News and Notes for September 16, 2016

After winning the $100,000 Gold Rush Futurity by an incredible 13 lengths on August 14, J. R. Caldwell will saddle multiple stakes winner Bling On the Music (Too Much Bling – Soft Music) for the Gr. 2 $200,000 Pocahontas Stakes on Saturday at Churchill Downs.  Bred by W. S. Farish, the filly was a $95,000 purchase by Keene Thoroughbreds LLC out of this year’s Texas 2-Year-Old Sale.  She has been given odds of 3/1. The Pocahontas is also a Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” race awarding the winner an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on November 5 at Santa Anita Park.

As reported in Blood-Horse, just as a good horse can come from anywhere, so too can good horsepeople. That was readily apparent September 10 at the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s 31st annual national awards dinner where breeders and owners of all shapes and sizes mingled under a tent at Stonestreet Farm near Lexington.

Honored were some of racing’s titans and some of racing’s smaller breeders, including Texas Breeder of the Year, Eileen Hartis. The state breeders were honored earlier in the afternoon at a luncheon at Dudley’s downtown.

“I have always been a tiny, tiny breeder,” Hartis said. Her “spread” is limited to 40 acres because “it’s about all I can take care of. I feed ’em in the morning. I clean their stalls. I put them out at night. I brush and groom them. I do everything,” she said. She has one colt to sell at the upcoming Keeneland September yearling sale, adding, “I hand walk him myself. My walker is me.”

Hartis has been named Texas Breeder of the Year three times, starting with multiple graded stakes winner (15-7-1-4, $960,946) Got Koko in 2003, graded stakes winner (21-4-4-3, $441,736) Princess Haya in 2009 and most recently with graded stakes placed (22-13-3-1; $560,808) Ivan Fallunovalot.  Congratulations!

Sam Houston Race Park will kick off its 24th live racing season on Friday, January 20th with a 32-day Thoroughbred meet.

The 2017 Thoroughbred Stake Schedule will offer nearly $2 million in purses, and begins with the trademark Texas Champions Weekend, featuring the best Texas-breds competing over two days in seven divisions. Friday, January 20 will feature the fillies and mares in three $50,000 stakes: the San Jacinto Turf Stakes, the Yellow Rose Stakes and the Bara Lass Stakes. Saturday will feature the boys in four$50,000 stakes races: the Star of Texas Stakes, the Richard King Turf Stakes, the Spirit of Texas Stakes and the Groovy Stakes. 

“We continue to build upon The Park’s tradition of bringing premier level Thoroughbred racing talent to Texas. Our stakes schedule saw a record 22% growth in handle in 2016 and we want to capitalize on that momentum in 2017 with some modifications to our biggest weekend of the year, the Houston Racing Festival,” said Sam Houston Race Park President Andrea B. Young.

The Houston Racing Festival will again be anchored by the Grade 3 $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic. New in 2017 will be an added $50,000 to the Grade 3 John B. Connally Turf Cup, bringing it up to $250,000. Rounding out the richest day in Texas Thoroughbred racing will be the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint, the $50,000 Space City Stakes, and a new fifth stakes race – the $50,000 Houston Distaff, which had historically been run later in the meet.

Stakes races will continue most weekends during the remainder of the meet with the Sam Houston Sprint Cup and Houston Turf Stakes on February 11; the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallions Stakes Series on February 18 featuring the $65,000 Two Altazano Stakes and the $65,000 Jim’s Orbit Stakes. The MAXXAM Gold Cup Racing Festival will take place February 25 and will feature the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup, the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Turf Stakes, the $50,000 Bucharest Turf Sprint, and the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes.

“We continue to receive high marks from both horsemen and horseplayers for our Thoroughbred meet,” says Young. “Trainers praise the safety of our main track surface and regard the Connally Turf course as one of the best in the country. And, our fans enjoy our full fields and low take-out rates.”

Friday and Saturday post times for the 2017 Thoroughbred Meet will be 7 pm and 6 pm, respectively. The fun tradition of lunch-time racing at The Park will continue every Monday and Tuesday afternoon with a new 12 pm post time. The 2017 Houston Racing Festival will race on the only Sunday of the meet on January 29 and will have a 12 pm post time.

The TTA Nominating Committee is accepting names of eligible TTA members as candidates to run for 3-year terms on the TTA Board of Directors.  Five at-large directors will be elected statewide as well as regional directors to represent the North Central and West Regions of Texas. You may submit nominees to the TTA Executive Director or any member of the Nominating Committee: Tom Bradfield,; Danny Keene,; Wes Melcher,; Jerry Moore,; Brent Savage,; David Stephens,; and Fred Taylor,

Accredited Texas-bred incentive awards in connection with Thoroughbred racing at Gillespie County Fair Grounds this summer have been calculated and will be mailing next week.  The awards are based on the following percentages of purse money earned for placing first, second or third:

Breeder Awards: 6.26465%; Owner Awards: 7.98619%; Stallion Awards: 3.53883%.  In addition to the regular owner awards, an Owner Bonus of 7.85307% will be paid on purse money earned for finishing first, second or third in open company races.

NOTES: The deadline for final payment on stallions nominated to the Texas Stallion Stakes Program for the 2016 breeding season is October 1st. Texas Accredited Stallions not previously nominated for 2016 may be late nominated by October 1st by payment of the 2016 advertised stud fee or $1,500, whichever is greater, plus a $500 penalty…After winning the Grade 3, $400,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, Texas Chrome is headed to the Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby on September 25.