News and Notes for November 8, 2019

The Texas Thoroughbred Association, on behalf of the owners and breeders it represents in the state, commends Lone Star Park for a number of significant improvements recently announced at the track in Grand Prairie.

On Nov. 4, Lone Star Park management and the Grand Prairie Sports Facilities and Development Corporation reached an initial agreement to share in the costs of major improvements to the track’s facilities, with a focus on items requested by horsemen. The enhancements will focus on amenities for horsemen on the backside and the safety of racehorses and jockeys.

The impetus for these projects comes from the passage of HB 2463 during the last Texas legislative session that directs up to $25 million annually to the state’s horse racing industry through the diversion of sales taxes on horse feed, tack and other equine-related items and services.

“With the passage of this bill, we are hopeful that Texas can once again be a leader in the horse racing industry,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the TTA. “We are excited about not only raising the bar for purses and incentives for breeding and racing Accredited Texas-breds, but also raising the bar for the health and welfare of our racehorses. These improvements at Lone Star Park will go a long way in accomplishing that goal.”

Among the approved enhancements are:

A cooling down area for horses, located about 100 yards beyond the finish line, with fans, cool water, etc. where horses can be bathed and cooled down just moments after unsaddling;

Video surveillance cameras in all barns;

A new state of the art Duralock moveable turf rail;

Construction of round pens (as space permits) for horses to spend time outdoors;

Replacement of damaged stalls (to be done in phases);

Landscaping, dorm renovations, beautification (to be done in stages).

“The City of Grand Prairie has been an integral part of Lone Star Park’s success from the track’s inception,” noted Scott Wells, president and general manager of Lone Star Park. “Their leadership has enabled us to make much needed renovations on the frontside in areas open to the public, from the suites levels to the ground floor. This move toward improving conditions for horsemen and horses is just another example of our mutual commitment to keeping Lone Star Park a truly world class facility.”

Ron Jensen, the mayor of Grand Prairie, added: “The City of Grand Prairie and Lone Star Park management have a unique and productive partnership. Thanks to the actions of the Texas Legislature this past session, horse racing in Texas is back on an upward trajectory. We want Lone Star Park to lead the way in providing the best and safest facilities for our customers, our horsemen and their horses.”

Lone Star Park’s next Thoroughbred meet, which is expected to feature a boost in purses compared to last year, will commence this spring.

Sam Houston Race Park will kick off its 2020 live racing season on Friday, January 10 with an expanded 39-day Thoroughbred meet continuing through Saturday, March 28.

Several exciting changes are in store for the upcoming live season with a substantial boost in purses thanks to legislative action earlier this year. House Bill 2463 was passed by the 86th Texas Legislature, which will contribute $25 million annually to the Texas horse racing industry, split equally between Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse interests.

Sam Houston Race Park is the first of the Texas racetracks to host a live meet in 2020 and will offer overnight purses of approximately $200,000 per day with several notable purse increases:

· Maiden races will be offered at $36,000 compared to $20,000 last year;
· Claiming race purses will be approximately 80% higher than last year;
· Allowance races will start at $37,000 compared to $21,000 last year

The 2020 Thoroughbred Stakes schedule will offer over $1.75 million in purses, up from $1.1 million in 2019. The Houston Racing Festival will feature two graded stakes on Sunday, January 26: the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) and the John B. Connally Turf (G3). Midnight Bisou, owned by Bloom Racing Stable LLC, Madaket Stables LLC and Allen Racing LLC, won the 2019 edition of the Ladies Classic, the richest Thoroughbred race of the year at Sam Houston Race Park. Currently the top distaffer in North America and a leading Horse of the Year candidate, this talented filly added six more graded stakes wins after her Ladies Classic win.

Additional upgrades to the 2020 Sam Houston Race Park stakes schedule include:

· The $200,000 Texas Turf Mile for 3-year-olds will debut on the Houston Racing Festival undercard;

· Texas Champions Preview Day will take place on Saturday, February 22. Formerly named Texas Stallions Day, two more stakes races have been added for a total of four Texas-breds stakes, including the Texas Stallion Stakes, each with a purse of $75,000;

· Texas Champions Day on Saturday, March 21 will salute Texas-bred runners with one additional stakes race for a total of seven stakes, each for a purse of $75,000.

Frank Hopf, Sam Houston Race Park’s Senior Director of Racing Operations, acknowledges the positive impact the purse increases will have for the upcoming meet.

“To be first out of the gate to begin the process of improving racing in Texas is certainly an opportunity to which we look forward, said Hopf. “Our new purse levels and stakes program have generated interest and enthusiasm about our 2020 live racing season. These are exciting times for the Texas horse racing industry.”

James Leatherman will serve as racing secretary for both the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meets at Sam Houston Race Park in 2020. The Vinton, Louisiana native has served as a racing office official in Ohio, Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico before joining Retama Park in 2005 as the track’s racing secretary. Leatherman was the racing secretary for the 2019 Quarter Horse season at Sam Houston Race Park and will continue to oversee the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meets at Retama Park in addition to his Sam Houston Race Park duties.

The Sam Houston Race Park barn area will open on Tuesday, December 3 with training hours set to commence on Friday, December 6. The first condition book is available at and further information about the season can be accessed at

The Texas Thoroughbred Association Online Stallion Season Auction is now open. Thanks to the generosity of stallion owners across the region, you have the opportunity to purchase 2020 breeding seasons at special prices while at the same time helping the TTA’s Political Action Committee, General Fund, Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund or Paddock Foundation. Bidding closes on November 26 at 5 p.m. Central. To view a list of stallions, or to donate a season to the auction, go here –

Ballots for the TTA Board of Directors election mailed this week to all current TTA members. Five at-large director will be elected to serve 3-year terms (2020 – 2022)  from the following candidates: Keith Asmussen (incumbent), Heidi Bailey, Susan Bedwell, Mike Burleson, Ken Carson (incumbent), Betty Knox, Rick Penn, Tracy Sheffield (incumbent), Bill Tracy (incumbent), and Henry Witt, Jr. (incumbent). December 15 is the deadline for receipt of ballots.

NOTES:  Congrats to TTA Life Member and Director John Adger, who was named TOBA October Member of the Month.  See the story at :… Online voting is now open for the 10th annual winner of the Secretariat Vox Populi Horse of 2019. Created by Secretariat’s late owner Penny Chenery, the Vox Populi, or “Voice of the People,” award recognizes the racehorse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the public and gained recognition for the sport during the past year.  Vote in the online poll at as well as for one of six nominees selected by the Vox Populi Committee. Voters also have the option to write in a racehorse of their choice at Voting will be open through Nov. 20.