La Marque track falls victim to Covid-19 economic crisis

Breaking news: Gulf Greyhound Park to shut down after 28 years

Getty images

Gulf Greyhound Park, a gambling staple since 1992 in La Marque, is shutting down effective immediately.

The track will surrender its gaming license and cease to operate. Employees were informed on Tuesday.

The news was confirmed by track announcer John Paul Faour. He worked at the track for 22 years, starting as a waiter when the track opened and later becoming track announcer in 1999 and adding the title of mutuels manager in 2015. He also hosted a popular late-night replay show for several years.

He was predictably disappointed, but focused on the positives.

"It sucks for all of us who work there and all the regulars who came out all the time," he said. "But the place and the people were great for me. I got to do play by play announcing nationwide, I got to host the TV show five nights a week in the Houston market. I learned marketing, promoting and wrote over 100 TV and radio spots. And I did all of that in my hometown of La Marque."

Gulf Greyhound Park opened November 10, 1992 and quickly became one of the premier dog tracks in the country. It featured high-class racing and some of the better greyhounds in the country spent time at the track. Huge crowds and large betting pools were common. But over time, popularity began to wane.

In recent years, live racing gave way to more simulcasting, allowing people to bet on greyhounds and race horses around the country. While they still had the occasional live race meet, it was a far cry from the glory days of racing nearly year round in the 1990s. Gulf had tried along with other racetracks to get additional gaming approved to boost revenue, but the state refused their overtures. Every neighboring state's racetracks are supplemented by other forms of gaming, making competing difficult, but the Legislature never budged.

The track survived damage from Hurricane Ike in 2008, but was never really the same and the economic damage of the Covid-19 shutdown was too much to overcome. Gulf recently reopened along with the rest of the state this month and had a good crowd for Belmont Stakes Day two weeks ago. But the recent spike and potential second shutdown proved fatal.

The closing leaves Sam Houston Race Park as the last legal gambling facility in the Houston area outside of private poker clubs.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome