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September 1 Update on Texas Racing Commission Closure

Dear TTA Members:
There were a lot of stories, rumors and misinformation yesterday, concerning the situation with the funding of the Texas Racing Commission. The only facts which can be verified are:
At 12:01 last night, the TxRc had not received its funding and was effectively shut down.
An official letter was sent from the TxRc to all of the Texas tracks, rescinding permission to send or receive simulcast signals and to conduct live racing.
Retama Park has issued the following statement:
At midnight last night, the Texas Racing Commission ceased all operations due to funding issues. As a result, the agency rescinded legal authorization for Retama Park Race Track to host import, simulcast wagering, live racing and the export of live signals. In the absence of mandated operational oversight, all Retama Park racing and simulcast operations are closed until further notice. All other scheduled events, the Bracken Café and our training facility are open for business as usual. We are hopeful a solution will be found soon to appropriately fund the Racing Commission and to protect the Texas racing industry and the hard-working individuals it employs.
Sam Houston Race Park issued the following statement:
Earlier this evening, Sam Houston Race Park received notice from the Texas Racing Commission that it was ceasing operations.  The letter from the Commission went on to rescind Sam Houston Race Park’s ability to import simulcast wagering, live racing and exporting of live signals at midnight, August 31, 2015.
“After an entire summer with the cloud of a shutdown hanging over the industry’s head, I am bewildered that certain members of the Texas Senate appear to have blocked the release of essential funds to the Texas Racing Commission,” says Sam Houston Race Park President Andrea B. Young.  “We thank our friends in the Legislature and other branches of government who have fought to protect the Texas racing industry and the hard-working individuals it employs.  The legislature did not intend this result, which will now shutter Texas racing facilities, putting thousands of jobs at risk.  We believe that this result is irresponsible.  We urge the Lieutenant Governor to stand up for 36,000 jobs now before this goes any further.  In the meantime, we will continue to examine our legal options.   We plan to continue our fight for all the hardworking Texans that make up the Texas Horse industry.”
We have not yet heard from Lone Star Park.
The Lt. Governor and Senator Jane Nelson issued press releases stating that the Senate side of the LBB was unanimous in denying the funding, but that the TxRc could ‘move money around’ from their larger appropriation to pay administrative costs.
Rep. John Otto stated in a letter that the House side of the LLB was still in favor of funding the TxRc for the full two years.
Those are the verifiable facts.
The Texas horse industry organizations are committed to do what we can to resolve this issue. When we have a clear idea of what action is necessary, we will advise our members immediately.
We are hopeful that this issue is resolved quickly and that we will prevail in our efforts to assure the funding of the TxRc for the next two years.
Again, many thanks to all of you for your outstanding efforts in the past days and weeks as we work to save our industry.

Lawmakers Discuss Temporary Racing Commission Funding Fix


Lawmakers discuss temporary racing commission funding fix

AUSTIN — Unable to agree on whether to defund the Texas Racing Commission for its approval of a controversial new form of betting, state lawmakers are discussing a compromise that would allow the agency’s leaders to stay on the job temporarily.

Chuck Trout, the commission’s executive director, formally requested three months of money Monday, the day before a deadline for the Legislative Budget Board to approve funding before the start of the next fiscal year.

As he has said in the past, Trout wrote in a letter to lawmakers that if the board does not release the funding for the commission’s central administration by the deadline, the agency could not pay its employees and would be forced to close. Because state law requires commission staff to oversee races, that would force the entire multi-million dollar horse racing industry to close, Trout has said.

On Monday, he added the new details that such a closure would prevent staffers from getting final paychecks and the commission from complying with the public-records law.

Temporary funding would at the very least “allow the agency to wind down operations in an orderly fashion that would be greatly beneficial to our employees, licensees, the entire pari-mutel racing industry and the State of Texas as a whole,” Trout said.

Legislative Budget Board leadership was discussing the compromise Monday afternoon, according to three people briefed on the negotiations who were not authorized to speak publicly.

The board is run by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state House Speaker Joe Straus, but the two leaders are deadlocked, with Patrick determined to defund the commission and Straus — whose family is involved in horse racing — set on saving it.

The dispute centers around the approval of “historical racing,” which allows players to bet on previously-run races that have been stripped of identifying markings. The game could bring in significant revenue for the state’s struggling horse tracks, but it has drawn criticism because its terminals resemble slot machines.

Patrick and Senate budget writer Jane Nelson, among others, believe the commission did not have the authority to approve the game because it would expand gambling. In response to the approval, they put part of the agency’s budget under control of the budget board.

The amount of money in dispute is only about $1.6 million, but it is that money that pays the central staffers of the commission and rent for its buildings.

Still, the commission voted last week not to repeal its authorization of “historical racing,” surprising lawmakers.


News and Notes for August 28, 2015

Despite the threat of losing funding from the state, the Texas Racing Commission kept in place regulations it adopted earlier for establishing historical race wagering.

About 200 horsemen from around the state converged on the TRC meeting in Austin August 25 and urged the commission to leave its rules intact despite an ongoing court case and veiled threats from some legislators to withhold funding from the commission. Industry executives and members argued against repealing the rules—which the TRC had publicly said it intended to do—because it would nullify the appeal of a court ruling that stated the commission had no legal standing to promulgate the rules.

The commission voted 4-3-1 on a motion to repeal the regulations, which failed because there was not a clear majority supporting the initiative. At issue now is whether the TRC will continue to receive adequate funding from the state past the end of its fiscal year August 31. When the new state budget was adopted in June, a provision was attached to the TRC budget that requires the commission to specifically request $750,000 from the Texas Legislative Budget Board. This money funds TRC executive director Chuck Trout’s position and other staff salaries and covers the commission’s rent and utilities. The commission is prohibited from moving money from other accounts to cover this shortfall, so without the budget board allocation the commission would shut down and so would all live racing across Texas. Read more »


TTA Announces 2-Year-Old Sale and Changes to Sales Futurity

ttalogoThe Texas Thoroughbred Association has announced the establishment of a 2-year-olds in training sale to be held next April at Lone Star Park. The auction will be similar to the one held by Fasig-Tipton Texas in previous years.

“We are excited to be continuing the tradition of Thoroughbred sales in Texas,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the TTA. “We were unsuccessful in bringing back the summer yearling sale after Fasig-Tipton decided to leave the state, but the 2-year-old sale has always been the strongest in the region and we expect that to continue.”

The sale will be operated by the TTA and managed by Tim Boyce, who formerly ran the sale for Fasig-Tipton Texas.

“The sale facility and racetrack at Lone Star are among the best you will find anywhere for a 2-year-old sale, so we expect a strong response to the continuation of this auction,” Boyce said. “We also think the changes to the TTA Sales Futurity will benefit both buyers and consignors.”

The TTA announced changes to the former TTA Sales Futurity, which in past years had been restricted to graduates of the Texas yearling and 2-year-olds in training sales or accredited Texas-breds made eligible through a berth entry.

Starting in 2016, the race with divisions for fillies and colts/geldings to be held during the summer at Lone Star Park will be open to all accredited Texas-breds with a free nomination for horses that went through any yearling sale or a $250 nomination for a horse that did not go through a yearling sale. In addition, every horse consigned to the 2016 Texas 2-year-olds in training sale, regardless of where they were bred, will receive a free nomination. Purse information, a complete payment schedule and information about late nominations will be released shortly. The race will also have a name change to be announced.


Update on the Texas Racing Commission Budget Situation

ttalogoThis week’s Texas Racing Commission meeting has garnered a lot of attention, with a lot of misinformation floating about.

About 200 horsemen from around the state converged on the TRC meeting in Austin Aug. 25 and urged the commission to leave its rules for historical racing intact, despite an ongoing court case and veiled threats from some legislators to withhold funding from the commission. Representatives from the Texas horse industry and individual TTA members argued against repealing the rules—which the TRC had publicly said it intended to do—because it would nullify the appeal of a court ruling that stated the commission had no legal standing to promulgate the rules.

The commission voted 4-3-1 on a motion to repeal the regulations, which failed because there was not a clear majority supporting the initiative. At issue now is whether the TRC will continue to receive adequate funding from the state past the end of its fiscal year Aug. 31. When the new state budget was adopted in June, a provision was attached to the TRC budget that requires the commission to specifically request $750,000 from the Texas Legislative Budget Board. This money funds TRC executive director Chuck Trout’s position and other staff salaries and covers the commission’s rent and utilities. The commission is prohibited from moving money from other accounts to cover this shortfall, so without the budget board allocation the commission would shut down and so would all live racing and simulcasting across Texas on September 1. It should also be noted that the TRC is not funded by taxpayer money but rather from fees collected by industry participants (tracks and horsemen) and that the LBB simply serves as a “pass through.” So the TRC is only asking for approval to utilize funds generated by the horse industry to regulate the horse industry.

Some Texas horsemen said risking a shut-down of racing was necessary in order to keep the hope of historical racing alive.

Shortly after the meeting, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick expressed his extreme displeasure, claiming that inappropriate and offensive comments concerning Senator Jane Nelson were made and demanding an apology.  The entire text of his response may be viewed here.

For the purposes of transparency, we would like to publish TRC Chairman Robert Schmidt’s testimony before the Senate Finance Committee last February, which can be viewed here, as well as a link to the video archive of that meeting. You will need to fast forward to 2:26:28 to get to the proper section.

Also, take a moment to view Chairman Schmidt’s letter to Senator Nelson in May regarding the repeal of rules authorizing and regulating pari-mutuel wagering on historical races.

Do you find anything disrespectful here?

We assert that Chairman Schmidt displays nothing but class in his words and conduct, and we applaud him for his actions.

We encourage you to contact members of the Legislative Budget Board (listed below) to ask for their support in funding the Texas Racing Commission:

Governor Gregg Abbott
office: (512) 463-2000
Fax: (512) 463-1849

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick
(512) 463-0001

Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Straus
(512) 463-1000

Senator Kevin Eltife
(512) 463-0101

Representative Drew Darby
(512) 463-0331

Senator Craig Estes
(512) 463-0130

Senator John Otto

Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa
(512) 463-0120

Rep. Sylvester Turner
(512) 463-0554

Senator Jane Nelson
(512) 463-0112

Rep. John Zerwas
(512) 463-0657


Racing Commission Votes to Keep Historical Racing

Austin American-Statesman:

Racing commission votes to keep historical racing, risks own funding

The commissioners showed that they wanted to give some hope to the struggling racing business in Texas by not repealing a controversial rule they made last year to allow Texas tracks to take part in historical racing, an electronic form of gambling in which bettors wager on already-run races that have been stripped of all identifiers.

The move is likely to anger Sen. Jane Nelson, a Flower Mound Republican and chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, and other Republican legislators who have equated historical racing terminals to slot machines.

The immediate results could be severe. The commission might lose its funding next week and racing in Texas consequently could be halted.

Andrea Young, president of the Sam Houston Race Park in Houston, said a vote the other way would have been “anti-Texan” and “anti-horse racing,” but now, at least, the industry can go forward with court hearings on the legality of historical racing.

The new form of betting offers the floundering horse and dog racing industries in Texas hope for survival, Young and other said at the hearing. It would inject needed capital into the system and allow purses for winning animals to grow and be more competitive with those in surrounded states that can supplement winnings with proceeds from other types of gambling, she said.

“We are proud of the commission’s willingness to stand by the Texas horse and racing industries,” Young said. “We look forward to having our day in court on historical racing, and are confident that the Court of Appeals will uphold the validity of these essential rules. We continue to have hope that the historic Texas horse and racing industry can thrive in Texas, continuing to employ thousands of hard-working people and contributing millions in revenue to the Texas economy.”


News and Notes for August 21, 2015

The Texas Racing Commission will meet at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 25 in the John H. Reagan Building located at 105 W. 15th Street in Austin.

On the Agenda is consideration of the repeal of all rules pursuant to Historical Racing.

At the heart of the matter is the threat of commission funding being withheld if the rules are not repealed.  Because the Legislative Budget Board has yet to approve funding for the commission to operate in the new fiscal year beginning September 1, TRC executive director Chuck Trout has warned that the agency may have to shutter the state’s tracks at the end of August.

Horsemen are urged to attend the meeting to voice your opinion on the issue. The Texas Horsemen’s Partnership and Retama Park are providing bus transportation to the meeting. If you would like to participate, contact CyDeana Lee at 210.237.8715 or Sabina Pish at 210.867.2475 to commit to ride the bus from Retama. There must be at least 20 committed before the bus will be chartered.

This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of racing at Retama Park.  To celebrate the occasion, the track will offer nine exciting Thoroughbred races, along with live music tonight by Hunter A. Smith.  Saturday is “Island Night at the Park” with delicious tropical food and drinks, including a pig roast in the courtyard, along with a chance to win an island vacation package. Post time for Friday and Saturday is 6:45 p.m.

In conjunction with the Gillespie County Fair in Fredericksburg, the track will conduct the final two days of the 2015 Mixed Meet with a 1 p.m. post time each day.

On Saturday, the G.C.F.A. Texas-bred Stakes has a field of 6 going 7 furlongs, led by Southwestern Racing LLC’s 2/1 morning line favorite Special U F O (Special Rate – Mysterious Light).  Completing the field are: Wild Slew (Doneraile Court – Sunnie Wild), 8/1; Berry Loud (Gold Alert – Be Berry Quiet), 6/1; Halifax Flyer (Early Flyer – Halifax Rose), 5/1, Ring Necked (Too Much Bling – Wood Duck), 5/2; and Our Romeo (Captain Countdown – Crimson Flagship), 4/1.

Good luck to all!

Accredited Texas-bred D. Shifflett (Valid Expectations – Smokin N Jokin) is part of a field of 13 going 7 furlongs in the $100,000 Arlington – Washington Futurity (gr. 3) at Arlington Park on Saturday. Bred by Fletcher Properties, Inc. and owned in partnership by Haynes Stables LLC, the 2-year-old gelding is trained by Michael Stidham and has been given odds of 8/1.

Fly the Red Eye (Early Flyer – Rare and Sixy) will run in the $75,000 Edward J. Debartolo Memorial Handicap at Remington Park.  Bret Calhoun will saddle the 7-year-old gelding for owners Carl Moore and Brad Grady.  Bred by Brent Davidson, Fly the Red Eye has been given odds of 3/1 in the field of 6 going a mile and 1/16th on the turf.  He boasts a career record of 60-14-16-12 with earnings of $292,425.

I saw a great post on Facebook this week that says it all.  Here is a portion of it:

“Texas Racing is more.

It is more than the trainer who is working countless hours a day to make sure the horses in their barn are conditioned and cared for to reach peak performance.

It is more than the jockeys who ride every mount from a $5,000 claimer to a Grade 1 Stakes horse with the burning desire to cross the finish line first.

It is more than the owners who pick a prospect, pay the training, vet, farrier, and nomination fees in hopes to stand in a winner’s circle.

It is more than the breeders who plan for a foal from before conception and lose countless hours of sleep waiting for that next winner to arrive. Then watch it grow and develop, all the while praying for its health and skill to be exceptional.

It is more than the vets, farriers, grooms, security, feed stores.

It is more.”

To see the entire post, go to :

The Texas Thoroughbred Association board of directors is finalizing plans to conduct a 2-year-old in training sale next April at Lone Star Park, along with an associated futurity.  A formal announcement is expected soon.

Having surpassed the $1.1 billion wagering mark and coming off the best month since it was introduced in September 2011, historical racing in Kentucky is poised to soar as it enters the Lexington market with more than 900 terminals at The Red Mile within the next two months.

Through July, $1.028 billion has been wagered on historical racing at Kentucky Downs and the $34 million in July was a record. From that, more than $9 million has gone to purses at Kentucky tracks and more than $11 million to various equine incentive and development funds, drug research, and equine industry programs. The state’s General Fund has received $3.6 million from historical racing and a higher education fund has received more than $1 million.

Since Ellis Park began offering the new form of gaming in August 2012, more than $108 million has gone through the machines, generating even more money for purses, breeding funds, and the state.

NOTES: ATB incentive award checks for the recently concluded Thoroughbred meet at Lone Star Park mailed on Wednesday…The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Foundation has approved 2015 funding of $300,320 for 25 equine organizations and special projects committed to improving the welfare of the horse. Among the initiatives receiving support are student veterinary scholarships and educational programs, important equine laminitis research, Equitarian workshops, unwanted horse programs, and professional and youth development… The Jockey Club has announced the election of four new members: W. B. Rogers Beasley, John Magnier, Rosendo (Ro) Parra of Texas, and Thomas S. Robbins…Kudos to Texas Chrome, winner of the $100,000 Gold Rush Futurity at Arapahoe Park… Congrats to Henry Witt’s Texas-bred Witt Six, who finished second in the Grade 3, $200,000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park in Edmonton. The son of Texas stallion Drums of Thunder had previously won three stakes at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg after scoring two wins in Texas…Ivan Fallunovalot, a Texas-bred by all-time leading Texas stallion Valid Expectations, could be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland. The gelding has won 10 of 18 career starts and has banked $222,200 in five starts this year…The next meeting of the TTA Board of Directors will be August 29 at Retama Park…Our condolences to the family of jockey Weldon Cloninger Jr., who passed away last Sunday.


TTA Issues Statement on Historical Racing

Texas Thoroughbred AssociationThe Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA), which represents more than 1,100 racehorse owners and breeders in the state, strongly opposes the measure published in the Texas Register seeking to repeal previously adopted rules authorizing and regulating historical racing at Texas racetracks. The TTA strongly supports the concept of historical racing, which already has proven to bolster the racing and breeding industry in several states.

“The prospect of historical racing in Texas is the only thing providing hope to our struggling industry,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the TTA. “We firmly believe that historical racing provides a means of pari-mutuel wagering and falls within the Commission’s scope of authority under current law.”

In spite of reports to the contrary, unlike slot machines in which a patron is betting against the “house,” wagering on historical races is conducted through a self-service terminal connected to the racetrack’s totalisator system utilizing pari-mutuel wagering, which is legal in Texas.

“The Texas racing industry is in severe decline and on the verge of disappearing altogether,” Ruyle added. “As the Commission is well aware, Texas horses, horsemen, and associated service industries are being forced to leave Texas and take their business to other states that supplement purses with proceeds from gambling activities that are illegal in Texas.”

Last month, CBS News in Minnesota reported that Texans Charlie Smith and Terry Propps, who, after 20 years in the industry, are now breeding and racing Thoroughbreds there because of the more lucrative opportunities available to them. It is a story that has been repeated many times in the past with other horsemen who were formerly based in Texas.

The only development since the historical racing rules were adopted that casts any doubt on the Commission’s authority is a district court decision that is being appealed. If historical racing rules are repealed, that appeal becomes moot. The TTA believes the Commission should await the outcome of that legal process before making any changes that would mean the industry’s hard work over the past year has been all for naught.

The TTA has also stated their position in a letter sent to the Commission.


News and Notes for August 14, 2015

Henry Witt’s homebred multiple stakes winner Witt Six (Drums of Thunder – Taitt Hill) is entered in the $200,000 Canadian Derby (gr. 3) for 3-year-olds going 1 3/8 miles at Northland Park in Edmonton, Alberta on Saturday.  The race has a full field of 12, and Witt Six has been given morning line odds of 6/1.

Paul Rigali Jr.’s homebred graded stakes winner Texas Air (Texas City – Malaysian Air) is the oldest in the field of 11 for the $175,000 Governor’s Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds and up going 1 mile and an eighth at Remington Park on Saturday.  Trained by Allen Milligan, the 7-year-old gelding currently boasts a career record of 41-8-12-4 with $359,274 in earnings. He has morning line odds of 8/1.

Also at Remington, graded stakes placed Ivan Fallunovalot (Valid Expectations – Flashdance Missy) is the 8/5 favorite in the $75,000 David M. Vance Sprint Stakes for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs.  The 5-year-old gelding, bred by Eileen Hartis, now runs for owner Lewis E. Mathews Jr. and is looking to increase his career earnings of $341,910.

Best of racing luck to all!

Next week, the TTA office will be mailing out ATB incentive award checks for the recently concluded Thoroughbred meet at Lone Star Park.

Award totals were calculated as follows:

Breeder Awards:      7.98936% of 1st/2nd/3rd purse money earned

Owner Awards:        8.12110% of 1st/2nd/3rd purse money earned

Stallion Awards:       4.40673% of 1st/2nd/3rd purse money earned

The total amount of awards paid out for Owner, Breeder and Stallion Owner Awards for this period of racing at Lone Star Park is $531,968.35.  By law, 40% ($212,787.34) is paid for Breeders Awards, 40% ($212,787.34) is paid for Owners Awards and 20% ($106,393.67) for Stallion Owner Awards.

Please note that for awards calculation purposes, all individual purses are capped at $75,000.00.  There are no ATB Owners Incentive Awards paid on restricted stakes, as the purse already contains added money from the ATB Program.

Also, if an Accredited Texas-bred horse placed first, second or third in an open company race during this meet, the owner will receive an Owner’s Bonus award totaling 13.24727% of purse money earned. The first 25% of total ATB Awards is allocated to the Owner Bonus Fund, which equates to $193,989.46 for this meet

Be checking your mailbox!

Following is a condensed version of the lengthy Fort Worth Star-Telegram article detailing the ongoing woes of the Texas horseracing and breeding industry:

It’ll be down to the wire, but the Texas Racing Commission hopes to satisfy the concerns of state officials who could cut off funding to keep the agency — and racetracks statewide — open. Read more »


Anthrax Confirmed in Equine in Uvalde County

August 11, 2015
Anthrax Confirmed in Equine in Uvalde County
AUSTIN – The first Anthrax case in Texas for 2015 has been confirmed in equine in Uvalde County.
The premises is located approximately 25 miles northwest of Uvalde. The Texas Animal Health
Commission (TAHC) has quarantined the premises. TAHC rules require proper disposal of affected
carcasses and vaccination of livestock on the premises prior to release of the quarantine.

Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, which is a naturally occurring organism with
worldwide distribution, including certain parts of Texas. (It is not uncommon for anthrax to be
diagnosed in the southwestern part of the state.) A vaccine is available for use in susceptible livestock in
high risk areas.

Acute fever followed by rapid death with bleeding from body openings are common signs of anthrax in
livestock. Carcasses may also appear bloated and decompose quickly. Livestock displaying symptoms
consistent with anthrax should be reported to a private veterinary practitioner or a TAHC official. If
affected livestock or carcasses must be handled, producers are encouraged to follow basic sanitation
precautions such as wearing protective gloves, long sleeve shirts and washing thoroughly afterward to
prevent accidental spread of the bacteria to people.

“The TAHC will continue to closely monitor the situation for possible new cases across the state.
Producers are encouraged to consult their veterinary practitioner or local TAHC office if they have
questions about the disease in livestock and their medical professional if they have concerns about
anthrax exposure,” said Dr. T.R. Lansford, TAHC Assistant Executive Director for Animal Health

For more information regarding Anthrax, contact your local TAHC region or call 1-800-550-8242 or
visit .

To learn more about Anthrax, visit the TAHC’s brochure at