The TTA office will be closed on Friday, Sept.4 and Monday, Sept. 6.
Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!
The Texas Thoroughbred Association would like to thank Chairman John Otto and the other House members who serve on the Legislative Budget Board for working to secure full funding for the Texas Racing Commission.
While we are thankful that the Commission and Texas racetracks are again open for business, the announcement of a three month funding plan still merits our concern.
The horse racing and breeding industry needs to be able to see far enough into the future to make plans based on realistic expectations.
A short-term funding agreement does not provide much of a comfort level for horsemen. Does it inspire enough confidence in the future of the industry to remain in Texas?
Uncertainty has a wide touch. Breeders are now faced with making decisions on where their mares will foal next spring, considering how the Texas-bred program compares with other options.
They also must make plans for which stallions they wish to breed their mares, or even whether to breed them at all.
Owners and trainers must make plans for where their horses will go to race. Will there be enough racing in Texas to meet their needs, or will they be forced to go out of state?
Racetrack workers must be wondering if they need to be making contingency plans.
Suppliers and equipment dealers must consider inventory issues.
Landowners may consider selling, especially if that land produced their livelihood.
The list goes on.
In the meantime, your industry organizations are continuing to meet and discuss a course of action for this uncertain period. We will keep you informed, and let you know how you can help.
For now, please express your thanks to those who have recently stepped up to support the horse industry in Texas:
Representative John Otto
Representative Drew Darby
Representative Sylvester Turner
Representative John Zerwas
Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller
Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar
COMMISSIONER MILLER CONCERNED FUNDING DISPUTE AT RACING COMMISSION PUTS TEXAS EQUINE INDUSTRY AT RISK
Amarillo, Texas—Attending the American Quarter Horse Association World Show, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller today urged members of the state’s Legislative Budget Board (LBB) to restore funding to the Texas Racing Commission (TRC). Withholding funding from TRC puts Texas’ $3 billion equine industry at further risk and would irreparably damage Texas’ already-fragile horse industry with the closure of Texas’ existing race tracks.
“There is no horse racing in Texas without the Texas Racing Commission,” Commissioner Miller said. “Upwards of 100,000 Texans who work directly or indirectly in the racing industry would lose their jobs, and I’m just not okay with that. These folks will be forced to move to other states and will further strain the equine industry in our state.”
Commissioner Miller said that the dialogue between some members of the LBB and TRC is a result of commission member’s decision to allow so-called historical racing at Texas race tracks.
“A Texas court has already ruled that the members of the Texas Racing Commission did not have the authority to approve historical racing in Texas without legislative approval. That case is now under appeal and should be decided by the courts in the next several months. In the meantime, they are putting tens of thousands of Texas jobs at further risk.”
Commissioner Miller urged the LBB to immediately fund the racing commission so that no tracks are forced to close.
“Texas is the nation’s leader in horse production and as Agriculture Commissioner, I have the responsibility to keep it that way. There is simply too much at stake for this to go unresolved.”
For the immediate future, please contact the members of the Legislative Budget Board to continue to ask that the TxRc be fully funded. We all need to thank the House members for their support and continue to place pressure on the Senate members to fully fund the TxRc.
Let the legislators know how you and your horse business are personally impacted by the shutdown of racing. Be sure to keep us informed of any particularly positive or negative response you get.
Also, there is some question as to whether Senator Joan Huffman has replaced Senator Craig Estes on the LBB, so call them both!
Gov. Greg Abbott 512-463-2000
Rep. Joe Straus 512-463-1000
Lt. Gov Dan Patrick 512-463-0001
Sen. Jane Nelson 512-463-0112
Sen. Kevin Eltife 512-463-0101
Sen. Craig Estes 512-463-0130
Sen. Juan Hinojosa 512-463-0120
Sen. Joan Huffman 512-463-0117
Rep. Drew Darby 512-463-0331
Rep. John Otto 512-463-0570
Rep. Sylvester Turner 512-463-0554
Also, call your own Senator and Representative to contact the LBB to express their support for full funding of the TRC on behalf of the horsemen in their district. To find who represents you, go to:
Statement from Lone Star Park:
As a result of the Texas Racing Commission not receiving the required authorization from the Legislative Budget Board to expend administrative funds past August 31, 2015, the Commission must cease all operations, including the oversight of both live racing and simulcast wagering. Lone Star Park’s racing and simulcast operations will be closed until further notice. All previously scheduled banquet events will continue as planned. In addition, the Bar & Book and the Lone Star Park training facility will remain open. We hope this matter will be resolved quickly so we can resume hiring the 600-plus additional personnel needed for our fall season which is scheduled to begin on September 18.
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.
HISTORICAL RACE WAGERING RULES STILL IN PLACE , FUNDING QUESTIONABLE
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
The 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.