10/01/2014 11:44AM

Sam Houston stakes schedule worth $1.7 million

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The $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic and the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup will again serve as the centerpiece of the Sam Houston Race Park meet when the stakes share a program Jan. 24. Sam Houston released its 20-race, $1.7 million stakes schedule Wednesday. The track opens its 32-date season Jan. 16.

The Houston Ladies Classic will anchor a card of four stakes worth a cumulative $725,000, making the program the richest Thoroughbred card in Texas. The Ladies, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, will be supported by the Connally, for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on turf, as well as the $50,000 Allen’s Landing for 3-year-olds and the $75,000 Turf Sprint. The Ladies is the richest Thoroughbred race in Texas.

The $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup will lead another notable grouping of stakes Feb. 28. The 1 1/8-mile race for 4-year-olds and up will share a program with the $50,000 Texas Heritage for 3-year-olds at a mile and the $50,000 Jersey Lilly for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Sam Houston’s opening weekend will feature seven divisional stakes for Texas-breds on Jan. 16-17. Each race is worth $50,000.

In a wagering-format change, Sam Houston plans to offer a $20,000-guaranteed pool on its late pick four each Saturday. The 50-cent-minimum bet will run on races 7-10. The track also plans to reduce the minimum on its High 5 wager to 20 cents.

Sam Houston will race nights on Fridays and Saturdays and during the afternoon on Mondays and Tuesdays.