News and Notes for March 6, 2015


Competitive battles are taking place for the leading jockey, trainer and owner honors at Sam Houston Race Park with just four days remaining in the 2015 Thoroughbred racing season.

Veteran jockey Deshawn Parker is on top with 49 wins with David Cabrera in second with 36. Lindey Wade, who was leading rider here in 2011, is third with 29 wins.

Steve Asmussen, who has won five leading training titles at Sam Houston Race Park, has been highly competitive throughout the meet and currently has 23 wins. Danny Pish has four titles here and is in second-place in the standings with 21 wins.  Bret Calhoun is third with 11 victories.

Asmussen will battle to the wire with Texas businessman Danny Keene for the owner of the meet title. Asmussen has won 11 races while Keene’s horses have made 10 trips to the winner’s circle. Shea Stuart is training for Keene in Houston this year.

Trainer Bret Calhoun brings in Myrna and Robert Luttrell’s snappy Texas-bred Promise Me Silver (Silver City – Uno Mas Promesa) to take on eight foes in the $150,000 Honeybee Stakes (gr. III), going a mile and 1/16th at Oaklawn on Saturday.

The undefeated 3-year-old filly broke her maiden with a 6 ¾ length win at Lone Star Park last May, going on to win 4 more stakes at a distance of 6-furlongs: the $100,000 Debutante Stakes at Churchill in June, the Darby’s Daughter division of the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park in November, the $50,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds in December and the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn on January 15th.  Most recently, she took the  7-furlong Two Altazano division of the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Houston on Valentine’s Day by 9 ¾ lengths. Clifton Berry will pilot the 3-1 favorite.

Coming off a win in the $100,000 King Cotton Stakes on February 7th, Accredited Texas-bred Ivan Fallunovalot (Valid Expectations – Flashdance Missy) is the 6-5 favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 Hot Springs Stakes. The 5-year-old gelding bred by Eileen Hartis has a career record of 15-9-1-1 and earnings of $261,910.

Texas Racing Commission stewards suspended jockey Roman Chapa five years and fined him $25,000 – the maximum penalties allowed under Texas law – for carrying an illegal electrical device while riding Quiet Acceleration to victory in the Richard King Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on January 17th.

The stewards, who conducted a hearing on the matter last Friday, found Chapa in violation of four rules: unlawful influence on racing (Rule 3.16); influence of race prohibited (311.206); inhumane treatment of horse or greyhound (311.207); and possession of contraband (311.215). They referred the case to Texas Racing Commission executive director Chuck Trout, who has the authority to increase the fine to $100,000 if he believes it is warranted.

Stewards also ordered Quiet Acceleration be unplaced in the Richard King Stakes, disqualifying him from purse money and making Fly the Red Eye the official winner.  According to TRC officials, Chapa has now filed an appeal.

Claiming horses fill the vast majority of race cards every day, but these hard-workers rarely receive recognition so the Texas Thoroughbred Association created the Texas Champion Claimer Award. The winning horse and his or her connections will be recognized alongside the other 2014 Texas Champions at the TTA Annual Conference and Awards Banquet at Lone Star Park this summer.

The Texas Champion Claimer Award is for Accredited Texas-breds who won at least three claiming or allowance/optional claiming races at Texas racetracks last year.

The winner of the Texas Champion Claimer Award will be determined by online voting. Only one vote will be counted per person and automated attempts to vote or duplicate votes will be disallowed. Voting closes on Monday, March 16 at 5 p.m. Central. Results will be posted online the following week.

For more information and to cast your vote, go to

In February, pari-mutuel handle fell 3.66% to $763,403,451 when compared with the same month last year, according to industry economic indicators released March 4 by Equibase. Those declines followed an encouraging month in January, when handle was up 1.52% compared with January 2014. But the February declines mean year-to-date handle is down 1.06% to $1,575,985,375 when compared with last year.

Some of the February handle decline on U.S. races can be attributed to a 1.42% decline in race dates to 277 and 2.98% decline in races to 2,341. In February, tracks cancelled either their entire cards or the majority of their cards 42 times because of bad weather.

Also likely impacting handle is a continued dispute over simulcast rates that is keeping signals from Stronach Group tracks, and others, from being offered at simulcast venues represented by the MidAtlantic Cooperative.

Along with the 2.98% decline in total races in February, there was a similar decline in U.S. purses for the month, down 2.57% to $60,854,668. For the year, purses are down 2.19% to $126,881,597.

NOTES: Legislation that would put a constitutional amendment legalizing pari-mutuel wagering to a vote in 2016 passed an important Georgia Senate committee March 4…Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced a 10% increase in overnight purses, effective March 7, for the remainder of its 143rd Thoroughbred racing season that concludes March 29… The Roses to Ribbons Old-Fashioned Horse Fair will take place at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 8th at Sam Houston Race Park.  For information, see