione, 6-1;
- Red Run, Joel Rosario, 11-1.
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