Schramsberg, a regally bred son of Storm Cat out of the champion Serena's Song, registered his first graded stakes victory when he swept to a 2 1/4-length win in the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the Sam Houston Race Park turf course on the night of Jan. 29 (VIDEO).
Chris Landeros rode the 5-year-old to victory at the Houston, Texas track for owner Bobby Joe Hammer and trainer Chris Hartman.
Hartman took the blinkers off Schramsberg, who was able to settle just off the leaders while racing on the inside until swinging out in upper stretch. He came home strongly to gain the lead from And Music Came approaching mid-stretch and drew off impressively while completing the 1 1/8-mile trip in 1:50.22 over a firm turf course.
The closer Southern Anthem, with James Graham aboard, finished second, 1 1/4 lengths clear of the 3-2 pick Stately Victor , ridden by Alan Garcia under top weight of 120 pounds. The favorite, no factor early, rallied wide into the stretch but was no threat to Schramsberg, who drew away from Southern Anthem in the final furlong.
And Music Came, who set a pedestrian pace for a half-mile (:25.26, :49.38) finished fourth, followed by Deputiformer, who led after six furlongs (1:12.67) but faltered in the stretch drive. Fifteen Love, Spinning Touch, and Barrier Reef completed the finish in the eight-horse field.
Schramsberg, bred in Kentucky by the Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust, won for the first time since taking the Remington Green at Remington Park in October. He was coming off a fifth-place effort in the Winsham Lad Handicap at Sunland Park Jan. 8 when he set the pace and faded.
The Connally victory, worth $120,000, was Schramsberg's fifth in 17 lifetime races and boosted the chestnut horse's earnings to $327,126.
Schramsberg carried 117 pounds and paid $7.60, $3.80, and $2.60 as the the third choice. Southern Anthem returned $3.20 and $2.40 and rounded out a $23.20 exacta. Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner Stately Victor, shipping from Florida for trainer MIke Maker, paid $2.20 to show in his first try on turf since finishing fifth in the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) last summer at Colonial Park.