Making his stakes debut in the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup (gr. IIIT), favored Papaw Bodie surged to the lead in the stretch to post a convincing win at Sam Houston Race Park on the night of Jan. 28 (VIDEO).
Ridden for the first time by Rosie Napravnik, Papaw Bodie won his fourth consecutive race, completing the nine-furlong distance in 1:49.84 on a firm course to defeat Proceed Bee by 1 3/4 lengths. Sent off as the 13-10 favorite in the field of seven, the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Strong Hope earned $120,000 for his owner, Connie Apostelos, and trainer Mike Maker.
Maker claimed Papaw Bodie for $50,000 out of a win at Keeneland last October. In his first start for his new connections, the dark bay or brown gelding won an allowance optional claimer at 11 furlongs on the Gulfstream Park turf Dec. 31.
Out of the In the Wings mare Trillion Wing, Papaw Bodie was bred by Omega Farm, B.D. Gibbs Farm, and Chancey Mill Farm. He sold for $150,000 at the Keeneland Association September 2008 Yearling Sale.
Papaw Bodie raced in mid-pack early while off the rail as 19-1 Little Wagon led the way while getting pressure from second choice Ioya Bigtime. Fractions, though, were moderate (:24.94, :49, 1:13.38) as Little Wagon, ridden by Bobby Walker Jr., led his pace rival by a head on the far turn.
Little Wagon continued to lead into the stretch while bearing out as Ioya Bigtime yielded. Papaw Bodie, waiting between rivals on the turn, hit an opening quickly at the head of the lane to reach the leaders. He then fought between rivals past the furlong mark to get the advantage and continued to surge to the wire.
“Papaw Bodie was great to ride," said Napravnik, the leading rider at Fair Grounds who was making a rare appearance at Sam Houston. "I had never ridden him, but he was pretty straight forward on his form. I’m very thankful for the connections in having me on him today.”
Third choice Proceed Bee rallied wide for jockey Chris Emigh on the final turn and was gaining ground late as they reached the wire. He wound up second, a half-length better than Little Wagon. Ioya Bigtime finished fourth.
Assistant Joe Sharpe saddled Papaw Bodie for Maker and talked about the horse’s transition from Gulfstream Park.
“He was coming off a mile and three-eighths and Mike does a good job of keeping him tuned up,” said Sharpe. “He had a solid work a week ago at Fair Grounds. This is a horse that keeps himself pretty fit. Rosie rode a beautiful race.”
Apostelos, of Springboro, Ohio, made the trip to Texas and picked up her first graded stakes win as an owner.
“This is a dream come true,” she said. “I got into this business a couple of years ago by way of my friend, Jeff Colombro. I have just become addicted to it! To get a graded stake so early in three years is wonderful. I am so grateful to Mike and Rosie.”
Papaw Bodie, who boosted his career bankroll to $257,211 while winning for the sixth time in 15 starts, paid $4.60, $2.40, $2.60. Proceed Bee, the only prior graded stakes winner in the field, returned $3.40 and $3.20. The exacta was worth $14.20. Little Wagon was $4.60 to show.
Ioya Bigtime was followed home by And Music Came, Col. Wright, and Dakota Gypsy.
Sam Houston reported that handle for the 10-race Connally card was $1,592,353, the sixth consecutive day since the meet began Jan. 20 that wagering surpassed $1 million.