La Marque track falls victim to Covid-19 economic crisis

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

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

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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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