News and Notes for February 1, 2013


Saturday, January 26 was a great evening for Sam Houston Race Park, with exciting finishes in each of the four stakes races, impressive handle numbers and an opportunity to support a well-respected national charity.

Joyful Victory was the victor of the inaugural $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, setting a new track record for the distance of 1 1/16 miles.  Ridden by Rosie Napravik for trainer Larry Jones, Joyful Victory is under consideration for the G1 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita.

Jones also trained Ikon Ike, who won the $75,000 Champion Energy Services Stakes, setting a new track record for five furlongs on the turf, with Rosie Napravik aboard.

Swift Warrior lived up to his name, taking the G3 $200,000 Connally Turf Cup for trainer John Terranova and Bret Calhoun saw his fourth stakes win of the meet with Tour Guide in the $50,000 Allen’s Landing Stakes.

The Houston chapter of the Susan G. Komen For the Cure was the beneficiary of the Ladies Classic, garnering a donation in excess of $10,000.

A total of $2,292,000 was wagered for the evening’s card, both live and simulcast, with $312,000 bet on the Ladies Classic and $358,000 on the Connally Turf Cup, which was the highest since 2006.

Saturday’s feature race is the $50,000 Bucharest Stakes, for Accredited Texas-Breds at five furlongs on the turf.  Cowgirl N Up, recent winner of the $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes, will take on seven male rivals, including Solar Charge who comes off a second place finish in the Spirit of Texas Stakes, and Deliverer, making his 50th career start.

The planned purchase of Retama Park by Pinnacle Entertainment, a transaction approved in December by the Texas Racing Commission, was completed Jan. 30th. Nevada-based Pinnacle acquired a majority ownership interest in the racing license in return for cash consideration of $15 million.

Pinnacle Retama Partners will use the proceeds of the transaction primarily to refinance the existing indebtedness of Retama Development Corporation. In addition, Pinnacle entered into a management contract with RDC to manage operations of Retama.

In conjunction with the closing, RDC repaid approximately $3.3 million of loans owned by the company that were used to maintain continuity in the operations of Retama Park Racetrack.

Pinnacle president Anthony Sanfilippo said, “We are very excited to welcome Retama Park to the Pinnacle Entertainment family. We will immediately begin work to integrate Retama Park into our portfolio and look forward to leveraging Pinnacle’s operational and marketing expertise to improve the track’s operating performance. Long term, we believe Retama Park offers Pinnacle and its stakeholders tremendous strategic value in terms of expanding our geographic reach to the vibrant Texas markets of San Antonio and Austin and further diversifying our operating base. We thank Retama Development Corporation, the City of Selma, Retama Partners Limited, and the Texas Racing Commission for their support and assistance in bringing this transaction to successful completion.”

Lone Star is now in the process of completely renovating the main track surface, along with major grandstand improvements to be in place in time for the 13-week, 2013 Spring Thoroughbred Season beginning Thursday, April 11.

The track reconditioning will feature a new base and mixture to ensure track safety and consistency.

The 1,200 seat Silks Dining Terraces, located on the fourth floor of the grandstand, are undergoing a dramatic renovation including new tables and chairs, a completely redesigned television presentation and a new dining menu.

Track management recently announced a new exclusion policy which is consistent with regulations adopted by other racetracks and a written position issued by the Jockey Club last month: “Lone Star Park is committed to ensuring that the racing programs we conduct reflect the highest standards of safety and integrity. Lone Star Park reserves the right not to allocate stalls or accept entries from any horsemen on the suspended list from either the American Quarter Horse Association or The Jockey Club.”

Also, the track’s 2013 Stakes Schedule will consist of 11 stakes races totaling over $1.1 million. The schedule is highlighted by the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (Grade III) for three year olds and up at 1-1/16 miles on Monday, May 27 and the $200,000 Texas Mile (Grade III) for three year olds and up at one mile on Saturday, April 27. Check out for a complete stakes schedule listing.

An OTTB Trainer Challenge and All Thoroughbred Horse Show where 10 retired racehorses will compete for $10,000 in prize money is scheduled for April 27th at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth.  Sponsored by Remember Me Rescue, Hall of Fame Jockey Julie Krone will serve as celebrity judge for the Trainers Challenge.

After the Challenge, the participating horses will be auctioned and the proceeds will benefit the Remember Me Rescue Intensive Care Unit to be built at the RMR facility.  Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg will serve as auctioneer.

The Paddock Foundation is pleased to sponsor this event which will showcase the versatility of off-track Thoroughbreds.

For more information, go to

Notes: A Form 1099 has been mailed to all recipients of ATB awards in the total amount of $600 or more in calendar year 2012…Remember to make your reservations for the TTA Annual Meeting and Awards Banquet…Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund Scholarship applications must be received in the TTA office by Friday, February 15th…2013 Reserved Seats & Concert VIP tickets for Lone Star Park will go on sale February 18th… The next Commission Meeting is set for Feb. 19th…This Saturday is the first ever Food Truck Night at Sam Houston Race Park featuring Bernie’s Burger Bus, Kurbside Eats, Good Dog Hot Dog, Happy Endings & Porch Swing Desserts…Eileen Hartis was the winner of the run-off election for the final at-large position on the TTA Board of Directors…Brent Savage’s Burbon Road has been named the 2012 Texas Champion Claimer…Crossbow, a graded stakes-placed son of Bernardini, has been retired from racing and will enter stud at Clarence Scharbauer Jr.’s Valor Farm near Pilot Point, standing for a fee of $1,500 live foal payable Oct. 1 of year bred…Effective immediately, Sam Houston Race Park’s first post time on Saturday evenings will now be 6:30.