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News and Notes for December 19, 2014


Some of the industry’s top trainers will ship horses to Sam Houston Race Park for its 2015 live Thoroughbred meet, which gets underway on Friday, January 16. The impressive roster of includes a number of new faces and includes Kenny McPeek, Ron Moquett, Ben Colebrook and Jeff Thornbury.

They join a noteworthy core returning group of horsemen lead by two-time Eclipse winning trainer Steve Asmussen, Bret Calhoun, and Danny Pish. Asmussen has six leading training titles at Sam Houston Race Park.  Pish has been on top of the standings in Houston four times and recently clinched his 15th training title at Retama Park. Read more »


Results of TTA Board of Directors Election to Serve 2015 – 2017

Results of TTA Board of Directors Election to Serve 2015 – 2017

Ballots in the TTA Board of Directors Election were tabulated in the TTA offices earlier today. Assisting with the tabulation were TTA Directors Bill Tracy and Henry Witt Jr., along with Fallon Ferguson, Cheri Grant and Executive Director Mary Ruyle.

A total of 44 ballots were tabulated for the Central Region, 39 for the East Region and 233 ballots for the At-large election of 5 directors.

Tom Bradfield DVM of Austin was re-elected to represent the Central Region and Hal Wiggins of Houston was re-elected to represent the East Region.

With five at-large board positions available, incumbent Ed Few was re-elected, while Danny Keene of Greenville, Wes Melcher of Sulphur Springs, Brent Savage of Cypress and Fred Taylor Jr of Ft. Worth were elected to fill the remaining four positions.

We would like to thank all candidates for their interest in serving on the board, and look forward to their continued participation in association activities.


Hillary Farish Stratton, Daughter of W. S. Farish, Passes Away

Hillary Farish Stratton

1968 – 2014 

Hillary Farish Stratton Obituary
Our beloved, Hillary, died peacefully at home surrounded by her children, siblings and parents on Friday, the 12th of December 2014. Her strong faith and ours assure that she joined her Creator in serenity and love. Hillary was born in Houston to adoring parents, Sarah and Will Farish the 20th of November 1968. In addition to her parents, she is survived by her four precious sons, Ford, Bayard, Wilson and Jack as well as her siblings, Mary Johnston, Laura Chadwick and Bill Farish; her two brothers in law; one sister in law; and sixteen nieces and nephews, all of whom adored her. Hillary graduated from The Purnell School and Pine Manor College. After college, she spent a joyful year traveling with the singing group, Up with People, an experience she would recount again and again with her trademark giggles and sharp wit. Hillary served on the board of The Children’s Museum of Houston, and remained active as a volunteer, donor and advocate for this institution throughout her life.

Hills, as she was known to her family and innumerable friends, had a profound love for life and her enduring smile radiated joy and happiness to all whom she met. Not surprisingly, Hillary was known as Fairy Godmother to her many Godchildren. Most of all, Hillary loved her four sons. Their well being was her utmost priority. She was happiest when in their midst, listening, laughing, teaching and encouraging. Hillary’s supreme gift as a photographer is evident in the hundreds of beautiful photographs she took of her favorite subject, her boys. Throughout her life, Hillary especially loved her time in Boca Grande, Florida, where the entire group gathered several times a year to relax, enjoy each other’s company and revel in the beauty around them.

Family and friends will gather for a celebration of Hillary’s life Wednesday the 17th of December from five o’clock in the afternoon until half past seven o’clock in the evening at the Houston Country Club.

A memorial service will be held at the Church of St. John the Divine, 2450 River Oaks Boulevard in Houston at eleven o’clock in the morning on Thursday, the 18th of December with The Reverend Dr. Douglas W. Richnow, Sr. Associate Rector, officiating.

The family is eternally grateful to Maddie Bunch, R. N. and Emily Barker, M.D. for their amazing and loving support during these past few months and to the wonderful nurses who continually cared for Hillary.

In lieu of the customary remembrances, Hillary requested that all contributions be made to the Children’s Museum of Houston, 1500 Binz Street, Houston, Texas 77004.

Published in Houston Chronicle from Dec. 14 to Dec. 15, 2014.

On behalf of the directors and staff of the Texas Thoroughbred Association, we offer our condolences to the Farish family.

News and Notes for December 12, 2014


Longtime Texas A&M University professor G. Kent Carter, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM was installed as president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) during the Dec. 9 President’s Luncheon at the association’s 60th Annual Convention, taking place Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A native of Levan, Utah, Carter entered private practice in Reno, Nevada, after graduating from Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1979. He completed a residency in large animal medicine at Texas A&M University in 1982. While working on faculty at Purdue University for two years, he became board certified in internal medicine. In 1984, Carter joined the faculty of Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, where he later served as section chief of internal medicine.

For the past 20 years, Carter has collaborated with farriers to resolve equine hoof disorders and lameness. He founded an instructional rotation for students at Texas A&M dedicated to foot care and its ties to lameness. He is a member of the International Equine Veterinarians Hall of Fame and the International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame.

An AAEP member since 1980, Carter has served on the Abstract Review, Farrier Liaison, Infectious Disease, Leadership Development, Nominating, and Student Relations committees as well as a term on the board of directors from 2006-07.  He also served on various Texas Thoroughbred Association committees in past years.

Saddle Brook Jockey Club in Amarillo, which has conducted simulcasting since December 2012, will close down tonight.

Co-owners Lynn and Drew Alexander had planned to build a racetrack in the county and had been authorized to simulcast from the 6,300-square-foot center for up to two years before the track opened.

The brothers hold a Class 2 racing license for the area but have not yet built a track. “We’re taking a wait-and-see attitude to see if anything develops that makes it more economically feasible to build a racetrack,” said Lynn Alexander.

They have been monitoring the prospects in Texas for implementation of pari-mutuel wagering on historical races.

Alexander said Saddle Brook Jockey Club had about $5 million in simulcast handle over the past two years and raised about $500,000 in purses for other tracks in the state.

Alexander also said that while simulcast center property in the city of Amarillo would be put up for sale, they plan to maintain the racing license.

The Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund (TTEF) helps place young Texans on the road to success by providing grants and awards to benefit Texas Thoroughbred Association members and their children and further their educational opportunities. More than $261,000 has already been awarded through the TTEF.

Application forms are available now, with a deadline date of February 15, 2015. Contact Mary Ruyle at 512.458.6133 for details.

You can also make a tax-deductible contribution to the Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund using the following form:

Now that the Thoroughbred season has concluded at Retama Park, the track has announced winners in four Honor List categories.  Meme Jo (Too Much Bling – Honey Gold) took Horse of the Meet, with three wins – two on turf and one on dirt.  He also had two seconds and a fourth from six season starts.

Claimer of the Meet was awarded to Valid Cien (Valid Performance – Miss Dynaflo), who won three $5,000 claiming races and one SOC $5/10K race.

Arkansas-bred Miss Karber (Eddington – Onima) took the title of Best Filly/Mare, winning three of five starts on the turf – two at $15,000 claiming and one at AOC $18,000.  She also finished third in one of her other two starts.

The undefeated Promise Me Silver (Silver City – Uno Mas Promesa) was named Top Two-Year-Old.  The winner of the Darby’s Daughter division of the Texas Stallion Stakes has a career record 0f 3-3-0-0 and earnings of $123,355.

The $250,000 Springboard Mile headlines closing day at Remington Park on Sunday, with two Accredited Texas-breds in the field.  Trainer Danele Durham will send out Hall’s Family Trust homebred Runaway Bling (Too Much Bling – Runaway Cater), seeking to improve his career record of 5-1-1-0 with $22,957 in earnings.  Bret Calhoun trainee Supermason (Grasshopper – Folksy), runs for owner Brad Grady.  Bred in partnership by W. S. Farish, the gelding has a record of 6-2-1-1 and earnings of $38,755.

Bred by Charles and David Yochum, Zooming (After Market – Dance Studio) will start in the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes.  The 2-year-old Accredited Texas-bred filly is owned by Carl Moore Management and trained by Bret Calhoun.

Calhoun will also saddle Oklahoma-bred Ibaka (Uncle Abbie – Synersis) for the $50,000 Jim Thorpe Stakes.  Owned by Doug Wall, the 3-year-old gelding showed up in the Winners Circle for the Stymie division of the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star Park in June, as well as the Texas Heritage Stakes at Houston in March and the Jim’s Orbit division of the Texas Stallion Stakes in February.  Ibaka boasts a career record of 10-6-0-2 with $204,800 in earnings.

NOTES: Beginning Sunday, in an effort to provide more options to local horsemen, Fair Grounds will begin carding and running one-mile races on the main track.  Owing to the layout of the Fair Grounds dirt course, one-mile races will begin and end at the sixteenth pole in order to avoid a short run into the first turn…Oaklawn Jockey Club is waiving its $2.00 general admission fee for the Thoroughbred racing season beginning next month…The Texas Thoroughbred HBPA would like to announce that the nominating period for the upcoming 2015 board of directors election has been extended through December 20, 2014. If you know of a qualified, eligible member who would like to be considered for nomination, please contact Kathy Stevens-Arnold at (210)219-2242 or (830)947-3030, or email the THP office at…Ballots in the TTA Board of Directors election must be received by 5pm on Monday, December 15th.



News and Notes for December 5, 2014


Historical race wagering at two Kentucky racetracks registered healthy increases in October versus the same month in 2013, according to statistics released by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Historical race wagering, also called Instant Racing, produced $26.6 million in bets at Kentucky Downs in October, up 11.4% from $23.8 million in October 2013. At Ellis Park, October wagering totaled $3.76 million, up 84.3% from $2.04 million in 2013.

For the first 10 months of 2014, the terminals at Kentucky Downs have generated $271.6 million in wagers, up 11.6% from the same period last year. Wagering from January through October at Ellis Park has totaled $31.8 million, up 35.3% from $23.5 million in 2013.

From Sept. 1, 2011, when Kentucky Downs began operating the machines, through Oct. 31 of this year, more than $850.5 million has been wagered through Instant Racing in the state, according to the KHRC. During that time the machines have provided $7.5 million for purses, $6.37 million for Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund purse supplements, and more than $535,000 for the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund.

On December 2, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved plans by The Red Mile and Keeneland to launch Instant Racing next year in Lexington. In receiving approval for that joint venture, Keeneland withdrew a previous request that would have allowed the track to build an Instant Racing facility on its property.

Instead, The Red Mile has nearly doubled the size of plans for its previously announced facility from 40,000 square feet to 72,000 square feet, which will house 1,000 wagering terminals.

The facility is slated to open before Keeneland’s 2015 fall meet. The plan is for revenue generated by Instant Racing for purses at the facility will be split 50-50 between Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing.

Meanwhile, Keeneland also took another step forward in its plans to launch a Quarter Horse track in the Corbin area offering a short Quarter Horse meet each year, with eight to 12 weekend days beginning in the summer of 2016, and have a facility with 500 to 700 Instant Racing games. Revenue generated for purses would be split equally between Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing.

Corey Johnsen, the president of Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Kentucky, recently said that Kentucky Downs hopes to proceed with an expansion of its parlor for Instant Racing.

Kentucky Downs was the first track in the state to implement the game three years ago and said then that there were plans to expand eventually.

“We plan to double the size of our historical horse racing floor,” Johnsen told the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s advisory committee for the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

The floor currently has 390 terminals and the goal is to complete the expansion in 2015. The original project was $3 million and Johnsen said the planned expansion “would be considerably less than that” because it would involve reconfiguring existing space and enclosing a patio.

The opening of the Hildebrand Equine Complex at Texas A&M University in College Station marked completion of the first part of a planned $80-million building project.

“This new facility solidifies Texas A&M University’s position as a national leader in equine programs—in equine sciences and veterinary medicine,” said Eleanor Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine. “The considerable support from current leaders in the equine industry, all friends of Texas A&M, clearly indicate the importance of our university serving the significant equine industry, locally to globally. This premier facility will help us not only serve but also significantly impact the future of the industry. In addition, this state-of-the-art facility honors Dr. Hildebrand, one of the revered graduates of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.”

On December 3, the House of Representatives passed the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (H.R. 5771).  The bill would extend several tax provisions favorable to the horse industry, including three-year depreciation for all race horses, which expired or were reduced at the end of 2013. The bill extends these provisions retroactively for assets placed in service at any time in 2014.

For complete details, see

Please note that all ballots must be RECEIVED by 5:00 PM on Monday, December 15th. If you have not received a ballot, your TTA membership may not be current. Call the TTA office at 512.458.6133 to check. Thursday, December 11 is the last day that we will be able to mail out ballots to new or renewing members in time for them to be returned by the deadline.

NOTES: Keeneland has cataloged 1,610 horses for its 57th January Horses of All Ages Sale, which will be held Jan. 12-15, 2015… The Jockey Club reminds owners of unregistered yearlings and 2-year-olds that to avoid additional late registration fees the requirements for registration must be completed by December 31, 2014. The late registration fee increases from $550 to $800 after December 31 of the yearling year and from $800 to $2,025 after December 31 of the 2-year-old year…Congratulations to Danny Pish, who was named leading trainer for the recently concluded Retama Park Thoroughbred Meet, as well as to leading jockey David Cabrera and leading owner Terry Eoff…The next meeting of the Texas Racing Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, December 16th in Austin… Internet bidding for the TTA auction of 2015 stallion breedings is now closed.  Seasons not listed as “SOLD” on the TTA website may still be available for purchase.  Contact Mary Ruyle in the TTA office at 512.458.6133 for details… Accredited Texas-bred Fiftyshadesofgold has been booked to Tapit for 2015…Entries
close for the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale on January 5th; contact Tim Boyce at 972.262.0000 for details.


Full Obituary for Sammy Jackson


UPDATED WITH OBITUARY: Texas Racing Industry Loses Champion, Friend Sammy Jackson

(Austin, Texas – Saturday, November 29, 2014) – On Monday evening, November 17, the Texas racing industry lost a champion and friend with the passing of Samuel “Sammy” Jackson. A popular figure in the horse racing industry both within Texas and around the country, Jackson will be deeply missed by his many friends and coworkers.

Sammy had been part of the Texas racing industry since joining the Texas Racing Commission in 1994. He was the Commission’s Deputy Director for Finance and Wagering at the time of his passing.

The Texas Racing Commission issue the following statement on November 18:

“All of us at the Texas Racing Commission lost a dear friend and valued coworker Monday evening with the passing of Samuel “Sammy” Jackson. With his family at his side, Sammy passed away yesterday at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center after a prolonged illness.

“Sammy held a variety of positions with the Texas Racing Commission since joining the agency in 1994, and most recently served as the Deputy Director for Finance and Wagering. Sammy was admired for his sense of humor and his encyclopedic knowledge of pari-mutuel issues, both within our agency and throughout the racing industry.

“Sammy will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

Below is Sammy’s obituary that ran in the Lake Charles American Press:

Samuel “Sammy” Earl Jackson, 49, of Austin, Texas, passed away on Nov. 17, 2014. He was born to Sam Jackson Jr. and Jackie Granger Jackson on May 22, 1965. Sammy is survived by his mother; a sister, Kathy Jackson; a brother and sister-in-law, Eddy and Elizabeth Jackson; a nephew, Eric Jackson; and nieces, Nicole and Baylee Istre. A memorial service will be held on Nov. 29, 2014, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Vinton with rosary at 10:30 a.m. followed by Mass at 11:00 a.m.

Sammy graduated from Vinton High School in 1983, where he was a member of the Vinton High marching band and 4-H club. He then attended McNeese State University and graduated in 1987 with a degree in accounting. After graduation, he began working as an accountant for Delta Downs until he was hired as an assistant chief auditor by the Louisiana State Racing Commission. Word of Sammy’s skill didn’t take long to cross the Piney Woods of East Texas. In early 1994, the Texas Racing Commission offered him a job and persuaded him to return to the state of his birth.

Well known and respected among racing regulators across the country, Sammy was a remarkable man whose life was dedicated to ensuring that racing was safe for the participants and fair for the public. Over the years, he was a voracious student of the industry until he learned every facet of pari-mutuel horse and greyhound racing. Through his development of pari-mutuel wagering rules in Texas, which later became the starting point for the national model rules, Sammy became known far and wide as the guru of pari-mutuel. To Texas staff, Sammy became the go-to person for just about every racing issue. Sammy’s knowledge and opinions were seldom questioned, especially by those who knew him well, and coworkers learned that they had better have their facts and numbers straight before testing his expertise! In 2002, he was promoted to deputy director for pari-mutuels and licensing, and over the subsequent years he also oversaw the Finance and Information Technology departments. At his death, he was serving as deputy director for wagering and finance.

Sammy demonstrated a real passion for life in everything he did. He was an avid fan of the New Orleans Saints, and his love of football and competition extended to his participation in the Sabine River Fantasy Football league, where he was a proud four-time champion. Most importantly, he displayed a deep love for family and a fierce loyalty to friends. He was an amazing son, brother, uncle and friend that will be greatly missed.

A memorial service for Sammy was held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, November 29, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Vinton, Louisiana. The Mass was preceded by a Rosary and followed by a reception in the parish hall.

The family suggests that any memorial donations be made to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and designated for Masses in Sammy’s name or the building fund. Condolences for Sammy’s mother Jackie, brother Eddy or sister Kathy may be sent c/o Kathy Jackson, 5795 Broussard Road, Vinton, Louisiana 70668.


TTA Thanksgiving Holiday Office Closure

The TTA office will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday beginning at 5pm today (Tuesday, November 25) through the rest of this week.  Staff will be back in the office on Monday morning, December 1st.

We wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


News and Notes for November 21, 2014



Last Saturday was a big night for progeny of the stallions at Valor Farm, as three different sires standing at the facility near Pilot Point, Texas, combined to take five of the six top-three finishers in the two divisions of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park.

In the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter division for 2-year-old fillies, Robert and Myrna Luttrell’s homebred Promise Me Silver romped to a 7 ¼-length victory as the 1-5 favorite. Cliff Berry rode the filly by Silver City, Texas’ leading freshman sire, to a six-furlong clocking in 1:12.57. Bret Calhoun trains the Texas-bred, who is now undefeated with three wins from three starts and earnings of $123,355. She broke her maiden at Lone Star Park in May and then took the $108,300 Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs in June. Read more »


Industry Loses a Friend – Sammy Jackson Passes Away

All of us in the Texas racing industry lost a dear friend and valued coworker Monday evening with the passing of Samuel “Sammy” Jackson. With his family at his side, Sammy passed away yesterday at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center after a prolonged illness. Sammy held a variety of positions with the Texas Racing Commission since joining the agency in 1994, and most recently served as the Deputy Director for Finance and Wagering. Sammy was admired for his sense of humor and his encyclopedic knowledge of pari-mutuel issues, both within the agency and throughout the racing industry. Sammy will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.


News and Notes for November 14, 2014



On Saturday, Retama Park will host the double feature of the Darby’s Daughter and the My Dandy divisions of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series, each worth $75,000 at a distance of six furlongs.

The Darby’s Daughter division for 2-year-old fillies is carded as the 6th race and has drawn a field of 8.  Robert Luttrell’s undefeated homebred Promise Me Silver (Silver City – Uno Mas Promesa) is the 5-2 favorite, coming off a nice win in the $100,000 Debutante Stakes at Churchill on June 21st.  The filly is trained by Bret Calhoun, who will also saddle Santacafe (Early Flyer – Cafe Pacific) for owner Douglas Scharbauer.  Santacafe most recently finished 2nd in the TTA Sales Futurity at Lone Star Park in July. Read more »