News and Notes for November 22, 2013


The Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame gala set a festive tone last Saturday evening at Retama Park.  Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg served as Master of Ceremonies for the event honoring inductees Dr. Glenn Blodgett, Tami Purcell Burklund, Arthur A. Seeligson Jr., horses Dashingly, Hadif and Kontiki, and presentation of the JoAnn Weber Distinguished Service Award to Jeff Coady of Coady Photography.  After the induction ceremony, approximately 170 guests enjoyed a fabulous buffet and had the opportunity to bid on many live and silent auction items.  All proceeds benefit the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame, a 501C3 charitable organization that supports the Groom Elite Program, as well as the Saddle Light Center for Therapeutic Horsemanship.

Later in the evening, Special U F O quickly took command of the $50,000 Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Stakes and won by 3 1/2-lengths over the favored Fly the Red Eye.  The 3-year-old gelding by Special Rate was bred by his owners, Southwestern Racing LLC. The win marked Special U F O’s first in a stakes and his fifth career victory  from 10 starts.  He now has career earnings of $70,692.

Winner of the 2012 $50,000 Fiesta Mile, the favored Smiles Golden Song prevailed again in this year’s running by 2 1/4-lengths over Shezararebird. Racing for her breeder, Sylvia Baird, the 4-year-old daughter of My Golden Song now boasts a career record of 19-7-2-1 with earnings of $146,601.

Thanks to the generosity of stallion owners across the region, you have the opportunity to purchase a 2014 breeding season at a special price.  The auction includes seasons to Angliana, A. P. Million, Chief Three Sox, Copy Cat Leader, Crossbow, Early Flyer, Feed Me More, Grasshopper, Grave Digger, Indygo Mountain, Intimidator, Jet Phone, Littleexpectations, My Golden Song, Oratory, Orderly, Power Storm, Primal Storm, Rubiyat, Silver City, Sing Baby Sing, Storm Broker, Teed Off, Too Much Bling and Wimbledon.

Bidding in the Texas Thoroughbred Association Online Stallion Season Auction closes at 5pm on December 2nd.  Don’t miss out on a great deal – place your bid at:

Online Stallion Auction

All TTA members are invited to join us at Retama Park on Saturday, December 7th for an evening of entertainment, fine dining and live racing.  We will be featuring the $75,000 Guaranteed Darby’s Daughter Texas Stallion Stakes and the $75,000 Guaranteed My Dandy Texas Stallion Stakes.

A special section of the Terrace Dining Room will be reserved for TTA members and their guests, who will be able to enjoy a Prime Rib Buffet at the special price of $14.95 per person (normally $19.95) and a complimentary Retama Park racing program.

Also, TTA members in attendance will be entered into a prize drawing to win 5 prime lower level San Antonio Spurs tickets (Valued at $650) or a tablet computer (Valued at $300) – courtesy of M2 Technology.  Prize drawings will take place in the Winner’s Circle between divisions of the Texas Stallion Stakes and members must be present to win.

Take advantage of this special opportunity to socialize with other TTA members and enjoy an evening of entertainment at Retama Park.  To attend, you must make your reservations no later than Tuesday, December 3rd by calling Alisha at 210.651.7000 Extension 0, and use the offer code “TTA”.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Owners of horses running in the races will receive preferred seating and be given credentials displaying the name of their horse.  When you call for reservations, please let Alisha know the number of guests in your party so we can have the appropriate number of badges/buttons available.

The North American International Catalogue Standards Committee has issued a reminder that effective Jan. 1, 2014, additional quality control requirements will be implemented for races in North America eligible for non-listed black-type in catalogs compliant with guidelines required by the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers (SITA).

See for more information.

An article in Daily Racing Form reports that casino gaming operations in Fair Grounds’ business portfolio continue to prop up a racing purse structure that would be in significant decline if it relied on betting handle alone.

Fair Grounds opens an 84-day meet today with competitive average daily purses expected to be paid out at about the same level offered during the 2012-2013 meet, roughly $320,000 per day including stakes, and around $240,000 per day without them. But average daily all-sources handle last year declined by 8.5 percent compared with the previous season, and betting by that measure has fallen there by about 15% since the 2009-2010 race meet. It’s the purse-dedicated revenue from the track’s other gambling sources keeping Fair Grounds a desirable winter racing destination.

Despite the quality evident in much of the racing product last March, betting cratered during the month, falling more than 18% compared with March 2012, the second time in three years that March betting declined precipitously.

Fair Grounds hopes it has addressed one factor in the late-season betting drops – its troublesome grass course, which has been renovated.

Racing secretary Jason Boulet, said one area of focus this meet will be managing that turf course. Boulet said he will try to limit turf use to two races a day on weekday cards and three per day on weekends, though those goals are always subject to the requirement of filling races four or five times a week. Four-day race weeks will be the norm for much of the season, with five-day weeks commencing in March.

NOTES: Democratic Kentucky State Rep. Larry Clark has drafted legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to allow three stand-alone casinos, plus five others at horse tracks, stating the proposal could generate $286 million a year in new revenue. If approved by the Legislature, the proposal would then be placed on the ballot for voters to ratify or reject next November…Due to ongoing competitive challenges that include gaming-enhanced purses at other racetracks and continued growth of casino competition in its home region, Churchill Downs has announced a reduction in purses that will affect four races scheduled during the eight days remaining in the 25-day fall meet that continues through Saturday, Nov. 30.. The Oklahoma Equine Alliance released a comprehensive study this week showing the economic impact generated by the Oklahoma Equine Industry reached $3.6 billion in 2012, yielding roughly 35,070 full time equivalent jobs… Full, highly competitive fields are expected for the 15th Annual Claiming Crown at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 7 after horsemen from throughout the East Coast and Midwest produced 232 nominations for the $1 million eight-race showcase for the country’s top claiming horses…Citing impending insolvency for the state Thoroughbred and harness racing regulatory commissions due to rising personnel costs and the expansion of Internet betting that isn’t subject to the pari-mutuel tax that finances them, Pennsylvania’s top two state senators are supporting a bill to dissolve those commissions and shift regulatory responsibility for the sport to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.  The cost would be offset partly by new licensing fees for racing participants and for drug-testing of horses…The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has announced that horsemen have reached an agreement with Illinois race tracks and other racing stakeholders to extend the state’s advance deposit wagering law for three years beyond its scheduled expiration on Jan. 31, 2014. The agreement, which must be approved by Illinois lawmakers and signed into law to become effective, would provide for a full schedule of racing at the state’s five tracks in 2014, thereby avoiding the threatened doomsday scenario of draconian cuts to live racing opportunities… Good luck to TTA members Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch, who have two strong competitors running this weekend at Delta Downs. Bahnah, their dead-heat winner of the Grade 3 Schuylerville this past summer at Saratoga will start as one of the top choices in the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess, and two-time stakes winner Donoharm is in the $150,000 Delta Mile…The next Texas Racing Commission meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 10th in Austin…Remember to send in your ballot for the TTA Board of Directors election so that it is received no later than 5pm on December 16…The TTA office will close at noon on Wednesday, November 27th for the Thanksgiving holiday, reopening on Monday, December 2nd…Best wishes for a speedy recovery to attorney Gene Palmer who is in Central Texas Rehab Hospital after a stroke.