Spooky Channel Gets Perfectly Timed Ride To Win John B. Connally Turf Cup

Trainer Mike Maker had his streak of six consecutive victories in the John B. Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, Texas, snapped last year when Brad Cox-trained Dot Matrix defeated Bemma’s Boy and Marzo from Maker’s deep stable of turf runners.

Maker came loaded again this year, with three starters in Sunday’s $200,000, Grade 3 Turf Cup, just as he did in 2020. Once again, however, he had to settle for the minor awards as 3-2 favorite Spooky Channel, from the Brian Lynch stable, collared Maker’s pace-setting Conviction Trade inside the furlong pole, then held off a furious late rally by Maker-trained Ajourneytofreedom to win by a neck.

Spooky Channel, a 6-year-old English Channel gelding owned by Terry Hamilton, was clocked in 2:30.94 on a firm grass course for the 1 1/2 miles of the Turf Cup. He paid $5 for the win, his ninth in 18 career starts. Ajourneytofreedom finished a length ahead of Conviction Trade, giving Maker a 2-3 finish for the second year in a row. Tenfold was fourth for trainer Steve Asmussen, with Ken McPeek-trained Signalman fifth in the field of a dozen older runners.

The John B. Connally Turf Cup was one of six stakes – two of them graded – offering over $1 million in purses on Sunday’s Houston Racing Festival as Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, Texas,

It was a big day for the track, with a record $5.3 million wagered on the 10-race card.

“We are thrilled with the success of this year’s Houston Racing Festival and getting a record handle of $5.3 million,” said Frank Hopf, senior director of racing. “It was a team effort from everyone at Sam Houston and our thanks go out to all the horsemen and owners for supporting our meet. This would not be possible without our horseplayers, both here in Texas and nationally. It was a great day.”

Leparoux allowed Spooky Channel to settle into fifth position after breaking from the 10-post in the three-turn Turf Cup. Rafael Hernandez put Conviction Trade in front from the start, going an opening quarter mile in :24.57, a half mile in :48.97 and six furlongs in 1:14.00. Leparoux began asking Spooky Channel to pick it up with a half mile to run, the mile clocked in 1:40.52, and by the time they reached the quarter pole, after 1 1/4 miles in 2:05.67, he was on the front-runner’s right flank.

Conviction Trade fought back and maintained a half-length lead with a furlong to run, but Spooky Channel finally put him away just as Ajourneytofreedom and Jesus Castanon emerged on the scene with a powerful stretch rally that came up just short at the wire.

“I have ridden him before and felt he would like this turf course,” said Leparoux.  “Brian and I talked and we knew he would have enough to come off the pace and make his run. He left it up to me and the horse did exactly what he hoped for.”

Spooky Channel began his racing career for Hamilton in Arizona in the care of trainer Clay Brinson, winning six of his first eight starts at Turf Paradise, including the 1 7/8-mile Hasta La Vista Handicap.

After shipping east and being transferred to Lynch’s barn (following one off-the-board finish at Canterbury Park), Spooky Channel has won three of nine, including the G3 W.L. McKnight Stakes at Gulfstream Park in January 2020. Following a sixth-place finish in the G1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park last July 4, was given some time off, then returned to be fourth in the G2 Ft. Lauderdale at Gulfstrealm Park on Dec. 12. He trained up to the Turf Cup at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida.

“It was exciting to be part of the big stakes day at Sam Houston Race Park,” said Lynch from his base in South Florida. “Spooky Channel is a true marathoner and ran a great race. Julien is a multiple Eclipse winning rider and I am one of his biggest fans. I am grateful to my owner Terry Hamilton, who is also a great friend.”

The post Spooky Channel Gets Perfectly Timed Ride To Win John B. Connally Turf Cup appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.