Keep Texas Running Gala, Horsemen's Day at the Capitol Rousing Successes

The Keep Texas Running Horsemen's Gala on Tuesday, April 26 and the Horsemen's Day at the Capitol the following morning were rousing successes. Over 200 horsemen and women, as well as greyhound owners and breeders, attended the gala at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Austin, Texas, and a similar number of horsemen and women and greyhound owners and breeders made a strong impression by participating in Horsemen's Day at the Capitol the next morning.

Attendees of the Keep Texas Running Horsemen's Gala enjoyed a mexican buffet dinner, as well as live entertainment in the form of a strong singing performance from Casey Graham (daughter of former THP Director David Graham and his wife, Gayle, and granddaughter of Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Member Dr. Charles Graham), comical skits, and a live auction. A silent auction was also conducted, with both benefitting Keep Texas Running, otherwise known as the Texas racing industry's efforts to have video lottery terminals (VLTs) legalized by the Texas leglislature.

House Bill 9 (which includes legalizing VLTs at the Texas racetracks) sponsor, Representative Ismael "Kino" Flores (D-Mission), attended the function, as did Representative Edmund Kuempel (R-Seguin). Flores addressed a very appreciative crowd, stressing his belief that Texans should have the right to choose whether or not they want VLTs at the polls.

Representative Kuempel surprised the crowd by walking to the stage during the live auction and taking auctioneer duties from Keep Texas Running Grass Roots Coordinator Patti Colbert. Rep. Kuempel did a fantastic job and thoroughly entertained the crowd with his humor and auctioneering skills. Among the items auctioned off were a mini-motorcycle, an eight-week old yellow labrador puppy, and a pair of miniature donkeys.

The evening proved both entertaining and a great fundraiser for Keep Texas Running.

On Wednesday morning, April 27, we had approximately 200 horsemen and women and greyhound owners and breeders come to the Capitol and walk the halls visiting with the legislators encouraging support of our VLT legislation and reminding them of the importance of the racing industry to the state's agricultural economy. Our lobbyist, Reggie Bashur, made the comment that he was impressed with the large number of horsemen and greyhound owners and breeders that were visibly walking the halls in support of our legislation.

It is extremely important that Texas racing industry participants and fans continue to contact their legislators every week during this legislative session encouraging their support of VLT legislation. Horsemen's Day at the Capitol was a very important and visible way to do this, but all of your letters, faxes, e-mails, and phone calls are equally important.

The THP and Keep Texas Running would like to offer their sincere thanks to all the many Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, and Arabian horsemen and the leadership and members of the Texas Greyhound Association that participated in the Keep Texas Running Gala and Horsemen's Day at the Capitol.

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