ATB awards checks for the recently concluded Retama Park Thoroughbred meet should be in the mail by Monday, January 20th.

The awards percentages are as follows: Breeders awards: 7.22124% of purse money earned for placing 1, 2 or 3; Owner awards: 7.36995% of purse money earned for placing 1, 2 or 3; Stallion owner awards: 3.9714% of purse money earned for placing 1, 2 or 3; and Owner Bonus awards: 9.87477% of purse money earned for placing 1, 2 or 3 in any OPEN COMPANY race.

Two defending champions will be in action at Sam Houston Race Park this Friday when live racing returns for the annual Thoroughbred meeting.

Friday’s opening ten-race card will be highlighted by three Texas Champions Weekend stakes: the Yellow Rose for older fillies and mares; the Bara Lass for 3-year-old fillies and the San Jacinto Stakes with fillies and mares competing on the Connally Turf Course, each with a purse of $50,000.

Defending champion Cowgirl N Up leads the field of eight fillies and mares in the six furlong $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes. Owned and trained by Caroline Dodwell, the 5-year-old daughter of My Golden Song has always fared well on Texas Champions Weekend; in 2012, she was victorious in the Bara Lass.

She drew the rail and will face her stiffest test from stakes winners Lasing Bubbles (favorite), Platinum Song and Tastefullyxcessive. Platinum Song captured the 2013 Bara Lass for owner Scott Brown and prepped for the Yellow Rose with a win last month at Fair Grounds.

The Yellow Rose will run as the seventh race on the card with an approximate post time of 9:36 p.m. (CT). The field, from the rail: Cowgirl N Up, Expect Royalty, Nurse Goodnight, Lasting Bubbles, My Golden Belle, Platinum Song, Tastefullyxcessive, and Catchalooneybird.

A competitive field of 11 will go postward in Friday’s eighth race, the Bara Lass for 3-year-old fillies at a distance of six furlongs.

Trainer Jack Bruner has entered favorite Forever Since, the winner of the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes last month at Retama Park.

Trainer Bret Calhoun will send out Scooter’s Choice, owned by Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch; Ed Few’s Discreet Girl and Clarence Scharbauer’s homebred Coyote Queen.

Pish has an intriguing filly for owner John Silverthorne Ranch Inc., Swifterthantaylor, who will make her stakes debut following her eight-length maiden victory one month ago at Retama Park.

The field for the Bara Lass, from the rail out is: Discreet Girl; Bakken Baby, Scooter’s Choice, Miss P V Bailey, Way Too Naughty, Seneca Destiny, Forever Since, Anatery, Coyote Queen, and Thegirlinthatsong.

Fillies and mares will take to the Connally Turf Course for the mile and one-sixteenth San Jacinto Stakes. Last year Vilao, owned by Rugged Cross Racing, closed with authority to draw off to a three-length victory.

It was the first stakes win for her under trainer Rebecca Baker, who reports that despite an 11-month, layoff, Vilao is training well for the defense of her title on Friday evening.

From the rail: Green Briar Kitty , Ataka’s Special, Shezararebird, Mescaleress, Elegant Gamble, Patty’s Pride, Vilao, Smiles Golden Song, Royal Cha Cha, Triplemental, and Sera’s Tunnel.

While Friday night salutes the ladies, Saturday’s action features colts and geldings in the Star of Texas Stakes, Groovy Stakes, Richard King Stakes and Spirit of Texas Stakes, each with a purse of $50,000.

The Groovy Stakes has been a great springboard for young colts and geldings and will be the first of the four stakes contested Saturday evening. It will run as the sixth race, with an estimated post time of 9:10 p.m.

Stakes winners Circustown Flyer and Time Iz Flyin will renew their rivalry from last July’s TTA Sale Futurity at Lone Star Park. Circustown Flyer, owned by Ox Creek Farms, Inc. and trained by Bret Calhoun, will return to Sam Houston on Saturday night.

Jockey Cliff Berry and Calhoun have teamed up to win the last two editions of the Groovy; last year with Worldventurer and in 2012 with Sword Trick.

Circustown Flyer, drew the rail, followed by F J Uncle Vic, Feline Fever, Me Commanche, Time Iz Flyin, and Aces N Jacks.

Defending champion Gold Element returns to action in the Spirit of Texas Stakes for Wimp Free Racing Stable and trainer Bret Calhoun.

Solar Charge, who won the 2012 edition of the Spirit of Texas Stakes, and ran second last year, cannot be overlooked. The highest money earner in the field with a career bankroll of $361,609, will break from the outside post under jockey Glen Murphy.

The field from the rail out: Wagson,  F P Reign’s Lad, Gold Element, Triumph And Song (favorite), Jump In Line, and Solar Charge.

In the Star of Texas, Allen Milligan will saddle Texas Air, a capable veteran, for owner/breeder Paul Rigali, Jr. This will be the first start at Sam Houston for Texas Air, who won an allowance last month at Retama Park bu 11 ¼ lengths under rider Dakota Wood.

Trainer Danny Pish has two talented entrants, favorite Special U F O, seeking his fifth consecutive win for owners Southwestern Racing LLC., and Safe Range, a son of Valid Expectations, bred and owned by the partnership of W. S. Farish, Hugh Fitzsimmons and E. J. Hudson.

Special U F O will break from the rail, followed by Wampas Kitty, His Money’s Mine, Big Scrape, Tater Red, Texas Air, Dakota Wood and Safe Range.

The final stakes of Texas Champions Weekend is the Richard King Stakes, for 4-year-olds and upward at a mile and one-eighth on the Connally Turf Course.

Last year jockey Glen Murphy slipped through an opening on the rail to win aboard Skip a Smile, the 2011 TTA Texas Horse of the Year. Murphy will have another strong contender on Saturday evening with Valid Message. Running for trainer Karl Broberg, the 8-year-old son of top Texas sire, Valid Expectations, owned by Patricia Blackmon, will be making his 59th career start and shows no signs of slowing down with seven turf wins in 2013.

Broberg will also saddle  5-2 favorite Fly the Red Eye for owner H & H Ranch. The 6-year-old son of Early Flyer exits a runner -up finish in the $50,000 Texas Racing Hall of Fame Stakes on November 16 at Retama Park. Junior Chacaltana has the mount and will break from post position seven.

Quiet Acceleration is trainer Danny Pish’s homebred and the 5-year-old has solid turf credentials in his past performances. The dark bay gelding has made 25 starts on the lawn, winning seven races and earnings of $138,103.

The field for the Richard King also includes the entry of Doctor Romane, Mula Run, Spiderman Ridge, Palm Road, Anew Rumor, and Wild Slew.

KTDF Adjustment Bill Passes Senate Committee
A Kentucky Senate committee has approved legislation authorizing a more liberal use of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.  The bill, sponsored by Republican Sens. John Schickel and Damon Thayer, would adjust the KTDF statute to cover more horses per race in allowance/optional claiming races. Currently, no horse entered for a claiming price is eligible for KTDF money; under the bill Kentucky-breds entered in allowance/optional claiming races for a tag of $25,000 or more would be eligible to share in the KTDF share of the purse.

The legislation doesn’t generate additional funding for the KTDF, which relies on wagers made on track in Kentucky, including those made through Instant Racing machines at two tracks. The KTDF, however, gets no percentage of revenue from wagers made through advance deposit wagering providers, and another revenue-generator, off-track betting parlors, all shut down in 2013.

The California Horse Racing Board has unanimously voted to relax part of a rule voiding claims on horses placed on the veterinarian’s list for unsoundness.

Under the rule change, expected to take effect this spring, owners and trainers can designate prior to submitting a claim to accept a horse even if the claimed horse is placed on the vet’s list for unsoundness after a race. The designation would be made by checking a box on the claim slip submitted 15 minutes before scheduled post time.

NOTES: Best of luck to trainer Danny Pish with Got Shades in the  $200,000 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday…The catalog for the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale is now available online via the auction company’s website…Barretts Equine Limited announced that 40 horses have been supplemented to the January mixed sale that will be held Jan. 27 at Fairplex Park in Pomona, CA… HRTV will again provide live coverage of the 43rd annual Eclipse Awards ceremony at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla., from 8-11 p.m. (EST) Saturday, Jan. 18…The Jockey Club was among nine organizations that filed as Amici Curiae (“friends of the court”) in the AQHA’s cloning case earlier this month, officially supporting the AQHA’s request of a Fifth Circuit court to reverse a federal judge’s ruling requiring the organization to register clones… Iowa breeders are seeking legislation to end a requirement that a registered stallion in the state must be owned by an Iowa resident. Currently, at least 51% of an Iowa-registered sire must be owned by an Iowa resident… Has anyone had a Texas foal yet this year? If so, please let us know the details: sire, dam, sex of foal, date foaled, and post a photo if you can…Check out the new “Horse Racing – Texas Style” Facebook page that promotes interest in Texas horse racing…There are still some 2014 stallion seasons available for purchase: see the list at…Pointing your 3-year-old horse toward the Texas Stallion Stakes? The next race will be February 15 at a distance of 7 furlongs.