Admiral Kitten won the 2014 John B. Connally Turf Cup.

Admiral Kitten won the 2014 John B. Connally Turf Cup.

Coady Photography

Penn Gaming Series Opens at Sam Houston

Points are awarded during big-event programs at four of the company's racetracks.

Julien Leparoux, Mike Maker, and Ken and Sarah Ramsey, who teamed to win the John B. Connally Turf Cup (gr. IIIT) at Sam Houston Race Park Jan. 25, top the standings in the jockey, trainer, and owner categories, respectively, for the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge.

The series inaugurated this year by Penn National Gaming Inc. ties together more than 20 stakes worth $5.5 million at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Sam Houston, and Zia Park. The challenge includes tie-ins between groups of races in the series, as well as bonuses and prizes that include free nominations, refund of entry and starter fees, and trips to the PNGI-owned M Resort in Las Vegas.

Leparoux's victory in the Connally Turf Cup aboard Admiral Kitten went along with his second-place finish aboard Artest in the Champion Energy Services Stakes and a fourth-place finish with Moon Philly in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic to give him 42 points for the night. Jockeys Luis Saez and Rosie Napravnik, each with 12 points, share the runner-up spot in the standings.

Maker not only saddled Admiral Kitten to victory but also sent out King David to a fourth-place finish in the Connally Turf Cup. That, coupled with Kowboy Boots' second in the Allen's Landing Stakes and Awesome Flower's start in the Ladies Classic, gave Maker 40 points, 16 ahead of Michael Matz.

The Ramseys have 30 points in the challenge based on their ownership of Admiral Kitten, Kowboy Boots, and Awesome Flower. Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti, who own Ladies Classic winner Rose to Gold, have 22 points.

All owners, trainers, and jockeys who participate in the unrestricted stakes on the designated event days will receive two points. In addition, points are awarded for top-five finishes in varying scales, based on the value or grade of the race.

The challenge is divided into six divisions based on race type: 3-year-old and up turf route, 3-year-old and up turf sprint, 3-year-old and up dirt sprint, 3-year-old and up filly and mare dirt sprint, 3-year-old and up dirt route, and 3-year-old and up filly and mare dirt route.

The next event in the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge is the April 19 Charles Town Classic (gr. II) program.