News and Notes for September 3, 2015

This has been quite a week for those involved in the Texas breeding and racing industry.

Here is a timeline recap of the events:

Tuesday, August 25

  • Rules regulating pari-mutuel wagering on historical races remain on the books after a motion to repeal them fails during a meeting of the Texas Racing Commission (TRC).

Monday, August 31

  • End of the fiscal year for the state of Texas.
  • Deadline for the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) to release $1.5 million in TRC funding dedicated to the Commission’s central administration.
  • TRC Executive Director Chuck Trout submits formal written request of 3 months funding in order to “allow the agency to wind down operations in an orderly fashion that would be greatly beneficial to our employees, licensees, the entire pari-mutuel racing industry and the State of Texas as a whole.”
  • House leadership on the LBB signed off a plan to give the Commission the full $1.5 million sought over the next two years for the administrative funding.
  • At the same time, Senate leaders on the LBB presented a temporary alternative – to give the Commission the ability to transfer $186,000 from funds already appropriated to cover these costs for three months.
  • No compromise was reached on the issue,

Tuesday, September 1

  • The funding deadline passes at 12:01 a.m. and the agency was effectively shut down.
  • An official letter was sent from the TRC to all of the Texas tracks, rescinding permission to send or receive simulcast signals and to conduct live racing.
  • Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller weighed in on the stalemate, saying that withholding the Commission’s funding could irreparably damage the state’s already fragile horse industry.
  • An agreement was reached between House and Senate leaders of the LBB whereby the TRC was granted $186,000 in requested funding – not via transfer of funds already received for other purposes – in order to remain open for 90 days.

Wednesday, September 2

  • The Commission sent an email letter to Texas racetrack operators saying it had received authorization from the Legislative Budget Board to issue operating funds for the tracks for the next three months.  “This letter reinstates the authorization for all import simulcast wagering, live racing, and exporting of the live signal effective September 2, 2015,” said the letter signed by Lila Smith, the Commission’s director of pari-mutuel wagering.

While we wait to see what happens next, take a moment to express your thanks to those who have recently stepped up to support the horse industry in Texas:

  • Representative John Otto, 512.463.0570,
  • Representative Drew Darby, 512.463.0331,
  • Representative Sylvester Turner, 512.463.0554,
  • Representative John Zerwas, 512.463.0374,
  • Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, 512.463.1408,
  • Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar, 512.463.4444,

Get ready for 4 days of live Thoroughbred racing and special promotions at Retama Park, beginning on Friday with free t-shirts for the first 1,000 fans to enter the gates.  Saturday is a college football tailgate celebration – wear your team’s jersey to receive reduced admission to the Park.  Post time is 6:45pm on Friday and Saturday, and 3:00pm on Sunday and Monday.  To enjoy fine dining, check out the delicious buffets offered in the Terrace Dining section. Buffet pricing is as follows:

6 – 9pm Friday, $17.95 adults, $10.95 age 12 and under

6 – 9pm Saturday, $22.95 adults, $12.95 age 12 and under

2:30 – 5:30pm Sunday and Monday, $14.95 adults, $10.95 age 12 and under

Come out to support Texas racing!

Make plans to attend the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Gala, set for 5pm on Saturday, September 12 at Retama Park.  Individual tickets are $125 for the event, which includes valet parking, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a prime rib buffet, live and silent auction, Hall of Fame induction ceremony and live racing.

Dave Appleton will serve as Master of Ceremonies, with inductees to include Ken Armbrister, Stanley Beard (deceased), Lukin Gilliland Sr. (deceased), Sammy Jackson (deceased), Dan (deceased) and Jolene Urschel, and the racehorse No Le Hace, with the Jo Ann Weber Distinguished Service Award being presented to Ben Hudson.

Please make reservations by September 7 by contacting Ryan Grammer at 210.651.7045.

The TTA Nominating Committee will be accepting names of eligible TTA members until September 21st for 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 South and Northeast Regions of Texas. You may submit nominees to any member of the Nominating Committee or to the TTA executive director.  Nominating Committee Members are Ken Carson, 940.686.5552,; Ed Few, 409.383.0555,; Danny Keene (Chairman), 903.454.3939,; Brent Savage, 713.805.9685,; Bill Tracy, 830-688-1709,; Alfred Vardeman, 325-728-8055,; and Henry Witt Jr., 254-662-4004,

NOTES: Best of racing luck on Sunday to Accredited Texas-breds Promise Me Silver, who will run in the $300,000 (gr.2) Prioress Stakes at Saratoga and Thegirlinthatsong, who competes in the $200,000 (gr.2) Yellow Ribbon Handicap at Del Mar…The TTA offices will be closed on Friday, September 4 and Monday, September 6, but we will be checking email.  We wish you a safe and happy holiday weekend!