One year after prevailing in a three-horse stretch battle over grade 1 winner Serengeti Empress and Street Band, Lady Apple will try to win the Houston Ladies Classic Stakes (G3) a second straight year when she faces an expected six other older fillies and mares in the 1 1/16-mile test Jan. 31 at Sam Houston Race Park.
The $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic is the featured race on Sam Houston’s biggest race day of the year, a 10-race card featuring six stakes Sunday. The Houston Racing Festival card will feature a special afternoon post time of 1:45 p.m. CT, with the Houston Ladies Classic scheduled for 5:32 p.m. CT.
While Phoenix Thoroubhbred III’s Lady Apple is the defending race winner, the 5-year-old daughter of Curlin has dropped six straight races since that effort. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Lady Apple will be making her seasonal debut after closing out 2020 with a third place finish in the Joseph E. Spanky Broussard Memorial Stakes Dec. 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Video: Houston Ladies Classic S. (G3)
Asmussen believes the Broussard, which was Lady Apple‘s first start in more than two months, served as a good prep for Sunday’s test. She has delivered three works at Fair Grounds since that one-mile and 70-yard race, including a five-furlong breeze in 1:01 Jan. 11 to earn the bullet.
“She needed that race, and I had no problem with the result,” Asmussen said. “Lady Apple is a quality filly who loves the track surface at Sam Houston and is training really well.”
Asmussen also will send out Motion Emotion for MyRacehorse.com and Spendthrift Farm. The stakes-winning 5-year-old daughter of Take Charge Indy is looking for her first graded stakes win, although she has placed in three previous graded stakes. She’ll be making her debut for Asmussen after being purchased by Spendthrift for $800,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale.
“She’s been training like a steam engine,” Asmussen said. “We are fortunate that Spendthrift bought her at the Night of the Stars Sale and look forward to running her in the Ladies Classic.”
The even-money morning line favorite is Letruska, a St. George Stable homebred who won graded stakes in two of her final three starts of 2020, ending the season with a front-running 6 3/4-length score in the Rampart Stakes (G3) Dec. 12 at Gulfstream Park.
“She’s a filly with a great deal of speed,” said trainer Fausto Gutierrez. “We removed the blinkers and felt that she finished much better. I ran at Sam Houston 20 years ago and know it has an excellent track surface. They have always attracted quality fields for the Ladies Classic and I feel that this will be a perfect start for her year. Our plan is to head to Oaklawn Park and point to the Apple Blossom (G1).”
Also entering off a strong finish to 2020 is Walking L Thoroughbreds’ Jeweled Princess, who reached the wire first in five of her final six races of the year (she was disqualified to second for interference in an allowance-level win in September at Churchill Downs.) The 4-year-old daughter of Cairo Prince earned her first stakes win in her most recent start, taking the She’s All In Stakes Dec. 18 at Remington Park.
After watching favored Serengeti Empress finish second in last year’s Houston Ladies Classic, the connections of owner Joel Politi and trainer Tom Amoss are back with Figure It Out, who rolled to an allowance level win in an off-the-turf race Jan. 1 at Fair Grounds.
Entries: Houston Ladies Classic S. (G3)
Sam Houston Race Park, Sunday, January 31, 2021, Race 8
- Grade III
- 1 1/16m
- 4 yo’s & up Fillies and Mares
- 5:32 PM (local)