03/15/2006 1:00AM

Sam Houston track report


Rapid Proof is back. The winner of last year's $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf will make his first start in six months Friday night in the featured eighth race at Sam Houston Race Park.

A 1 1/16-mile allowance on turf, the race will serve as his springboard to this year's Connally, said his trainer, Hal Wiggins. The 1 1/8-mile Connally will be held on April 8, for the first time as a Grade 3.

Rapid Proof has put in a nice series of works at his Oaklawn Park base for his return. He went six furlongs in a bullet 1:15.20 in his final work on March 10. Rapid Proof last raced in September, finishing an even fourth in the $125,000 DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap at Remington Park.

Last year, Rapid Proof was a head winner of the Connally under Brian Hernandez Jr., who has the mount on Friday night. Rapid Proof could get a stalking trip in the allowance behind Gondolieri, who tends to be close and who will break from post 3. Rapid Proof drew gate 6.

Wiggins has won the Connally three times, with his other winner being Chorwon, who won the race in 1998 and 1999.

The chief threats to Rapid Proof on Friday include Gondolieri, A R Crackers, and Seainsky.

Nominations for the Connally close March 29.