Fort Prado Takes Connally Turf for 3rd Straight

(from Sam Houston Race Park release)
Fort Prado lived up to his 4-5 favoritism in Saturday night's $193,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IIIT) at Sam Houston Race Park by winning his third consecutive stakes and second graded stakes of the year for owners Patricia, Ryan, and David Block.

The striking 5-year-old gray son of El Prado won the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Louisiana Downs Jan. 21 and followed that up with a victory in the $125,000 Tampa Breeders' Cup Feb. 25. David Block bred the winner in Illinois.

Trainer Jeff Trosclair and jockey Robby Albarado, who rode Rod and Staff to victory in the 2000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, made winning the Houston track's first graded stakes event look very easy, although it didn't start out smoothly.

Fort Prado broke through the gate before the start and had to be reloaded. After that, Albarado settled Fort Prado in mid-pack as Prince T, Twilight Vision, and Toratora set the pace, completing the first quarter in :24 2/5 and the half-mile in :48 3/5. Fort Prado slipped through an opening on the rail and drew off by three lengths, completing the 1 1/8-mile test over a firm turf course in 1:49.41.

"I was just a passenger tonight," said Albarado, who flew in from Oaklawn for the race. "The couple times I have ridden him, he does all the work. I just guide him. I'm so appreciative of Chris and Jeff flying me into Houston to ride him. I had a fortunate trip and was able to save ground."

"I thought it was a great performance tonight," added Trosclair, who said Fort Prado would be competing in Kentucky and Chicago in the near future. "Robby did an excellent job with him. When the gap opened at the head of the stretch, he just exploded. A horse like this just makes our job very easy."

Fort Prado, who paid $3.60, $2.60, and $2.20, earned $103,800 for the victory. Dynareign, who ran third in the 2005 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf, closed gamely under rider John Byrne for second, returning $12.60 and $7.40. The exacta returned $46.40. Multiple stakes winner Dontbotherknocking was $4.20 to show.

Second choice Waupaca, A R Crackers, Prince T, defending champion, Rapid Proof, Seainsky, Twilight Vision, Toratora, and Doctor Doctor Mrmd completed the order of finish.

(Chart, Equibase)