Connally BC Turf (Grade 3)- $200.000 Purse
HOU- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Half on the Turf
January 28, 2018
This Sunday, our turf runners that like to keep running and running get their chance to shine in the 11th running of the Grade 3 Connally BC Turf. Looking back in the history of the race, Xray Eyes had perfect vision in winning the race in back to back years, in 2007 and 2008. Also on the past winners list, we have Charming Behrens and Sub Zero. Back in those years, however, hte race was run at nine furlongs. Only in 2016 did the race stretch out to it’s current twelve furlong distance, the maximum within our game. We have eight going in this field, including two runners from the BC Turf, as well as another who enters the race red hot, on a four race winning streak. It’s a pretty good blend of horses, and that should lead to an interesting race. Let’s take a look at our field!
#1- Love In Charge (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by J Talamo)- On the rail, this Cherokee Sunset colt is coming off a mid-pack showing in the BC Turf. To get to that race, he ran off a streak of four wins in a row that began modestly at GG, before culminating in the DMR Handicap, a Grade 2 event in August. In that race, he impressively came from way out of it, trailing by eight lengths with three furlongs to go (and at one point being “off the viewer” at thirteen lengths out), to get the win. A month later at the Kentucky Cup Turf, he was not as far out, and ended up third. History shows that he can go wire to wire as well, so no one better predict too hard the type of pace that Love In Charge will run.
#2- Rio Cibuco (La Canada Racehorses, ridden by J R Leparoux)- Two months ago, La Canada Racehorses took a bit of a gamble in running Rio Cibuco in the Grade 3 Smith Handicap at AQU off an impressive win at BEL in an allowance. Rio Cibuco stepped up and won the race, and looked good in the process. He has not raced since, but it is worth knowing that he has won all three of his race going longer then a mile and a sixteenth. The trainer turned the horse around and got quite the career out of a $2.510 auction purchase. He came on too late for BC consideration last year, but we’ll see what 2018 has in store for him. I believe it will start with a win.
#3- Tin Lizzie (Stald Gullis, ridden by R J Albarado)- The six year old gelding heads to the track for the 38th time, and it’s probably about the 20th time (or so it seems) that I have had him in one of my previews. Only once in 2017, and it was his first race of that year, did he hit the board, and he has not won since late 2016. He was dropped into a couple of open allowance for his last two races, and could not get it turned around there, either. Speed figures are beginning to settle into the lower 90’s for him as well. Perhaps he can get a career jolt here, but I will look elsewhere.
#4- No Glaring At Me (Black N Gold Stable, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- The trainer has done a fantastic job with his one, taking him from the small claiming ranks to becoming a stake winner. Until the middle of August, he was regularly seen in claimers, but Black N Gold picked him up for a $7.500 tag at that time, and moved him into a smaller statebred allowance. That worked out perfectly, as No Glaring At Me won the race, and it’s been all uphill since. The HOL Turf Cup (Grade 2) saw a midpack finish in November, but he would close out the year by winning the $100.000 Jerkens at GP. He likes to come from behind on the track, which is fitting, because his overall career is following the same path.
#5- Purely Perfect (Night Rider Stables, ridden by J J Castellano)- After seeing a few others in here rise up from the smaller ranks to the stake level, Purely Perfect has role models he can choose from for this race. Making his 20th start, he is a veteran, and he knows how to win, doing so seven times, but other then the a $30.000 TUP stake, which he did win, he’s never run at the stake level before. His last two starts, an optional claimer and a regular claimer, saw him dominate on soft turf. There’s only a ten percent chance of rain for this race. He’s another that likes to come from off the pace.
#6- Romantic Pirate (Drabfantasy, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Back in September, Romantic Pirate picked up a big win in the $600.000 Kentucky Cup Turf, a Grade 3. That race followed a competitive showing in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, but he has not followed that up further. After winning the KY Cup Turf, he was sent out to the track on short rest for the Grade 1 Hirsch Turf Classic, and was a non-factor. Two months later in the Smith Handicap, won by Rio Cibuco, he was again a non-factor. He has now had two months to rest. Hopefully, he’s ready to recapture that old form.
#7- Techfluence (The Sidley Stud, ridden by R Bejarano)- The trainer is off to a cold start in 2018, just 1-for-20 as of press time, but all it might take is one of his stars to turn that around. Techfluence is just about a buck short of being a $1,000.000 career winner, with a three race winning streak last summer playing a big role in that. The Grade 1 Northern Dancer BC Turf at WO was the biggest win in that stretch. Since then, he’s raced twice and has rested since his fourth place finish at the BC Turf at DMR. As he begins his 2018, this is a field he is capable of beating, but also one that will give him a very worthy challenge.
#8- Team Three (Court Jester Racing, ridden by P Husbands)- You have to go back to November 2016 to find the last time that Team Three won a race. Last year was a winless effort, as he ran in a mixture of graded and ungraded stakes, plus some optional claimers. His best effort was in July, running third to Pink Devil and Exactly As Planned, certainly no shame in that, in the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes at AP. That race seems to be more of an outlier then the norm, though in his recent performances. If he can re-discover what he did that day, then he can be competitive with this group, but otherwise, he’ll likely run like the longshot he figures to be.