News and Notes for February 8, 2013


The Texas Racing Commission has issued a report on wagering statistics for the period January 1 – 27, 2012 as compared to the same period in 2013.

The report indicates a 7.93% increase in all wagers at horse tracks, to total $23,718,403, with Lone Star Park showing an increase of 2.2%, Retama realizing an increase of 3.42%, Houston reporting an increase of 9.91% and Gillespie up by 11.98%.  The year is off to a good start.

A strong of field of accredited Texas-breds took to the Connally Turf Course last Saturday night for the $50,000 Bucharest Stakes at five furlongs, and Solar Charge came through with a valiant effort to record the victory. The 6-year-old son of Authenticate is trained by Danny Pish for owners H & H Ranch.

Saturday’s feature at Sam Houston Race Park is the $50,000 Tomball Stakes, for accredited Texas-bred fillies and mares at a mile and one-sixteenth over the Connally Turf Course.

The nine-horse field includes five turf fillies and mares from the $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes on opening night of the Sam Houston Race Park season 19, who will renew their rivalry: Im a Bear, Patty’s Pride, Sera’s Tunnel, Smiles Golden Song and Vilao, the early favorite. Completing the field are Manyriverstocross, Perfect Meadow, Sapphirendiamonds and Touched by Faith.

At the request of THP Board Member Lane Hutchins, a discussion airing the concerns of Texas horsemen regarding perceived laxity and delay of drug violation penalty enforcement was held at the Texas Racing Commission headquarters on February 5th. I attended along with TxRC Executive Director Chuck Trout, Chief Steward Ricky Walker, Chief Veterinarian Dr. Ken Quirk, Public Information Officer Jean Cook, Director of Investigations Jim Blodgett, and Counsel Mark Fenner, as well as THP Board Members Lane Hutchins and R.D. Weilburg MD, and active THP member Shreta Martinez.

During the meeting, the TxRC staff expressed extreme interest in horsemen’s concerns and perspectives, and the staff has already instituted measures to speed due process. The TxRC has hired a new litigator to prosecute cases that are outstanding and to deal in timely fashion with any new restraining orders which may ensue.

There will be no stays issued for penalties in the future, unless there are, “overwhelming mitigating circumstances which might lead to a maximum stay of seven days.”

The Commission staff wants to actively work with horsemen to discover and develop tests for new performance-enhancing drugs, and is working with State Legislators and the DEA to facilitate measures of defining and controlling the use of forbidden substances. Frequent unannounced sweeps of the racetrack stable areas, veterinarian practice standards, and control of access to horses on race day were other subjects discussed.

The TTA Awards Banquet scheduled for Saturday, February 16th at Sam Houston Race Park initially was to be in the Pavilion Centre and has now been moved to the San Jacinto Suite in the grandstand.  Tickets are still available – contact the TTA office to make reservations.  Cocktail hour is at 6pm, followed by the awards dinner at 7.

According to an article by Sam Houston Race Park, it has been the first stop for many noted jockeys, such as Corey Lanerie, Jeremy Beasley, Edwin Maldonado and Quincy Hamilton.

Now, 20-year-old Gerardo Mora is the one to watch. He captured his first leading rider title two months ago at Retama Park when he won 39 races, 11 more than Alfredo Contreras. Through the first three weeks of the Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred season, Mora is in second-place in the standings behind veteran rider Glen Murphy.

“He’s a competent young rider with a very good work ethic,” notes Pish. “I like the fact that he works every day to get better, and remains grounded and very humble.”

Mora has won ten races in the first three weeks of the Sam Houston Race Park meet, including a stakes victory in the $50,000 Bara Lass aboard Platinum Song for Pish on Texas Champions Weekend. Quite possibly his most impressive performance came on Saturday, February 2. Mora was named on Arthur’s Court, making his debut in a mile and one-sixteenth turf maiden special weight. Breaking from post position ten, Arthur’s Court was eight lengths off the leader heading into the stretch. Mora began to pass horses before finding room at the eighth pole, shooting between horses and rallying for the win. The win payout on Mora’s first time starter at 23-1 was $49.60.

Mora is indeed a jockey with a great future ahead of him. His agent sums it up quite convincingly when he uses just two words to describe Gerardo Mora: “Total package.”

The Keeneland Library has secured the Thoroughbred Times library collection, which was recently sold via an online auction, comprising approximately 10,000 volumes and 57 file cabinets comprising books, journals, historic clip files and photographs are among the contents acquired. The collection will be open to the public once it is inventoried and cataloged.

Books and journals, some dating from the 19th century, which cover an extensive range of Thoroughbred-related topics, highlight the Thoroughbred Times collection. Featured among its other contents are complete runs of such fundamental titles as The Blood-Horse, Daily Racing Form Monthly Charts, Thoroughbred Record and Thoroughbred Times, as well as such historical materials as The Spirit of the Times, Turf Field and Farm, Irish Racing Calendar and British Racing Calendar. The collection includes stallion registries and stud books from Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin America and the United States.

Keeneland also acquired approximately 220,000 photographic prints and 250,000 digital images from the 1940s to the present. What a treasure!

Notes: The Lone Star State’s Texas Bling is the only Texas-bred in the list of 329 early Triple Crown nominees…The report on Thoroughbred Racing Economic Indicators comparing January 2013 to January 2012 shows a 2.02% decline in all wagering on US races, a 0.42% increase in US purses and a 7.3% decline in US race days…Wiener Dogs take the track Saturday night at SHRP… All Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund scholarship applications must be received in the TTA office by Friday, February 15th. The Fasig-Tipton Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale is coming up on April 3 at Lone Star Park…Our sympathies go out to the family of Bill Hitt, who passed away January 30th.