News and Notes for March 13, 2015

NEWS AND NOTES FOR MARCH 13, 2015

LEGISLATION FILED TO HELP INCREASE PURSES
Some potentially positive news from Austin is the filing of Senate Bill 1027 by Senator Kel Seliger, a Republican from Amarillo serving District 31.  The bill would allow racetracks to advance supplementary purse funds, then receive an annual refund of state taxes paid to offset the increase in purses over those awarded in the base year of 2014.

It calls for reimbursing taxes such as sales, franchise, and mixed beverage taxes, plus the state’s share of the handle. Since the bill provides for a tax refund, the amount reimbursed to a track could not exceed the amount of taxes paid by that track.

Complete bill text is available at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=84R&Bill=SB1027

You may email a note of thanks to Senator Seliger at kel.seliger@senate.state.tx.us or call his office at 512.463.0131.

It would also be most beneficial for you to contact your specific Senator and Representative to ask for his/her support of this bill.  To find out who represents you, simply go to http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx and type in your address.

The email address format for Senators is firstname..lastname@senate.state.tx.us and for Representatives is firstname.lastname@house.state.tx.us.

ROSES TO RIBBONS EVENT A SUCCESS
The Paddock Foundation’s inaugural Roses to Ribbons Old Fashioned Horse Fair at Sam Houston Race Park on March 8 was deemed a success in spite of inclement weather.

The goal of the event was to showcase Thoroughbred racehorses ready to transition into new careers and to introduce potential purchasers to trainers and owners. Eleven Thoroughbreds were presented in the Sam Houston paddock with two purchased that morning.

The event also included vendor and information tables. The Paddock Foundation is planning to conduct a Roses to Ribbons event at each of the three Class I racetracks prior to the conclusion of their Thoroughbred race meet. Please watch for further information to come.

SAM HOUSTON THOROUGHBRED MEET STATISTICS
Total handle for the recently concluded 32-day Thoroughbred meet at Sam Houston Race Park increased more than 15%, totaling $51,258,598 – up from $44,493,991 in 2014.  2015 also marked the fourth consecutive year of average daily handle gains for the annual Thoroughbred season.  Total average daily handle ticked up to $1,601,537 for the meet.

“This was another successful Thoroughbred racing season with many notable gains,” said Sam Houston Race Park president, Andrea Young.  “We were very pleased to top the $2-million mark seven times this season compared to just once in 2014. Without a doubt, the success and the excitement surrounding this meet continue to build.”

Racing fans in Houston and across the country continued to take note of the track for its industry-low 12% take-out of multi-race wagers including the Pick 3 and Pick 4. This marked the second consecutive year of increases in handle on these wagers. Total multi-race wagers exceeded $6.23 million in 2015, an increase of 22%.

Other notable highlights from the 2015 season include:
•    Average field size increase 5% to 8.4 runners per race
•    Daily purses averaged $167,900 per day, a slight decrease over 2014
•    Live attendance for Friday and Saturday increased to a daily average of 6,622, 8% over the 6,182 daily average from 2014.

The largest weekend of the season came on March 6 and 7, when the track hosted the fourth annual Camel and Ostrich Races, adding Zebras for this year’s festivities. The highly entertaining weekend attracted a crowd of 24,568, topping the record-setting attendance of 23,685 last year, and up significantly from 18,231 fans in 2013.

Cassatt, winner of the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the richest Thoroughbred race in Texas, was named 2015 Horse of the Meet at Sam Houston Race Park.

Bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant Farm, Cassatt’s record stands at 6 wins from 9 starts. The winner’s share of $232,800 from the Houston Ladies Classic vaulted her career earnings to $603,033.

The leading owner, trainer and jockey awards were also presented on the final day of the meeting. Steve Asmussen won his seventh training title at the Houston racetrack, finishing the meet with 28 wins. He was honored as top trainer here in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2014.

Danny Pish finished second with 22 wins, followed by Shea Stuart with 13 victories and Bret Calhoun, who won 12 races.

Jockey Deshawn Parker made his Sam Houston Race Park debut last year, finishing a close second in the standings to defending champion Gerardo Mora. With support from many trainers, Parker finished the season with 55 wins. He was the leading rider in money earned with $657,746 and a stellar 51% in-the-money statistic.  Parker won two stakes this meet, guiding the Ghost is Clear to victory in the $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup Stakes for Mike Maker and I am Jane Dough in the $50,000 Tomball Stakes for Danny Pish.

Parker, 44, celebrated a career milestone in Houston, winning the 4,700th race of his career on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.

David Cabrera, who was an apprentice last year, was second in the standings with 38 wins. The 22-year-old native of Guanajuato, Mexico is a jockey to watch with leading rider titles at Lone Star Park and Retama Park in 2014. Lindey Wade, leading rider as Sam Houston in 2011, finished third with 34 victories and Gerardo Mora, who won the title in 2013 and 2014, was fourth with 32 wins.

Texas businessman Danny Keene won his second Sam Houston Race Park leading owner title with 15 wins. Keene’s winners were a mix of maidens and allowance runners with several horses winning more than once, including stable star Internet Success with a perfect 3-for-3 record this meet.

Keene entrusted Shea Stuart to train the majority of his runners, while a few horses were conditioned by Stuart’s father, Clint.

Keene, a TTA director who owns a plumbing contractor company in McKinney, has been involved in Thoroughbred racing for less than five years. He was honored as leading owner of the 2013 Lone Star Park meet and tied with Karl Broberg as leading owner in 2014.

Steve Asmussen was second in the owner standings with 14 wins and George Bryant followed with seven victories.

VOTE NOW FOR THE 2014 TEXAS CHAMPION CLAIMER
The Texas Champion Claimer Award is for Accredited Texas-breds who won at least three claiming or allowance/optional claiming races at Texas racetracks last year. The winning horse and his or her connections will be recognized alongside the other 2014 Texas Champions at the TTA Annual Conference and Awards Banquet at Lone Star Park this summer.

The winner of the Texas Champion Claimer Award will be determined by online voting. To cast your vote, go to http://texasthoroughbred.com/vote-now-for-the-2014-texas-champion-claimer/.  Voting closes on Monday, March 16 at 5pm.

TTA ANNUAL MEETING AND AWARDS DINNER
Save the date of June 20 for the TTA Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner at Lone Star Park.  The Hyatt Place Arlington is offering a special room rate of $119 plus tax, with a reservation deadline of May 18th.  Call 817.649.7676 for hotel reservations at the Texas Thoroughbred rate.

Event invitations will mail to all TTA members in April.  Contact the TTA office at 512.458.6133 if you are interested in being an event sponsor.

GRAYSON-JOCKEY CLUB FUNDS 19 PROJECTS
The board of directors of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has approved a budget of $1,100,500 to fund research in 2015, including 10 new projects, 7 second-year projects, and 2 career development awards to encourage young scientists.

The new projects address an important range of issues, including laminitis, foal pneumonia, stem cell treatment, stress hormones that affect neurological functions in newborn foals, and equine herpesvirus.

NOTES: Best of racing luck to the connections of Accredited Texas-bred Platinum Song (My Golden Song – Rocket Launch), who is entered in today’s $75,000 Gold Coast Stakes at Delta Downs. Also, Thegirlinthatsong (My Golden Song – Belle of the Band) will take on 6 foes in Sunday’s $400,000 (gr. 1) Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita…We extend our sympathy to the family of TTA member James “Jimmy” Smith DVM, 72, of Winters, who passed away March 9th… Mark your calendar to attend the TOBA Owner’s Seminar at Lone Star Park on March 29; register at http://bit.ly/10kiJL9 … Texas Racing Commission executive director Chuck Trout has imposed a $100,000 fine on jockey Roman Chapa, who was initially fined $25,000 and suspended five years after it was determined he carried an electrical shocking device during the Richard King Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on January 17… The Houston Bar Association Animal Law Section is hosting an Equine Law Seminar at the Houston Polo Club on April 9th; for more info and to register, go to: http://www.lawsforpawsblog.com/ …The NTRA has announced its federal legislative agenda for the 114th Congress, which convened in January. Economic issues again dominate the agenda as tax matters re-emerge in the new Congress along with Internet gaming, immigration and racehorse drug and therapeutic medication regulation and testing. – See more at: http://www.ntra.com/en/news-media/press-releases/2015/3/11/ntra-unveils-2015-federal-agenda-for-washington-dc/#sthash.hY7pLCsA.dpuf.