The Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, to be run at the distance of one and one-half miles, attracted a field of nine, including two-time champion Bigger Picture on Sunday, January 27 at Sam Houston Race Park.
Also on Sunday's card is the Grade 3, $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the richest race of the Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meet.
Owned by Three Diamonds Farm, he will attempt to be the second turf specialist in Connally history to win three times. That feat was accomplished by Glen Warren's Candid Glen, who was victorious in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
||Eddie Martin, Jr.
||Some in Tieme (BRZ)
|Efren Loza, Jr.
Bigger Picture, an 8-year-old son of Badge of Silver, bred in Kentucky by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, will make his 38th career start on January 27. His 11 lifetime wins include five graded stakes. He eclipsed the $1 million earnings mark winning last year's Connally Turf Cup, and has amassed $1,374,135 since making his debut in 2013.
The chestnut gelding made his last start at Del Mar, running second in the Grade 2, Hollywood Turf Cup. His trainer, Michael Maker was pleased with the January 12 work by Bigger Picture at Palm Meadows in Florida, where he covered five furlongs in 1.02.80.
"He's doing great; ready to go," said Maker of Bigger Picture.
Jose Ortiz, his winning pilot in both Connally victories, will guide the 4-5 morning line choice from post position four.
Maker and Three Diamonds Farm will also run Markitoff, a 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway, who will be ridden by Mike Smith. The Kentucky-bred competed in two of the premier turf stakes last year at Woodbine, finishing fourth in the Grade 1, Northern Dancer.
Maker has won six of the last seven editions of the Connally with Papa Bodie in 2012; Admiral Kitten in 2014; Coalport in 2015; Da Big Hoss as well as the last two years with Bigger Picture.
Some In Tieme (BRZ), runner-up in last year's edition of the Connally, returns for trainer Efren Loza, Jr. The 7-year-old son of Shirocco has earned $470,468 in 19 lifetime starts. He exits a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3, Sycamore Stakes last October at Keeneland.
Team Colors, a 7-year-old son of Street Cry (IRE), was claimed last summer at Saratoga by owner Brad Grady. He will make his 28th career start for trainer Joe Sharp with Adam Beschizza making his Sam Houston debut.
Trainer Tom Morley ships in 9-year-old Cooptado (ARG), who has earned $1.1 million in 44 starts. He will break from the far outside post under jockey Gabriel Saez.
The Connally Turf Cup was awarded Grade 3 status in 2006 and will run as the eighth race of the card, with an approximate post time of 5:15 pm (Central).