On a busy Sunday afternoon at Sam Houston Race Park, Pauline’s Pearl gave notice she’ll be a force to reckon with in the 2022 filly and mare division, posting a confident victory in the Houston Ladies Classic S. (G3).
As a three-year-old in 2021, Pauline’s Pearl flew under the radar and quietly compiled an admirable resume. Victories in the Fantasy S. (G3) and Zia Park Oaks were the highlights of a busy season that saw Pauline’s Pearl crack the trifecta in six of her seven stakes attempts. Her lone miss came when eighth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Pauline’s Pearl picked up right where she left off in the Houston Ladies Classic. Favored at 3-5 to defeat half a dozen rivals, Pauline’s Pearl left no doubt about her superiority. After rating patiently behind splits of :23.60, :47.27, and 1:11.49 set by longshot leader The Mary Rose, Pauline’s Pearl launched a determined rally under Joel Rosario, running down The Mary Rose and the pace-tracking Golden Curl to prevail by 3 3/4 lengths.
Pauline’s Pearl completed the 1 1/16-mile dirt test in 1:44.43. Golden Curl held second place over the deep-closing Audrey’s Time, while Becca’s Rocket, The Mary Rose, Velvet Crush, and Champagne Affair completed the order of finish.
First held in 2013, the Houston Ladies Classic boasts an impressive roster of winners. Champions Forever Unbridled (2016) and Midnight Bisou (2019) plus expected champion-to-be Letruska (2021) have all claimed top honors. Only time will tell if Pauline’s Pearl can achieve the same level of acclaim, but the Stonestreet Stables homebred has banked nearly a million dollars in earnings and appears poised for continued graded stakes success in 2022.
Pauline’s Pearl wasn’t the only stakes star to shine on Sam Houston’s Sunday card. About an hour after the Houston Ladies Classic, speedy sprinter Greeley and Ben picked up his third career stakes win by battling to a tenacious triumph in the six-furlong Stonerside Sprint S.
With Ry Eikleberry in the saddle for trainer Karl Broberg, Greeley and Ben engaged in a four-way duel for the lead through fast splits of :21.76 and :44.42. But despite the intensity of the early tempo, Greeley and Ben dug deep down the lane to beat Mr Money Bags by three-quarters of a length in 1:09.42.
Top Gunner, Kneedeepinsnow, Bybee, Direct Dial, Red N Wild, County Final, and Give It Everything trailed the top two home.
The Stonerside Sprint marked Greeley and Ben’s 18th victory from 29 starts, the majority coming for current owner End Zone Athletics. The eight-year-old gelding has remarkably won 11 of his last 12 runs to emerge as one of the most consistent and reliable horses in training. There could well be a graded stakes with his name on it in 2022.