Get in the Game

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

Horse racing
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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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

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Shifting from the health questions of the starters to the performance questions of the bullpen, some Houston fans have voiced concern via social media that Astros big-ticket 9th inning pitcher Josh Hader is not looking like a "shut-down" closer. Hader gave up more home runs in the first week of July (3) as he did the entire month of June (2).

In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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