August 23, 2023 – Texas-breds are receiving a raise during the 2024 Thoroughbred race meets at Class 1 tracks in Texas. The Texas Thoroughbred Association, Texas Horsemen’s Partnership, Sam Houston Race Park and Lone Star Park came together to collectively approve the new purse structure alteration.
For 2024, Texas-bred maiden special weight and allowance races will carry a minimum purse of $40,000 at Sam Houston and Lone Star Park. This is being accomplished by reconfiguring the allocation of funds provided by the TTA to the tracks from Texas Horse Industry Escrow Account (HIEA). The minimum purse of $40,000 for these races is a $7,000 increase per race – a 21% increase over 2023 levels for the same race conditions.
“It is gratifying to see what can be accomplished when the Thoroughbred industry and the racetracks work together. Supporting Texas horse owners and breeders and promoting the value of Texas-bred horses is our number one priority,” commented Tracy Sheffield, President of the Texas Thoroughbred Association.
HB 2463 was passed in the 2019 legislative session. Derived from a portion of state sales taxes on equine goods and services, it provides up to $25-million per year to stimulate the Texas Equine Industry, with 70% ($17.5 million) earmarked for purse funds and the remaining 30% ($7.5 million) available to the official state breed registries (TTA, TQHA, TABA, TPHA) for TRC approved events and programs. Funds became available in 2020.
“The purse restructuring shows dedication to Texas-breds on the racetrack and it has a positive impact on a large number of Texas horsemen,” said Bryan Pettigrew, Vice President and General Manager of Sam Houston Race Park. “The owners and trainers I have spoken with are praising the change. It’s putting more money on the table for Texas-breds.”
Finalizing the purse transition comes at an opportune time. The Texas Thoroughbred Association’s annual Summer Yearling Sale is August 28. According to TTA, the sale will be one of the largest in history and there’s a tremendous level of excitement and anticipation for Monday’s sale. Of the 271 catalogued sale entries, almost 100 are Texas-breds, proving they are in high demand, thanks in part to the numerous Texas breeders’ incentives now in place and proven by their success on the racetrack.
One of the largest consignors at the sale is Highlander Training Center whose catalogue includes 22 Texas-breds in Monday’s yearling sale.
“Increasing purse money for Texas-breds and raising the level of maiden special weight purses will absolutely have a positive impact on the yearling sale,” noted Jeff Hooper, Chairman & CEO at Highlander Training Center. “Purses drive the business, and this very positive news will create increased enthusiasm and interest among owners and trainers looking for quality Texas-bred racing prospects.”
Since the passage of House Bill 2463, the racing program has been expanded in the State. First of all, the Texas Thoroughbred Association Futurity at Lone Star Park was revamped with a $150,000 purse for each division. The $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Derby and Oaks were both added to the Sam Houston Race Park calendar to further support the industry. Numerous top stallions have moved into the state which has strengthened the Texas Stallion Stakes, a six race series for the offspring of participating Texas stallions. The increase in Texas-bred maiden special weight and allowance race purses is the latest development. The overall 2024 HIEA plan is pending Texas Racing Commission approval.