01/25/2015 8:51AM

Cassatt collects front-running win in Houston Ladies Classic

Coady Photography
Cassatt, with Kerwin Clark aboard, prevails by a neck over Angelica Zapata.

Fox Hill Farms, trainer Larry Jones, and the stallion Tapit collected their second win in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic in three years Saturday night, when Cassatt led throughout for a neck win in the richest Thoroughbred race in Texas. She followed the lead of Joyful Victory, who won the inaugural Houston Ladies Classic in 2013 for Fox Hill, Jones, and Tapit.

The Houston Ladies Classic anchored a card of four stakes that included the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup won by Coalport and the $75,000 Turf Sprint captured by Heitai. The $50,000 Allen’s Landing was won by Exodus, giving Fox Hill, Jones, and jockey Kerwin Clark a stakes double on the night.

Cassatt ($3.40), ridden by Clark, moved to the lead soon after the start of the Houston Ladies Classic, and proceeded to take the field through fractions of 24.29 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.85 for the half-mile, and 1:11.19 for six furlongs. Cassatt maintained her advantage to the wire, holding off a late-surging Angelica Zapata, who was second by a half-length over third-place finisher Shanon Nicole.

“I was glad to see the wire hurry up and get there because they went pretty quick,” Jones said. “They made a race out of it. She’s a classy filly and just now starting to get the hang of it.”

Cassatt, who was winning her third straight stakes behind the Zia Park Oaks and the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.96.

Jones told Sam Houston officials Cassatt could make her next start in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita on March 14. Joyful Victory won that race one start after taking the Houston Ladies Classic.

Angelica Zapata, a 10-time stakes winner, is headed to auction next month, according to a release from Sam Houston.  ] 

 “That was her last race, unless she does not meet her reserve,” said trainer Ron Pellegrini. 

Cassatt earned $232,800 for her win in the Houston Ladies Classic. She has now won 6 of 9 starts and $603,033. Cassatt has picked up four of her wins in stakes, among them the Grade 3 Monmouth Park Oaks. She was bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant Farm.

Sam Houston bundled its stakes into a pick four and with favorites winning each leg it paid $27.80 on a $2 ticket. The wager had a $100,000 guaranteed minimum pool, with the final pool $108,503.