Get in the Game

Ever thought about owning and racing your own Texas Thoroughbred? Now's the time.

Conditions have never been better. Photo courtesy of Texas Thoroughbred Association

If you are a fan of Thoroughbred horse racing at Houston’s Sam Houston Race Park, no doubt you’re excited about the new season of live racing that opens on January 6.

But here’s something you may or may not have ever considered: owning and racing a Texas-bred Thoroughbred.

If you’ve ever pondered the potential or fantasized about the possibilities of getting involved with Texas horse racing, the conditions haven't been this inviting or favorable in many years.

For the first time in nearly two decades, Texas horse racing is moving in a positive direction, and everything indicates a continuation of that progress. Last year, even as the nation grappled with the harsh and sometimes deadly consequences of the COVID pandemic, Texas horse racing showed signs of resilience.

Even as racetracks limited their dates and crowds, the comeback began. Texas racetracks paid $31,052,099 in purses in 2020, according to the annual report by the state racing commission.

For the 89 days of Thoroughbred racing in the state, purses averaged $195,967, which represents a 42-percent increase from 2019, when Thoroughbred purses averaged a mere $137,681. But this was only the beginning.

The purse increase was largely due to House Bill 2463. Passed in 2019, it amended the tax code to require the deposit of state taxes collected on the sale of feed, supplements, and tack into a Horse Industry Escrow Account, capped at $50 million for the biennium. This supplementary source of funds added $17.5 million to purses in 2020, and the purses are still growing.

In 2021, Sam Houston Race Park enjoyed what was arguably the best season in its history. For its 43-day Thoroughbred meeting that concluded on April 3, the Houston racetrack paid $12.6 million in purses, or a record $293,000 a day.

The high purses attracted Letruska, who won the Houston Ladies Classic on her way to what will almost certainly be an Eclipse Award as the nation’s top older female. And all-sources handle increased more than 28 percent, to $2,242,807 a day.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at and inside information on owning and racing a Texas-bred Thoroughbred on January 6, opening night at Sam Houston Race Park.

Join Houston radio personality and horse racing handicapper Fred Faour and former Houston Oiler/Dallas Cowboy NFL star — and now racehorse owner — Mike Renfro for a special owner-preview event. Meet trainers and racehorse owners for valuable information about “getting in the game.”

Space is limited, so RSVP at www.TxRaceHorse.com.

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ROCKETS FALL TO WARRIORS

Critical takeaways from Rockets' 105-103 loss to Warriors

Rockets fall short against Warriors. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

This wasn't the typical Houston Rockets-Golden St. Warriors game when Mike D' Antoni and Steve Kerr were having an offensive battle of wits. James Harden, who plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was nowhere in sight for the Rockets Friday night. Although the Rockets are in rebuild mode, it was still an interesting game. The intensity was high throughout the entire game. Emotions between Stephen Silas and Kerr were heavy, as they were yelling and jumping up-and-down along the sidelines.

A series of runs and back-and-forth scoring gave a slight reminder of the old rivalry between the Warriors and Rockets. Steph Curry was having a tough game, but with 5.1 seconds left, he was able to create great separation from a step back and drained an incredible midrange shot over Kevin Porter Jr. It was heartbreaking because Porter played great defense on Curry throughout the entire game, with Curry only making 6 out of 22 shots. Porter had a tremendous first-half defensively on Curry and recorded an 88.9 defensive rating. Porter had a good feel for guarding Curry, he didn't allow himself to switch away from him. He anticipated passing lanes and ripped Curry a couple of times.

Besides Porter playing great defense, the Rockets played good as a whole. They finished with 10 steals. Their main technique was to switch everything on defense, and Kenyon Martin Jr. and Christian Wood did a good job. It's never easy staying in front of Curry and Jordan Poole, but if they could hold their ground for five seconds, it became possible. Porter did a great job at times by communicating on defense, so he could tell Jalen Green and Eric Gordon when to switch.

And speaking of Green--- he had a strange night offensively. He went 0-11 from the field but made two great plays in the fourth quarter. Instead of Silas keeping Green on the bench because of his cold hand, he kept him in the game for learning purposes. Green made an outstanding play on Curry at the 2:52 mark in the 4th quarter. Before that, he missed a shot from three but fought hard for the rebound, then found a cutting Wood towards the rim. Green might of struggled, but the effort was there.

This was a tough loss for the Rockets, but they are steadily improving. The Rockets are 3-5 in their last five games.

Up next: The Rockets face the Spurs on Tuesday night.

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