Falcon Points

Sam Houston Race Park is primed for one of its best years yet when live racing returns on Friday

Horses leave the gate at Sam Houston Race Park
Courtesy photo

Live racing will return to Sam Houston Race Park this Friday night, and the 26th season of racing could be one of the best yet. The thoroughbred meet kicks off with a 10-race card filled with more purse money, solid sized fields and better quality racing than we have seen in past years.

Thanks to the state Legislature actually helping the industry by earmarking $25 million annually for purse money throughout the state this year, 2020 has a chance to be the best quality of racing since the track's dynamic opening season in 1994.

Trying to compete

Purse money is simply the dollars paid out to the jockeys, owners and trainers. The more money, the better quality of racing. The better racing, the more people will bet. The more people bet, the more money goes into purses. It's the circle of horse racing life.

Sam Houston and the other Texas tracks have had trouble competing for horses with neighboring states. Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arkansas are supplement their tracks with additional forms of gaming, mostly casinos, where most of the money is being bet by Texans. So the purse boost will help level the playing field.

Big races

Sam Houston has done a terrific job of staying relevant by going to shorter race meets, and building up purses through simulcasting the rest of the year. The thoroughbred meet will have 39 days and run through March 28. The quarter horses start shortly thereafter and run through May. The higher purses should bring better horses in both breeds, and bring more national attention to the track.

The biggest race day will be a special Sunday card on Jan. 26, with over a million dollars paid out in purse money, headed up by the $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic, which has become an early season national staple for fillies and mares.

That same day, the track will host a qualifier for the NTRA Handicapping Championship. The event will award two spots to the championship in Las Vegas, with an option for 2020 or 2021. It will be a $1,000 live bankroll tournament.

Most weeks races will be held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Post times are noon Wednesday, 6:45 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. In March, the track will add three Tuesday cards as well. When the quarter horses start on April 13, they will run on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays

The most important thing...

Let's face it, as much fun as the races are to watch, gambling on them is what makes the world go round.

Betting on the ponies is one of the most fun ways to gamble. As in the past, the track will provide free tip sheets, and SportsMap will also provide free picks.

Sam Houston's racing surfaces are two of the safest and most fair in the country. Thoroughbred races are held on both dirt and turf, although weather sometimes forces races off the turf course. The track will run rain or shine, unless the weather is deemed dangerous. In the past, when the main track is listed as sloppy, horses on or near the early lead tend to fare very well.

Also, the Blitz will be broadcasting live several times throughout the meet, including opening night.

Fun ways to gamble

If you have never bet on the ponies, there are multiple wagers available in each race. Most are designed to bet a little to win a lot. If you want to learn how to gamble on the horses, the audio book Acing Racing 2016 is the perfect place to start. If you are a poker or sports gambler, the book explains things in ways you will easily understand.

In addition to live racing, Sam Houston has simulcasting from tracks so you can bet places from all over the world. However, there is nothing like live racing. It is a good family night out, and if you go, make sure you watch at least one race from the rail outside to get a feel for the power and majesty of the animals. There will be also some of the regular attractions if you aren't into the racing - .50 beer nights on Fridays, camel and ostrich racing, and more entertainment.

If you have never been, make it a point to check it out at least once this meet. You will be entertained.

Sam Houston Race Park is located at 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West. For more information, check out shrp.com.


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Astros defeat the Mets, 9-6. Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images.

Alex Bregman put Houston ahead with a two-run single in the eighth inning, and the surging Astros rallied from five runs down to beat the New York Mets 9-6 on Saturday.

Jake Meyers homered early and Jeremy Peña began the comeback with a two-run double off Mets starter Tylor Megill in a three-run fourth. After its seven-game win streak was snapped Friday night in the series opener, Houston (41-41) won for the 11th time in 15 games.

New York still led 6-4 in the eighth, but a taxed and injury-tattered bullpen minus suspended closer Edwin Díaz couldn't hold on. Mark Vientos homered for the Mets (40-40), who had won four straight and 16 of 20.

Jake Diekman and Reed Garrett (7-3) combined to walk four Houston hitters in the eighth. Garrett threw a run-scoring wild pitch with two outs, then gave up Bregman's go-ahead single on a full-count pitch.

Mauricio Dubón added a two-run double off Danny Young with two outs in the ninth.

Seth Martinez (3-2) pitched a perfect seventh for the win after starter Framber Valdez, hurt by shoddy defense, permitted six runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Ryan Pressly worked a scoreless eighth and Josh Hader got three quick outs for his 12th save in 13 opportunities.

Pete Alonso's two-run single capped a five-run second, when the Mets took advantage of Valdez's error and two other defensive miscues to open a 5-1 lead.

Vientos lined a 429-foot solo homer to center field in the third. Singing sensation Jose Iglesias had three hits for the Mets — two doubles and an RBI infield single.

New York has homered in 12 straight games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Jake Bloss (shoulder discomfort) is scheduled to throw a bullpen Sunday. If it goes well, he might be a candidate to rejoin the rotation after he's eligible to come off the injured list July 7. Bloss got hurt in his major league debut June 21. ... RHP Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) is feeling better and could play catch this week, manager Joe Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) woke up feeling good and is expected to make his next rehab start at a different affiliate. Garcia threw 12 pitches in a perfect inning during his first rehab outing Friday in the rookie-level Florida Complex League.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Luis Severino (5-2, 3.29 ERA) pitches the series finale Sunday. He is 2-4 with a 4.93 ERA against the Astros and hasn't beaten them since May 2018 with the Yankees. Houston had not announced a starter and could go with a bullpen game.

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