09/13/2016 3:59PM

Sam Houston moves Houston Ladies Classic to Sunday in 2017


Sam Houston Race Park will run its richest race, the Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, on Sunday, Jan. 29. The race, previously a Saturday night feature, will again share a card with the Grade 3 John Connally Turf Cup, which has been boosted in value by $50,000 to $250,000. Post for the card will be noon Central.

The changes are the most significant to Sam Houston’s stakes schedule, which was released Tuesday. The package of 20 stakes will be worth nearly $2 million. Sam Houston opens its 32-date meet Jan. 20.

The Houston Ladies Classic, a 1 1/16-mile race for older fillies and mares, is the richest Thoroughbred race in Texas. It will anchor a card of five stakes, one more than last year with the addition of the $50,000 Houston Distaff at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The Connally, which is for 4-year-olds and up, will be run at 1 1/2 miles on turf for the second year in a row. It had previously been a 1 1/8-mile turf race. Other stakes on the Houston Ladies Classic card are the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint and the $50,000 Space City.

“Our stakes schedule saw a record 22 percent growth in handle in 2016, and we want to capitalize on that momentum in 2017 with some modifications to our biggest weekend of the year, the Houston Racing Festival,” Andrea Young, president of Sam Houston, said in a press release.

Forever Unbridled won this year’s Houston Ladies Classic and one start later captured the Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park. Da Big Hoss won the Connally in 2016 and last weekend added the Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs.

Sam Houston’s meet opens with Texas Champions Weekend, when seven divisional stakes for Texas-breds will be run between Jan. 20-21.

Other highlights of the stakes schedule include the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup. The 1 1/8-mile race for 4-year-olds and up will be showcased on a card of four stakes Feb. 25. The program includes the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and the $50,000 Bucharest at five furlongs on turf.

Sam Houston will race nights on Fridays and Saturdays during the upcoming meet and has set a new noon Central post for Mondays and Tuesdays. The Houston Ladies Classic program is the lone Sunday card of the season at Sam Houston.

2017 Sam Houston stakes schedule


Fri., Jan. 20 San Jacinto F & M, 4YO & Up* 1 1/16 miles(T) 50,000
Fri., Jan. 20 Yellow Rose F & M, 4YO & Up* 6 furlongs 50,000
Fri., Jan. 20 Bara Lass F, 3YO* 6 furlongs 50,000
Sat., Jan. 21 Star of Texas 4YO & Up* 1 mile 50,000
Sat., Jan. 21 Richard King 4YO & Up* 1 1/18 miles (T) 50,000
Sat., Jan. 21 Spirit of Texas 4YO & Up* 6 furlongs 50,000
Sat., Jan. 21 Groovy 3YO* 6 furlongs 50,000
Sun., Jan. 29 Houston Ladies Classic (Grade 3) F & M, 4YO & Up 1 1/16 miles 400,000
Sun., Jan. 29 John Connally Turf Cup(Grade 3) 4YO & Up 1 1/2 miles(T) 250,000
Sun., Jan. 29 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint 4YO & Up 5 furlongs(T) 75,000
Sun., Jan. 29 Space City 3YO 6 furlongs 50,000
Sun., Jan. 29 Houston Distaff F & M, 4YO & Up# 1 1/16 miles(T) 50,000
Sat., Feb. 11 Sam Houston Sprint Cup 4YO & Up, 6 furlongs 50,000
Sat., Feb. 11 Houston Turf Stakes 4YO & Up* 1 1/16 miles (T) 50,000
Sat., Feb. 18 Texas Stallion Stakes 3YO** 6 furlongs 75,000
Sat., Feb. 18 Texas Stallion Stakes F, 3YO** 6 furlongs 75,000
Sat., Feb. 25 Bucharest 4YO & Up# 5 furlongs(T) 50,000
Sat., Feb. 25 Maxxam Gold Cup 4YO & Up 1 1/8 miles 100,000
Sat., Feb. 25 Jersey Lilly F & M, 4YO & Up 1 1/16 miles (T) 50,000
Sat., Feb. 25 Texas Heritage 3YO 1 1/16 miles 50,000

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