Another Mystery (left) and Fantasioso (middle) tied for victory in the John B. Connally Turf Cup, with Strong Tide a header back in third on the wire
To say history was in play at the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup Grade 3 on Sunday afternoon at Sam Houston Race Park would be a major understatement. Since its first run in 1995, the race has attracted some of the best turf horses in the country. On Sunday, not one but two turf specialists added their names to the list of John B. Connally Turf Cup champions and history was written as the race ended in a tie for victory for the first time.
The 1 1/2 mile turf event ended in thrilling fashion with a three-horse-on-the-wire photo-finish. The Turf Cup has always drawn the best turf horses from across the country, and Sunday’s race was no exception as Another Mystery, out of Illinois with races from the Midwest and West Coast, shared victory with Fantasioso, an Argentinian race, based on the east coast. .
Fantasioso, ridden by James Graham, a 7-year-old horse by Strategic Prince, was bred by Luther Eduardo Carlos in Argentina. It is co-owned by Bloom Racing Stable and its trainer, Ignacio Correas, IV.
Although he had already made 12 starts over the distance, Fantasioso was narrowing his last race, the two-mile H. Allen Jerkins Stakes at Gulfstream in which he finished third. He hit the board in several stakes but was looking for an elusive victory.
“He’s such a cool horse,” said co-owner Jeff Bloom. “It was a well deserved win as he was close in so many of his races. James rode him perfectly and it was so rewarding to see him gain graded participation in the United States.
Fantasioso won several Graduated Participations in his native Argentina, but this was his first Graduated Participation victory in North America. He has earned $259,539 in 32 career starts and has cashed in 19 starts, including six wins.
Graham was able to close through slow fractions and create the travel his horse needed.
“They went slow past us, but he hurt his back and I was happy to finally win a Connally Cup,” said Graham, who made the trip to Sam Houston from Fair Grounds. “This horse has a good kick and I appreciated the opportunity to ride for Ignacio and Jeff.”
Another Mystery is a 6-year-old horse from Temple City, bred and owned by Team Block and trained by Chris Block. It was the second Connally Turf Cup win for Team Block, which also brought Fort Prado into the winner’s circle in 2006.
“Two years ago he raced in the Connally after a ten day rest,” Block said. “He has matured a lot and as my father would say, he has been screaming for three rounds. He rested well and trained well before the race. The Ioya family is all grass and Jareth gave it a great trick.
Jareth Loveberry got the call on Another Mystery after riding the horse twice at the fairgrounds, including a victory in the Bob F. Wright Memorial Stakes. He’s multiple wide bets placed with $358,000 in earnings and earned his seventh career win in 24 starts.
“He ran a really good race and handled the grass course well today,” Loveberry said. “He was grabbing the bit and had his head down at the right time. I want to thank Chris and the whole team for putting it together.
He will rest and then run to Fair Grounds, according to Block. Jeff Bloom said Fantasioso will likely be headed to Keeneland.
The final time for the stake was 2:31.28. Both horses closed in from distance to hit the wire together after letting Dyn O Mite and Strong Tide set the fractions up front. Strong Tide held on for the photo-finish on the wire and placed third.
Strong Tide is a homebred for Michael and Penny Lauer of Indiana; Penny Lauer owns and Michael Lauer coaches the 5-year-old son of the English Channel. Geovanni Franco traveled to Houston to ride Strong Tide, which he also rode to victory in an optional claiming event at Oaklawn on their last start.
Hierarchy and Corey Lanerie led the rest of the field in fourth place, followed by leader Dyn O Mite, favorite Ajourneytofreedom, Malthael, Decision Maker, Tide of the Sea, Logical Myth, Parrot Head and Conviction Trade.
The John B. Connally Turf achieved Grade 3 status in 2006 and boasts a solid list of past winners including Chorwon, Warleigh, Fort Prado, Rod and Staff, Swift Warrior as well as three-time champions Candid Glen and Bigger Picture.
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