Sunday’s $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) was one for the history books at Sam Houston, as Fantasioso, Another Mystery, and Strong Tide flashed across the wire in unison. The suspense of the stretch drive was prolonged several minutes as the photo-finish was scrutinized. The 9.40-1 Fantasioso and 23.80-1 Another Mystery proved inseparable, resulting in a dead-heat for the win, and Strong Tide was an agonizingly close third.
Both winners were achieving new career milestones. Bloom Racing Stable and trainer Ignacio Correas’ Fantasioso, twice a Group 3 winner in his native Argentina, earned his first victory in North America. Team Block’s homebred Another Mystery was notching his first graded win, and adding another chapter to the legacy of his family.
Strong Tide, also in pursuit of a graded laurel, lay closer to the early pace than the rivals who edged him on the line. Stalking Dyn O Mite through splits of :24.30, :50.54, 1:15.48, 1:41.18, and 2:06.64 on the firm course, Strong Tide struck the front in upper stretch.
But Fantasioso was already advancing for James Graham, and the import grappled with Strong Tide in a battle. Another Mystery, who had been reserved a little further back by Jareth Loveberry, followed Fantasioso into the lane.
Still with work to do a furlong out, Another Mystery steadily closed to join the duelists, and by the end of the 1 1/2-mile affair, the Chris Block charge had the momentum. The 123-pound co-highweight, spotting seven pounds to Fantasioso and three to Strong Tide, just got up to force the dead-heat in 2:31.28. Another Mystery sparked a $23.60 win mutuel, and Fantasioso paid $10.80.
The trio pulled four lengths clear of Hierarchy in fourth. Dyn O Mite tired to fifth, followed by 8-5 favorite Ajourneytofreedom, who was unable to add to trainer Mike Maker’s prolific record in this race. Next came stablemate Malthael; Decision Maker; Tide of the Sea, third of Maker’s runners; Logical Myth; Parrot Head; and Conviction Trade, who broke slowly, made an early move from last to attend Dyn O Mite, and gave way on the final turn. Also-eligibles Celerity and Shady McGee stayed in the barn.
Fantasioso’s record now stands at 32-6-7-6, $259,539. The bay veteran won or placed in 10 stakes in his homeland, including minor awards in back-to-back runnings of the Gran Premio Copa de Oro (G1) as well as the 2019 Gran Premio Miguel Martinez de Hoz (G1) and 2020 Gran Premio General San Martin (G1). Fantasioso garnered three U.S. stakes placings in last year’s Belmont Gold Cup (G2), John’s Call S., and most recently the two-mile H. Allen Jerkens at Gulfstream Park.
Fantasioso was bred by Luther Eduardo Carlos. By the Dansili stallion Strategic Prince, he is out of the Lucky Roberto mare Soy Maja, who is also responsible for Group 1-placed La Terruca. This is the further family of Group 1 hero Don Fitz.
Another Mystery improved his line to 24-7-2-3, $358,000. The Illinois-bred bay placed in five stakes, notably the 2020 John Henry Turf Championship (G2) (during his stint with Michael McCarthy) and last summer’s Arlington (G3), before breaking through in the Black Tie Affair S. for state-breds. He pulled a 10.80-1 upset of the Nov. 27 Bob Wright Memorial at Fair Grounds, but didn’t enjoy a rain-affected New Orleans turf when eighth in the Dec. 26 Buddy Diliberto Memorial.
Another Mystery is bred along similar lines to Team Block’s Grade 2-winning millionaire Mystery Giver, whose parents (Dynaformer and Ioya) are Another Mystery’s grandparents. Another Mystery is by the Dynaformer stallion Temple City and out of Ioya Two, Mystery Giver’s half-sister by Lord at War. Ioya Two has produced a total of five stakes winners – multiple Grade 3 victor Ioya Bigtime (by Dynaformer and therefore a three-quarter brother to Another Mystery), another Grade 3 scorer in Amazing Results, the filly I O Ireland, and Mavericking.
Texas Turf Mile
Earlier in the $200,000 Texas Turf Mile, now run in honor of the late track president Bob Bork, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Red Run became the latest stakes winner for record-setting first-crop sire Gun Runner.
Well handled by Joel Rosario, the Steve Asmussen sophomore dropped back early from his far outside post 10, bided his time, and swung out wide to unleash his kick. In midstretch, Bloodline was also on the move, but Red Run outkicked him in the final yards by a half-length. The 5.40-1 chance clocked 1:37.75 and returned $12.80.
Stolen Base, the 17-10 favorite, rallied from last to take third. Fourth-placer Dowagiac Chief held best of those in proximity to the early pace of :22.99, :47.18, and 1:12.37.
Red Run, who has the distinction of being Gun Runner’s first-ever winner back on May 9, sports a record of 6-2-1-0, $226,238. Although the chestnut didn’t build on that effort when fifth in the Bashford Manor (G3) and last in the Saratoga Special (G2), he showed more stretching out. Red Run was a closing fourth to Tiz the Bomb in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile in his first turf try, then second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance back on the Churchill Downs dirt on the Nov. 27 Stars of Tomorrow II card.
The Kentucky-bred is out of the Tapit mare Red House, an unraced full sister to champion Untapable. Their half-brother, versatile millionaire Paddy O’Prado, scored a Grade 1 win on turf and placed third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1).