La Marque track falls victim to Covid-19 economic crisis

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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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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