2015 Houston Ladies Classic

Sam Houston’s Houston Ladies Classic

Rose to GoldThis Saturday, January 24th we have the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston. I don’t normally cover Sam Houston (Dad covered this and the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes last year), but when looking over the major races for this weekend I spotted a potential play in this race and decided to give you guys my take on this year’s Houston Ladies Classic. In last year’s edition, Rose to Gold won it by 1 ½ lengths and paid $12.40 for the win. Oddly enough, Rose to Gold was the morning line favorite last year, but by post time the public had her as the 4th choice in the odds. Even Dad had her slated to run 3rd (his other two choices did not do so well, lol). This year Rose to Gold is back to defend her title, but there is a lot of strong competition fighting for that purse, so let’s see what kind of value we can spot. Hopefully, I’ll do better than the old man did last year, lol.

2015 Houston Ladies Classic

Rose to GoldThe $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic is the 8th race on the card for Sam Houston. The Houston Ladies Classic will feature a field of 8 fillies and mares 4 years old and up traveling 1 1/16 of a mile. The morning line favorite in this year’s edition is Rose to Gold at 5 to 2. I honestly can’t see why. Her last win was in this very race one year ago. She has been in 4 races since then, finishing 7th in one and 5th in the other three. Granted, two of those races were the Grade 2 Sabin at Gulfstream (7th) and the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn (5th), but the other two are non-graded events (5th in the $100,000 Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream and 5th in the $60,000 Miami Shores Handicap at Gulfstream.). Looking over Dad’s write up from last year, he made a comment about a horse in the Connally that seems to apply here. In that article, he mentioned that the third choice in the ML was undeserving of that spot and that the only reason he could see was because of that horse’s earnings. CassattAt the risk of jinxing myself, I’ll say the same about Rose to Gold. She is the top earner in this field at $986,183… but a good chunk of that is due to her win in this race last year! She has 3 Grade 3 wins under her belt, but these were back in 2013 and 2012. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but I just don’t see her winning this one. I could see her being a part of your exotic plays, don’t get me wrong, but I will truly be surprised if she wins it. For value, I have two choices that you should consider. My top pick is Cassat at 6 to 1 on the ML. Other than Rose to Gold, Cassatt is the only one who has won in Graded company. She won the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks last year in gate to wire fashion by 3 3/4 lengths, gaining ground. In this non-graded stakes company, I believe she is the stand out although the morning line suggests otherwise. She’s hot off of her last two wins, both non-graded stakes. She has the highest speed figure at today’s distance and her best dirt speed is the fastest among today’s starters. Toss in the sharp 5 furlong work on January 19th and she should be ready to roll here. Shanon NicoleShe will be battling it out with my other value play, Kiss to Remember, for the front end lead. She has primarily stuck to non-graded stakes and has put up some good efforts. Her best Graded effort (and only one, I might add) was when she finished second in the Grade 3 Charles Town Oaks. The thing that concerns me most about her is her speed figures, because they are not quite up to par. I only add her as a value play in case Cassat pushes her limits and she surprises us all (so technically she will be my longshot play, since I believe the public will ignore her). The other two to look out for and include in your exotics are Shanon Nicole and Angelica Zapata. For a superfecta, I’m looking at Cassat, Shanon Nicole, Angelica Zapata, Kiss to Remember and Rose to Gold to mix and match. Good luck everybody!




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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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