News and Notes for October 16, 2015

Saturday marks the close of the Thoroughbred meet at Retama Park with 11 races carded for the evening, and a 6:45 p.m. post time.

The TTA’s Paddock Foundation hosted the Roses to Ribbons Old Fashioned Horse Fair at Retama Park on October 10 to help find new homes for retired racehorses.  Thirty-three horses were presented, with about half finding new homes.

Many thanks to Retama Park staff, Tracy Sheffield, Joan Tracy, and Hal & Renee Wiggins for your help in making the event successful.  Check out photos from the event at

At its meeting on Tuesday, October 13, the Texas Racing Commission (TxRC) approved 2016 race dates for Texas racetracks.

Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie was granted a 50-day Thoroughbred meet running from April 7 – July 17, 2016. It was also granted a 26-day Quarter Horse meet from September 16 – November 12, 2016.

Sam Houston Race Park was granted a 32-day Thoroughbred meet which will run from January 15 – March 8, 2016. Sam Houston’s 26-day Quarter Horse meet will run from March 25 – May 16, 2016.

Retama Park was granted a 26-day Thoroughbred meet running from September 2 – November 26, 2016. The track’s 20-day Quarter Horse meet will take place from June 10 – August 13, 2016.

The Gillespie County Fairgrounds Association was granted its traditional eight-day mixed breed meet for the following dates: July 2-3, July 16-17, August 13-14, and August 27-28, 2016.

The Commission also approved a new Triple Trifecta wager in which the bettor must select the top three finishers in three consecutive races.

The next meeting will be in December, on a date to be announced.

At its October 13 meeting in Atlanta, GA, the board of directors of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) took several actions that will improve the health and safety of horses, and also received important updates on a variety of reform initiatives currently in process nationwide.

One major action by the Board was approval of recommendations from the RMTC’s scientific advisory committee to add four new medications to the current list of 26 Controlled Therapeutic Substances (CTS). The RMTC voted to add these four medications at the urging of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). The medications are: Ranitidine and Cemetidine, both anti-ulcer medications, Cetirizine, an antihistamine, and Guaifenesin, an expectorant.

The RMTC will now present these four medications to the Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) and advocate for their inclusion in the RCI model rules.

Additionally, RMTC Executive Director Dr. Dionne Benson updated the Board on significant progress toward full adoption of the National Uniform Medication Program (Program). According to Dr. Benson, 17 states have adopted both the CTS and Third-Party Administration of Furosemide policies, while 12 states have adopted the Multiple Medication Violations Penalty System, and 27 states are now receiving testing services from RMTC-accredited laboratories. Noteworthy additions to the list of racing jurisdictions now actively pursuing the Program are Florida, Louisiana and Illinois.

In other business, the RMTC Board granted Interim Accreditation status to the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) at Texas A&M University, which provides testing for the Texas Racing Commission. To achieve this status – the seventh laboratory to do so – TVMDL was required to submit an extensive application, pass a rigorous site inspection and successfully complete one round of the External Quality Assurance Program.

The Texas A&M Equine Complex opened its doors more than a year ago, but the donors who made the $32 million Thomas G. Hildebrand, DVM ’56 Equine center a reality finally gathered under one roof last weekend to be honored.

The complex played host to a star-studded crowd Monday night that featured one of the world’s greatest horse trainers in D. Wayne Lukas, one of Texas’ most celebrated horse breeders in Charles W. Graham and Texas A&M administrators.

Lukas, who trained four horses that won a Kentucky Derby, raved about the center and said he wishes he could be 18 years old again and in position to pick Texas A&M as his school. The 80-year-old University of Wisconsin graduate donated works of art and photos of his horses to the D. Wayne Lukas Gallery of Racing at the center and said the other donors should hold their heads high knowing what they built.

The 20 families, individuals and foundations that funded the project through their donations received a plaque and a gift for their contributions. The university gave Graham, who donated money to the project, an extra tip of the cowboy hat and surprised him by announcing that the road leading up to the center will be named after him.

Construction began on the complex in November 2012, wrapped up in May 2014, and will be the home to equine teaching and research, equine-based athletic programs, Parson’s Mounted Cavalry and the A&M cross country team.

Two more phases of construction are yet to come. The first will include stallion and mare research facilities at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the second will include a nutrition and exercise physiology center, a reproduction teaching center and facilities for the A&M polo team.

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller reports that TAMU was awarded a $50,000 partnership grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture to help conduct a comprehensive economic impact study of the Texas equine industry.

Miller said, “Texas leads the nation and the world in the production of all types horses and we must fight to maintain that important distinction.”

The total number of Texas horses testing positive for West Nile virus (WNV) has rocketed to 26. The cases are spread across the state, with a lack of vaccination as the prevailing trend in the affected horses. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) confirmed the WNV cases via serological test.

As of October 13, 2015, TVMDL can confirm horses in the following counties tested positive for WNV: Atascosa, Cooke, Chambers, Erath, Harris (3 cases), Houston, Hutchinson, Jefferson (3 cases), Liberty, Midland, Nolan, Orange, Parker, Randall, Roberts, Robertson (2 cases), Scurry, Sterling, Taylor, Trinity, and Victoria.

Symptoms for other neurologic diseases can present similarly; diagnostic testing is the only method to definitively determine infection. In order to have a complete diagnostic picture, TVMDL also recommends veterinarians request additional tests including: Equine Herpesvirus-1, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis.

“This is an unusually high number of WNV positive cases for this year,” said Bruce L. Akey, DVM, MS, TVMDL director. “Additionally, at least seven Texas horses have tested positive for another mosquito-borne disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The state had a rare rainy season at the onset of summer, allowing the mosquito population to swell, and the increase in neurologic diseases borne through mosquito bites is a direct result. There are effective vaccines available to prevent both WNV and EEE.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Animal Health Commission have information related to WNV and mosquito control available for free download.

For more information on TVMDL’s equine neurologic testing, visit, or contact the agency headquarters at 1.888.646.5623.

As reported in Blood-Horse, United States Representative Andy Barr of Kentucky has reintroduced two bills that would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to benefit racehorse owners.

Barr’s office said the two bills are designed to make the tax changes permanent. Over the years they have been extended as part of other pieces of tax legislation.

The Race Horse Cost Recovery Act of 2015 would amend the code to allow for a permanent three-year depreciation period for all racehorses rather than the seven years listed in the tax code. The provision for three years is set to expire at the end of this year.

The Equine Tax Parity Act would reduce the “holding period” that determines the time for which horses can be eligible for capital gains treatment to 12 months rather than the 24 months listed in the code. Barr’s office said the code “discourages investment in the equine industry and discriminates against equine assets compared to other assets.”

Both bills were referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

NOTES: Our sympathies go out to the family of Shawn Hurwitz of Houston, who died in a boating accident last weekend.  In lieu of the customary remembrances, memorial donations can be made to The Shawn Hurwitz Longhorn Scholarship for KIPPsters, 10711 Kipp Way Houston, Texas 77099…In case you missed it, there is a great article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Kay Helzer: