Sam Houston Race Park Grand Re-Opening Celebration Features Live Racing, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts with The Smithereens, Kentucky Derby Events & More May 1-3

After many months of remodeling and construction, Sam Houston Race Park will usher in the return of live racing and live music with an exciting Grand Re-Opening Weekend Celebration Friday, May 1 through Sunday, May 3, 2009.

The Park, which was forced to cancel the final weekend of the 2008 American Quarter Horse meet as well as the entire 2008/2009 Thoroughbred meet due to damages sustained by the facility as a result of Hurricane Ike, will debut a variety of new and improved promotions for the summer meet including Guys Night Out, Value Days, featuring afternoon live racing events and the Verizon Wireless concert series.

In addition, the 2009 American Quarter Horse meet marks the 15th Anniversary of The Park, which opened its doors on April 29, 1994, making Sam Houston Race Park the oldest horse racing establishment in Texas.

“We have been looking forward to bringing live racing and entertainment events back to Houston for many months,” said Andrea Young, President and Chief Operating Officer, Sam Houston Race Park. “We are excited to celebrate 15 years of racing heritage in Texas and are introducing several new events and promotions to The Park, including our Value Days every Saturday which includes a new afternoon post time of 1 p.m., a Mother’s Day ‘Diamond Dig’ event, wiener dog races, and large giveaways featuring vacations and other upscale prizes all summer long. We are going to re-open with a bang!”

The weekend will kick off with an evening of live racing and fireworks on Friday, May 1, with the first 3,000 patrons through the gates receiving a Coca-Cola magnetic racing schedule for the season. In addition, The Park will offer advance wagering for the Kentucky Derby.

On Saturday, May 2, The Park will debut “Value Days,” which will continue every Saturday throughout the summer. Highlighted by a new 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon post time, extended race cards and concert events immediately following racing, Value Days will provide fans the opportunity to kick back with friends and family on the Pavilion Trackside Patio all summer long for as little as $15. Value Days will also include a variety of free giveaways, carnival rides, a misting area for Houston’s warmer months, interactive vendor booths and a variety of hot food off the grill, beers of the world, frozen margaritas and more!

“In this tough economic environment, Houstonians are focused on getting more value for their dollar when looking for fun things to do with friends and family,” said Young. “We have created special value packages available every Saturday from May through August, that include tickets to live racing and our concert series along with food and drinks, which may be the best value for your entertainment dollar in the city!”

The Park will also celebrate the 135th Running of the Kentucky Derby which will feature exciting simulcast action from Churchill Downs in conjunction with The Park’s live racing events, marking the first time in years that The Park has had live racing during the Triple Crown simulcast events. The day will also feature upscale dining in the Winner’s Circle Restaurant, Houston’s largest restaurant, along with signature Mint Juleps and the annual Kentucky Derby Hat Contest where contestants compete for a $500 cash prize!

The party will continue immediately following live racing events with the first performance in The Park’s Verizon Wireless concert series at The Showgrounds featuring a performance from legendary 80s rocker Joan Jett & The Blackhearts with special guests The Smithereens and local band The Crisis.

As part of Value Saturdays, The Park has created several new packages for fans that bundle live racing and concert elements at one of the most affordable entertainment price points of the summer. At just $17.50 per person, the Value Day Fun 4-Pack includes 4 racing and concert tickets, 2 live racing programs, 4 hot dogs and 4 sodas for a total savings of almost $40. For fans that are not interested in the concert, a similar package is available for just $19 or less than $5 per person.

Stand-alone concert tickets for Joan Jett and other Saturday shows are $15 with children 12 and under FREE; concert patrons are admitted to The Park for live racing events the day of the show for FREE. All concerts are general admission and include a limited number of VIP options. General admission to The Park starts at $4; $2 for senior citizens and children 12 and under get in FREE everyday of the summer. Season tickets are also available.

“We have created a casual, festive atmosphere along with a great value proposition for Houstonians. The Park is one of the best and most affordable places to spend the afternoon every weekend,” Young stated.

As part of the promotional calendar for the summer meet, The Park will feature: a National Anthem Singing Contest in April; Mother’s Day Diamond Dig and Brunch (May 12); Preakness Triple Crown Simulcast Event (May 16); 15 yr Anniversary Celebration Prize Giveaways (May 31, June 25, July 30 & Aug 20); Belmont Triple Crown Simulcast Event (June 6); Weiner Dog Races (June 13); Wine Tasting (June 25); Dollar Days (May 25 & July 2); July 4th Celebration; and an Epicurean Night (Aug 21).

The Showgrounds 2009 concert season will include performances from: Fall Out Boy & 50 Cent (April 18); Joan Jett & The Blackhearts with special guests The Smithereens (May 2); Ghostland Observatory (May 9); Jason Aldean (May 16); The Point Birthday Bash featuring Flock of Seagulls, When in Rome, Dramarama & Gene Loves Jezebel (May 23); and Kevin Fowler (May 30).

The Showgrounds will also host festivals including: The New 93Q’s “A Day in the Country” festival (April 25); Cinco de Mayo (May 3); Family Funday in The Park; Fiestas Patrias; and Ziegenfest. Additional performers and dates for the 2009 concert season will be announced soon. For more information, visit

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