Tactical edge for Empress in Houston Ladies Classic

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

January 24th, 2020

A small, but fantastic, field of six will contest the $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) at Sam Houston on Sunday. One of six stakes races on the robust card, it boasts the most star power with a trio of Grade 1 winners set to go postward in the 1 1/16-mile test. They will be joined by two graded heroines and a recent stakes queen.

Kentucky Oaks (G1) vixen #1 Serengeti Empress (7-5) draws the rail for her 4-year-old debut. Tom Amoss starlet is the pace of the race from the inside, and she will be tough to upend as the controlling speed in the affair.

Serengeti Empress finished a strong third after setting the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) in her sophomore finale. I expect her to dictate things from the break with Flavien Prat coming in to ride.

#6 Street Band (5-2) had a sensational 2019 with a trio of graded stakes victories, headlined by a stellar triumph in the deep Cotillion (G1) at Parx. Conditioned by Larry Jones, the daughter of Istan was unplaced in the Distaff, but she is training well since and figures to have a big say in the outcome from off the pace. Regular rider Sophie Doyle has the call.

#5 Mylady Curlin (7-2) has won or placed in each of her 10 starts last campaign, capping a fine season with a clear score in the Falls City (G2) at Churchill Downs. Brad Cox trainee has done some of her best work off a layoff, and she has trained forwardly in preparation of her 5-year-old bow. Tyler Gaffalione will be in the stirrups.

I have respect for each contender in the star-studded field.

Houston Ladies Classic wagers

  • $20 Win: #1 Serengeti Empress ($20)
  • $2 Trifecta Box: 1,5,6 ($12)