Retama Park Celebrates Tenth Anniversary as it Opens 2004 Thoroughbred Meet on July 23

Retama Park near San Antonio will celebrate its tenth anniversary as it opens its 2004 Thoroughbred meet tonight, Friday, July 23. The meet will run from Friday, July 23 through Saturday, September 25. Racing during the 10-week meet will be conducted on Thursdays through Sundays, with first post time each day of 6:45 p.m.

Among the meet's highlights will be the $100,000-guaranteed Ketel One El Jovan Stakes for 2-year-olds and the $100,000-guaranteed Senorita Stakes for 2-year-old fillies (both races on the grass) on September 4, the $100,000 Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame for Texas-bred 3-year-olds and up on September 18, and two divisions of the $125,000-guaranteed Texas Stallion Stakes on September 18 - one division for 2-year-old males and one for 2-year-old fillies.

Opening night signals excitement is back at the Selma-based track and it is Fifty-Cent Friday, Retama Park’s super popular family focused promotion.

“We can’t wait till Friday gets here,” said Janice Hoffman, a northeast San Antonio resident. “The Triple Crown races with Smarty Jones had everyone excited and we’ve waited since last October to get back to live racing. We are ready for it to happen. Our entire family is coming,” she added.

Retama Park officials elected to open with a Fifty-Cent Night promotion and have been on a mission the last month to hire staff and employees. “We worked day and night to hire and train folks to accommodate the expected crowds this season,” said General Manager Bob Pollock.

“Our Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes days were the biggest in our history and that happened with no live racing going on. We are anticipating a big weekend. Fan interest is definitely there,” said Pollock.

Fifty-Cent Friday has become the mantra of casual racing fans seeking bargain entertainment. Free admission, fifty cents each for hot dogs, sodas and programs and one-dollar draft beer provides families and young adults a great value against the back drop of Retama Park’s beautiful $80-million facility and the thrill of live Thoroughbred racing action. Free children’s activities include pony rides, petting zoo, face painters and clowns.

For players looking to hook their wagering wagons to leading trainers and jockeys, Retama Park has a pair of aces in each division for 2004. It should be a spirited battle for the coveted silver buckles given to leading trainer and leading jockey at the end of the meet.

Danny Pish has carved out a nice career saddling winners at Retama Park and his closet pursuer in 2003, Steve Asmussen is back to battle Pish in 2004.

“We were very fortunate to win leading trainer honors last year, and I know Steve will bring another good stable into town. So we are will have to keep our powder dry” said Pish.

Asmussen is coming off a super season at Lone Star Park, his fifth leading trainer title around the country this year, and has a huge number of horses in his far flung stable.

“Our family training center in Laredo is just down the road, so it makes sense to race at Retama Park. I have not won leading trainer at Retama since 1995 (the track's inaugural season) so I am excited about being here,” said Asmussen. Steve is on track to win 500 races with his nationwide stable in 2004.

Jeremy Beasley was Asmussen's lead rider last year and captured his first jockey's title in San Antonio. To repeat in 2004, Beasley must hold off his friendly rival Roman Chapa. Chapa moved his tack to Louisiana Downs in 2003, but his return to Retama Park for the upcoming campaign signals Chapa is back to ride first call for Danny Pish.

“I had two terrific years before I went to Louisiana, and I plan to have a great meet,” said Chapa. Chapa, the track's leading rider in 2002 and 2000, and Beasley will carve out the lion's share of good horses stabled at Retama Park. So, don't be surprised if the Beasley Chapa exacta combination dominates the results charts each night.

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