09/10/2013 1:35PM

Sam Houston stakes schedule topped by Houston Ladies Classic

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Sam Houston Race Park will again pack its richest stakes into a single program next year when the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic shares a card with the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup on Jan. 25. The races will anchor a schedule of 20 stakes worth nearly $1.7 million during the meet, which opens Jan. 17. Sam Houston will race 32 dates through March 9.

The Houston Ladies Classic, a 1 1/16-mile stakes for fillies and mares, had its inaugural running this past January when won by Joyful Victory. The race will again be part of a program of four stakes worth $725,000, making the card Texas’s richest for Thoroughbreds. The Connally is for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on turf, while the remaining races are the $75,000 Champion Energy and the $50,000 Allen’s Landing.

The March 1 card features both the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race for 4-year-olds and up, and the $50,000 Texas Heritage, a mile race for 3-year-olds that was won this year by Departing. Sam Houston will open its meet with two nights of stakes for Texas-breds, Jan. 17-18. Seven divisional races will be run those days, for total purses of $350,000.

Sam Houston has added Tuesdays to its calendar for the upcoming meet, replacing Sundays. The track will race four days a week, with a 7 p.m. Central post on Fridays and Saturdays and a 1 p.m. post on Mondays and Tuesdays.