Florida invader Stately Victor returns to the lawn for the first time since last summer when he takes on eight rivals in the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Sam Houston Race Park the night of Jan. 29.
Winner of the the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) over Keeneland's Polytrack at odds of 40-1 last spring, Stately Victor makes his first try on grass since running fifth in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) at Colonial Downs July 17. Owned by Jack and Thomas Conway and trained by Mike Maker, the 4-year-old son of Ghostzapper has one victory in four starts on the turf in his 15-race career.
Alan Garcia, who was aboard Stately Victor in the Bluegrass, comes to Houston to ride the bay colt for the first time since they teamed for a seventh-place showing in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in June. Stately Victor also ran eighth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Garcia in the irons.
Stately Victor, who does his best running from off the pace, last raced Dec. 18 on the Polytrack at Turfway Park where he was nosed as the 4-5 pick by Timeless Fashion in the Prairie Bayou Stakes. His last victory came in the Ontario Derby by 3 1/4 lengths at Woodbine Sept. 25. Though he has just three wins in his career, Stately Victor leads the field in earnings with $628,652.