News and Notes for September 25, 2015

A recent slew of sample submissions indicative of West Nile virus (WNV) have upped the total number of positive cases in Texas to 19. The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) confirmed the WNV cases via serological test.

As of September 18, 2015, TVMDL can confirm a horse in the following counties tested positive for WNV:  Houston, Atascosa, Jefferson, Roberts, Sterling, Parker, Randall, Liberty, Scurry, Hutchinson, Taylor, Nolan, Trinity, Robertson, Midland, Orange, Harris and Victoria

The affected horses range in age from a yearling to over 10 years old. As with earlier reported positive cases, the majority of the affected horses were not previously vaccinated against WNV.

The main method of WNV transmission is through mosquito bites. The virus abruptly attacks the central nervous system. In the U.S., clinical signs for WNV develop in only 10-39 percent of infected horses. The death rate among U.S. horses ranges from 30 to 40 percent for West Nile disease.  Of horses that recover from the disease, up to 40 percent may exhibit neurological signs for six months or more after the initial diagnosis. Everyone is encouraged to vaccinate their horses.

Sam Houston Race Park will kick off its 23rd live racing season on Friday, January 15. The 2016 live racing schedule has been approved by the Texas Racing Commission and begins with the 32-day Thoroughbred meet.

The 2016 Thoroughbred Stake Schedule will offer nearly $1.8 million in purses, and starts with Texas Champions Weekend, featuring the best Texas-breds competing over two days in seven divisions. Friday, January 22 will feature the fillies and mares in three $50,000 stakes (San Jacinto Turf Stakes, Yellow Rose Stakes and Bara Lass Stakes).  Saturday will feature the boys in four $50,000 stakes races (Star of Texas Stakes, Richard King Turf Stakes, Spirit of Texas Stakes and the Groovy Stakes).

“We made a few changes this year to the stakes schedule, including some of the race distances, in an effort to attract more graded stake winners to some of our premier races,” says Sam Houston Race Park President Andrea Young.

Young confirmed that the Houston Racing Festival will return for its fourth running on Saturday, January 30. The richest day in Texas Thoroughbred racing will feature four stakes, including the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the Grade 3 $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, which will now be run at 1 1/2 miles, the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint and the $50,000 Space City Stakes.  Proceeds from the Houston Racing Festival will once again benefit the Houston affiliate of the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Stakes races will continue every weekend during the remainder of meet with the Sam Houston Sprint Cup, Houston Distaff, and Houston Turf Stakes on  February 13; the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series on February 20 featuring the $75,000 Two Altazano Stakes and the $75,000 Jim’s Orbit Stakes.  The Maxxam Gold Cup Racing Festival will take place February 27 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.

“Our goal for 2015 was to continue to improve the quality of our live racing,” said Young. “We feel our efforts have paid off as several of our past stakes winners have gone on to showcase their talent on the national racing scene.  We look forward to raising the bar even higher in 2016.

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

Friday and Saturday post times for the 2016 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 1 pm post time.

The Texas Horsemen’s Partnership LLC (THP) has set up an account to raise funds for a grassroots initiative to educate the public, legislators and the press on the value of the racing industry to the State and why the horsemen deserve their day in court.  Social media and other outlets will be used to spread this message.

The THP will coordinate with other industry leaders to put the money earned to its best use, with every dollar used in a coordinated, grass roots effort to educate, inform and put forth accurate information where it is needed most.  For more information and to make a contribution, go to:—Grassroots-Initiative

North America’s crop of Thoroughbred foals for 2015 is up 1.9% from the previous year, according to statistics released September 17 by The Jockey Club.

The Jockey Club registry estimates the number of live foals reported so far is approximately 90% complete. The reporting of live foals of 2015 is up from last year at this time when The Jockey Club had received reports for 21,697 live foals of 2014. Eventually the number of foals that are registered for 2015 is expected to be 22,000. Over the past several years, the number of live foals that are eventually registered has been 90%-92%

Additional statistics compiled through September 14 show 2,103 stallions covered 37,244 mares in North America during the 2014 breeding season. The number of stallions declined 5.7% from the 2,230 reported for 2013 at this time last year, while the number of mares bred increased 1.6% from the 36,656 reported for 2013.

The Jockey Club had also received 2,598 “No Foal” reports for the 2015 foaling season.

For more information, see:

NOTES:  Through September 23 at Retama Park, Jockey David Cabrera tops the leader list with 27 wins, leading trainer Danny Pish has 15 wins and owner Jose Luis Espinoza has been to the winner’s circle 6 times…The LOPE Benefit Horse Show is scheduled for October 3 at Scissortail Hill Equestrian in Austin.  See for details.