We have another full slate of horse racing action on Sunday. It was a busy day yesterday, and the same goes for today. Nine racecourses will be called on at BetOnline, so there is an ample sample size of ponies to handicap on Sunday. Sam Houston Race Park is home to the biggest races. It’s a rare day in the spotlight for Sam Houston, which has six stakes races on Sunday. The feature race of the day in the US is the $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (Gr. 3).
This is the biggest race of the weekend. Sam Houston Park also has a big turf race on the schedule today. The running of the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup (Gr. 3) is on the docket as well. There is also the $200,000 Texas Turf Mile (Black Type). The Houston Ladies Classic is the race that I’m interested in the most. It was a winning day during a stakes day at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. The difference between going 2-1 and 1-2 hinged on Medina Spirit in the Robert B. Lewis.
What a hard-fought win it was for Medina Spirit, as he fought off two foes in the stretch to win a three-way photo finish. If Medina Spirit continues to show improvement, a trip to the Kentucky Derby could be in the cards. As far as Sunday is concerned, we’re at Sam Houston Race Park for a day of stakes racing. There is a total of $1,080,500 in prize money available. This is the biggest day on the calendar for Sam Houston Race Park. Head below for our free Sam Houston Race Park picks for January 31, 2021.
Post Time: 1:45 p.m. CST
Distance:5 ½ Furlongs
Race 1 is a 5 ½ furlong race for a $21,500 purse on Sunday with eight horses scheduled to run. Show Me the Best and Red Bottom Rebel should be near the front at the wire in this event. Show Me the Best will line up right next to Red Bottom Rebel from the No. 2 post position. Show Me the Best has finished in the top-3 in three straight outings after opening in 4th on November 27, 2019.
Since then, Show Me the Best has gone 3rd, 2nd, 3rd. In her best performance, Show Me the Best placed 2nd behind Sugar and Sass by 2 ¼ lengths in a $31,000 outing. Show Me the Best followed up to show in a $31,000 event on November 9. Down in class to a $21,500 race on Sunday, it’s hard not to expect a standout performance from Show Me the Best. Is that going to result in a win? It should be close against Red Bottom Rebel.
Red Bottom Rebel has finished 6th, 4th, 2nd, 3rd in her career and with a good showing can easily win here. In her previous two outings, Red Bottom Rebel placed 2nd behind a half length behind Microcap against tougher competition at Churchill Downs on November 25. She came back on January 21 to show 3rd in her debut at Sam Houston. Red Bottom Rebel is a major contender if she wants to run today.
Race 6 – Stronerside Sprint Stakes
Post Time: 4:25 p.m. CST
The Stronerside Sprint Stakes is a $75,000 event on the dirt covering 6 furlongs. This is the smallest stakes race at Sam Houston Race Park on Sunday. It should be a good one, though, notably between the horses on opposite ends of the gate. Nitrous and Hollis should give a good go at the top prize in this race. Look for out Hollis from the outside in this one. Hollis is 6 for 14 in his career and has one stakes win on his resume.
He’s appeared in four stakes races in his career, including in his most recent outing on December 19. Hollis showed 3rd in that race, the running of the $75,000 Richard R. Scherer Stakes on December 19. This is a $120,000 horse that should be able to keep up at the $75,000 level. Besides Nitrous, there likely isn’t much competition for Hollis. That said, he didn’t get lucky starting from the far outside in a 6-furlong assignment.
Nitrous is on the other side from the No. 1 post position. He is 4 for 18 in his career and fresh off a win on November 26 in the $125,000 Thanksgiving Classic Stakes. This was after showing 3rd in the $200,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes (Gr. 3). Nitrous also has Grade 1 experience, including the $400,000 Woody Stephens which he placed 2nd in. Nitrous is the only horse in this race with graded experience. Nitrous looks like the play for the win.
Race 8 – Houston Ladies Classic
Post Time: 5:32 p.m. CST
Distance:1 1/16 Miles
The $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (Gr. 3) is the biggest race of the weekend in the US. A purse of $300,000 is up for grabs for 1 1/16 miles of racing on the dirt. This is another case of two horses on opposite sides of the gate with a good chance of striking gold. Motion Emotion and Letruska should provide a good account in this contest. Motion Emotion gets the inside out of the gate and has been in good form of late.
She finished 2nd in three straight performances, including an impressive performance in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Stakes (Gr. 2) at Churchill Downs on June 27 two races ago. Overall, Motion Emotion is 3 for 16 in her career, with her most recent win on November 27, 2019 in the Zia Park Oaks. It’s worth noting that none of her wins have been a graded race. In her latest assignment, Motion Emotion finished 4th in the $500,000 Personal Ensign Stakes (Gr. 1) on August 1.
Letruska is coming from the outside, but at 1 1/16 miles should be fine with that. She has been a winning machine, with 11 wins in 15 outings Letruska started off her career with an insane win streak of seven straight races. Her form is still present as well. Letruska is a winner in two of her previous two entries, winning the $125,000 Shuvee Stakes (Gr. 3) on August 30, and then a win most recently in the $100,000 Rampart Stakes (Gr. 3) on December 12. There isn’t much to dislike about Letruska going into Sunday. It isn’t going to be easy, but expect Letruska to edge this field out.