News and Notes for June 21, 2013


Texas Bling is scheduled to return to the track Monday at Lone Star Park to begin serious preparations for the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby (G3) on September 29. He has been freshened since Oaklawn’s meet ended in April after finishing second in the $150,000 Smarty Jones, fourth in the Grade 2, $600,000 Rebel, and eighth in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).

Danele Durham, who trains the horse for Hall’s Family Trust, said Texas Bling will have a start before the Oklahoma Derby, with an August 22 allowance at Remington, targeted to be his first race since the Arkansas Derby on April 13.

Three-year-old He Has Bling, stepped up for Hall’s Family Trust and Durham by winning a division of the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star in May and is now being pointed for the $50,000 Assault Stakes on Lone Star’s closing day card July 6.

On-Track Mobile Wagering made its debut in January, and there were some challenges in the early going, but officials have worked hard to implement major improvements.

The new program allows on-track customers to place wagers on both simulcast and live racing using their Smartphone, I-Pad or tablet.  A mobile website has been designed specifically for Sam Houston Race Park customers with expanded free Wi-Fi service to accommodate the service.

“Our racing fans gave us excellent feedback on the program over the past several months”, said racetrack president Andrea Young. “We know that mobile technology offers tremendous convenience and have made several improvements to ensure the highest quality of service. This has been one of many important initiatives for 2013 and we are pleased to be the first track in Texas to offer this amenity.”

Also at the track, the $5,000 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Handicapping Contest has begun, consisting of four qualifying rounds between June 15 and October 6 and covering 48 races in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. (The first qualifying Round is from June 15 to August 17). The top five finishers in each round advance to the Championship Round on Breeders’ Cup Friday and Saturday, November 1 and 2. First place in the Championship Round wins $2,500; second place wins $1,000; and third place wins $500. The winner of each Qualifying Round receives $250. For more information on the contest, visit

In a recent blog for Xpressbet, Joe Kristufek writes that tracks could go a long way toward keeping new fans coming through the turnstiles with a few relatively minor adjustments to their experience. While many are concerned with tackling such monsters as takeout, marketing, and wagering menus, there’s something much simpler that’s required to get newcomers hooked: sound.

Kristufek laments that at many tracks, you can’t hear the race call clearly. Fans spend 25 minutes in between races picking out a horse, only to have difficulty keeping track of it once the gates open. Not only that, the announcer’s call is usually what builds the drama of a race and provides the emotional hook that makes racing so irresistible.

Retama Park vice president and general manager Chris Corrado agrees.  Along with some general freshening, much-needed maintenance and repairs to the facility, he reports that Pinnacle Entertainment plans improvements to the track’s sound system.

We look forward to the opening of the fall Thoroughbred meet at the revamped facility.

Pinnacle Entertainment (PNK) announced in a press release that the Mississippi Gaming Commission unanimously approved the Company’s proposed acquisition of Ameristar Casinos. Completion of the transaction remains subject to the receipt of additional required regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

For many years, the Texas Thoroughbred Association has participated as a sponsor for the Texas State 4-H Roundup Horse Judging Contest. After receiving more than 30 thank-you letters just this week from participants, I was struck by the positive impact a relatively modest contribution can have on the lives of young Texans.  Cards came from counties all over the state: Bandera, Blanco, Clay, Collin, Denton, Fayette, Fort Bend, Franklin, Gregg, Hale, Hardeman, Hood, Jim Wells, Johnson, Nacogdoches, Randall, Swisher, and Williamson.  Some participants were new to 4-H, others had participated for as long as 10 years.

One young lady who plans to attend A&M seeking a veterinary degree wrote, “I am very thankful to have this opportunity to judge, and the chance to qualify for the National 4-H Horse Judging Contest.  Horse judging has helped me to learn new things about horses and understand how their conformation relates to their movement.”

She continues, “4-H has helped me in so many ways.  It is a great program that teaches kids how to be better leaders and citizens.  Over the years, I have grown and become more active in my projects, leadership and community service.  4-H has taught me many skills needed for college and many lessons that will go beyond college.  Because of your support, 4-H members are learning great lessons for life.  Thank you for helping me make my best even better.”

Other participants agree: “We all believe that in addition to making us better riders, participation in horse show judging improves our ability to make decisions, communicate decisions and stand behind those decisions, which also makes us better leaders.”

For more information, visit

NOTES: Daily Racing Form has done a nice article on TTA member Danny Keene of Greenville, TX, found at… She’s Intimadating, a 2-year-old Louisiana-bred by Intimidator, who stands at Asmussen Horse Center in Laredo, broke her maiden at Evangeline on June 13th, paying $77 to win…After posting a 10.1 work in the OBS Sale, an Accredited Texas-bred colt by Northern Afleet, out of World of Thanks, bred by TTA Director Eileen Hartis sold for $60,000 to Blinkers On Racing Stable…In a twist to the typical schedule, Lone Star will race on a Thursday through Saturday schedule this week and next, then add a Wednesday card during to its final week of racing, which will run July 3-6…Join John Lies trackside at Lone Star Park along with special guests, two-time Lone Star Park season champion jockey Chris Landeros and jockey Fabio Arguello, Jr., for Saturday’s Jockeys & Java… The following officers were elected at the June 15 TTA Board of Directors meeting: President – Ken Carson; 1st VP – Danny Shifflett; 2nd VP – Hal Wiggins; Secretary/Treasurer – Mark Martinez.  The Executive Committee comprises the officers along with immediate past-president Gearald Farris, and at-large members Ed Few and Jackie Rich.