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.

McPeek announced earlier this year that he would be sending a string to Houston for the 2015 Thoroughbred meet. McPeek made his first trip to Sam Houston in 2002 with his well-regarded mare Take Charge Lady, winner of the $275,000 NTRA Great State Challenge Distaff.  He returned in 2013 and won the Maxxam Gold Cup with Unstoppable U. The Kentucky-based horseman made a third trip to Houston last March with Magic City Thoroughbred Partners Frac Daddy, who ran a game second in the 2014 Maxxam Gold Cup and followed that with a victory in the Grade 3, Ben Ali at Keeneland.

Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket, the upset winner in the 2012 Travers Stakes at Saratoga, and Frac Daddy, are two of the McPeek standouts to be shipped to Houston. He has tabbed Matt Shirer to oversee his Houston barn.

Ben Colebrook is a young trainer who worked as an assistant to noted conditioner Christophe Clement.  He went on his own in 2013 and saddled his first stakes winner on October 17 when Sparkling Review won the Grade 3, Pin Oak Valley View at Keeneland. The daughter of Lemon Drop Kid is one of 20 Colebrook trainees coming to Houston in January.

“I was very happy with the surface and liked what I saw last January,” said Colebrook.  “My decision to run at Sam Houston is based on starting the year on a good, safe racetrack.”

Eric Reed won 17 races last year at SHRP, finishing third in the standings to Asmussen (29) and Pish (22). Reed rwill be back for the 2015 Thoroughbred meet and hopes to build on his success from his inaugural season here.

A solid group of Oklahoma horsemen, including Joe Offolter, Francisco Bravo, Kari Craddock, Kenneth Nolen, Jody Pruitt and Martin Lozano will also ship to Houston.

The Sam Houston Race Park barn area for the 32-day Thoroughbred meet opened on Thursday, December 4 and horses began training on December 11.

Nationally prominent conditioners including Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, Larry Jones and Graham Motion have shipped horses in for stakes. The 2015 Thoroughbred Stakes schedule will offer nearly $1.7 million in purses, and kicks off on January 16-17 with Texas Champions Weekend. The Houston Racing Festival follows on Saturday, January 24 and remains the richest day in Texas Thoroughbred racing. Featured events include the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint and the $50,000 Allen’s Landing Stakes. Proceeds from the Houston Racing Festival will once again benefit the Houston affiliate of the Susan G. Komen foundation. A complete stakes schedule is posted at

Fred Hutton will serve as racing secretary for the upcoming meet and was pleased with the interest from horsemen for the 2015 live racing season.

“We reviewed 1,900 stall applications and are still receiving calls from trainers interested in shipping horses to Sam Houston,” said Hutton. “The combination of Houston’s mild winter weather and the reputation of both our main and turf track appealed to a broad range of horsemen.”

Friday and Saturday post times for the 2015 Thoroughbred Meet will be 7 pm and 6 pm, respectively.  Post time is 1 pm every Monday and Tuesday afternoon.

Ballots in the TTA Board of Directors Election were tabulated in the TTA offices earlier this week.

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.

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.

We would like to welcome our new directors and extend our thanks to all the candidates.  The first board meeting of 2015 is scheduled for Saturday, January 17th at Sam Houston Race Park.

Judy Peek’s homebred Lasting Bubbles (Pulling Punches – Slim’s Secret) is the 5/2 favorite in Saturday’s $50,000 Bold Ego Handicap at Sunland Park. The 6-year-old mare trained by Kevin Peek was honored as the 2013 Texas Champion Older Filly/Mare.  Also in the field of 9 is 4-year-old filly Annie Git’r Done (Menhal – Annie’s No Orphan), bred by Michael K. Hunter and owned by Stephen P. Whiting.

Two-year-old gelding Plaska (Intimidator – Wild Mist) will take on four opponents in the $50,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fairgrounds on Saturday.  Bred by Quintin Holtz, Plaska runs for owner/trainer Sarah Delaney.

Robert Luttrall’s homebred Promise Me Silver (Silver City – Uno Mas Promesa) is among five contestants in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds.  Bret Calhoun will saddle the multiple stakes winner who is unbeaten in 3 starts, including wins in the Darby’s Daughter division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park in November and the Debutante Stakes at  Churchill in June.

The Texas Racing Commission’s Safety and Medication Working Group met at Sam Houston Race Park on Thursday of this week to discuss several items, including the adoption of RMTC-developed and ARCI-approved therapeutic medication thresholds.  TRC Executive Director Chuck Trout announced that the first Thoroughbred meet and the first Quarter Horse meet of 2015 will serve as phase-in periods, during which testing will be conducted and feedback will be provided to owners, trainers and veterinarians.  After the phase-in period, penalties will apply.

Specific information will be posted on the TRC website next week at

1) December 31, 2014 is the deadline for accrediting yearlings (foals of 2013) at the TTA member rate of $200 ($250 for non-members). The fee to accredit foals of 2013 AFTER December 31, 2014 is $1,500 for TTA members ($1,550 for non-members).
2) Be sure that mares that will foal in Texas in 2015 are Texas accredited and that ATB race fillies have been converted to breeding stock before they foal to be eligible for ATB breeder awards.
3) Nominate eligible foals of 2014 to the Texas Stallion Stakes Series for $100.
4) Nominate eligible foals of 2013 (not previously nominated) to the 2015 Texas Stallion Stakes Series for $500.
5) Nominate eligible Fasig-Tipton Texas sale graduates and Accredited Texas-Bred foals of 2013 to the 2015 TTA Sales Futurity ($100,000 est. per division).  (Accredited Texas-Breds that did not go through a Fasig-Tipton Texas sale must be nominated by berth.  Contact the TTA office if you need a berth.) The two divisions of the TTA Sales Futurity will be the only 2-year-old stakes races run at Lone Star Park in 2015.
6) Nominate accredited stallions that will be standing in Texas in 2015 to the Texas Stallion Stakes for the 2015 breeding season. All deadline dates are email, fax or postmark dates. See to download forms.

A provision that retroactively extends three-year tax depreciation for all racehorses was passed by Congress and is expected to pass into law with President Obama’s approval.

The bill, which extends retroactively through the end of 2014 numerous provisions which expired or were reduced at the end of 2013, allows taxpayers to depreciate racehorses 24 months of age and younger when purchased and placed into service on a three-year schedule as opposed to a seven-year schedule. The accelerated schedule better reflects the length of a typical racehorse’s career and is more equitable for owners.

H.R 5771 also retroactively extends two other provisions that spur investment in racehorses.

“Bonus depreciation” remains set at 50% and may be used by business owners who purchase and place in service qualified new depreciable property. This investment incentive permits taxpayers to depreciate in the first year 50% of qualified property purchased and placed into service. Yearlings that an owner purchases and puts into a training program are one example of eligible property.

The “Section 179 expense allowance” remains set at $500,000, with a $2 million threshold for qualified new or used property purchased and placed in service by small business owners in many industries. Total purchases of qualified property that exceed $2 million reduce the taxpayer’s expense allowance dollar for dollar. Broodmares may be eligible for expensing and are an example of used property because of their prior use as a racehorse or broodmare.

NOTES: Equibase has introduced a leaders’ list by foal crop that will enable users to determine which horse earned the most money, won the most races, or had the most stakes wins among its foal crop, available in the Stats Central section on…We offer our sincere condolences to the family of Hillary Farish Stratton, daughter of TTA Life Member W. S. Farish, who passed away last weekend…The TTA office will be closed in observance of the Christmas holiday from Wednesday, December 24 through Friday, December 26th…We wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas!