Sam Houston Race Park Concludes 2010 Quarter Horse Meet: Houston Race Track Continues To Experience Declines Due To Out of State Competition

(Houston, Texas - August 17, 2010) - Sam Houston Race Park concluded the 2010 American Quarter Horse Meet, which featured 44 days of live Quarter Horse racing offering fans 450 carded races with a total of $3,798,149 in purse distribution across the Spring/Summer season, on Saturday, August 14, 2010. For the second consecutive year, The Park’s meet included Retama Park’s (San Antonio) Quarter Horse dates.

The Park hosted nearly 30 stakes racing events this season, including the $400,000 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG1), the $346,700 Sam Houston Futurity (G1), the $113,502 TQHA Sires’ Cup Futurity (RG2), the $113,250 Sam Houston Derby (G2), the $106,290 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G1), the $54,727 TQHA Sires’ Cup Derby (RG3), the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2), and the $48,300 Sam Houston Maiden Classic.

Sam Houston Race Park continued to witness significant declines in daily handle averages on its live product as compared to the prior year. Average live handle per live race day decreased by 11.6%, and average all-sources handle dipped 9.6%.

“The decrease in handle we experienced this summer is not simply a result of an uncertain economy on the consumer and inclement weather, but also the result of the significant competitive disadvantage Texas tracks face when compared to our neighboring states with whom we compete,” said Andrea Young, President and Chief Operating Officer, Sam Houston Race Park.

The Park, which was granted 45 days of live racing by the Texas Racing Commission, lost one live race date due to inclement weather but was able to make up those races by increasing the number of races per day across the remainder of the season. Weather proved to be a major issue throughout The Park’s summer meet. On race days alone, The Park experienced more than 12 inches of rain in 2010, compared to less than three inches the previous year. The average field size for the meet had 8.62 horses featured on the live racing card with an average of 8.16 starters per race. This decreased from the 2009 average of 8.35 starters per race.

New Events and Promotions at Sam Houston Race Park

“On a positive note, we were pleased to be able to attract more than 100,000 fans during our recently concluded meet. We know that the decreases in wagering levels were largely offset by our continued commitment to actively promote The Park with special promotions and variable pricing. However, we know that these items alone will not be able to grow our business in the long-term,” stated Young.

The Park implemented several new promotions for the 2010 Quarter Horse Meet in an effort to boost attendance and attract the casual sports fan to the racing product. Among these promotions was the popular 50 Cent Beer Night, which featured 50 cent draft beer on the first Friday of each month. The promotion was such a success in boosting attendance that it will continue every Friday during simulcast operations through the end of September.

In addition to 50 Cent Beer Night, The Park held its third annual Verizon Wireless Concert Series on the Bud Light stage, hosting such acts as Blue October, Foghat and Blue Oyster Cult, Luke Bryan and Kevin Fowler every Saturday night following live racing. The Park also hosted Party on the Patio, featuring hot food the outdoor grill, track-side patio seating, and $2 draft beer specials from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. every Saturday. Bundled with general admission to live racing events, the Party on the Patio ticket package was a fun and affordable way to spend a night at the races.

Also new to this year’s Quarter Horse meet was the Father’s Day Celebration, featuring the Father’s Day Lawn Mower Races, which drew more than 8,000 fans.

The Park also saw continued success in hosting live racing events around larger simulcast dates including: the 136th Running of the Kentucky Derby (May 1); the 135th Running of the Preakness Stakes (May 15); and the 142nd Running of the Belmont Stakes (June 5).

In addition to these dates, The Park had strong attendance numbers for the annual July 4th Extravaganza weekend, which was extended across two days and drew more than 50,000 patrons.

2010 Sam Houston Race Park End of Meet Awards

Claiming his third title as Sam Houston Race Park’s 2010 Trainer of the Meet was Judd S. Kearl, with 53 wins in 179 starts and purse money totaling in $336,889. Kearl, who owns and operates Ashwood Farms, has notched five career training titles overall in Texas, from Manor Downs in Austin to Lone Star Park in Dallas. Kearl noted one of his top accomplishments for the Sam Houston meet included Comin Thru, a regular stakes winner ranked in the top ten for the 2010 American Quarter Horse Meet at Sam Houston Race Park. Comin Thru has 6 wins in 18 starts and purse money totaling in $67,142.

J.B. and Sherrie Morace were named the 2010 Owners of the Meet. Mr. and Mrs. Morace celebrate their first owner title at The Park. J.B., who resides in Hockley, Texas, says he has "raced in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Louisiana, but loves racing at Sam Houston Race Park because it’s their home track.” J.B and Sherrie Morace, seasoned veterans at Sam Houston Race Park, finished the 2010 American Quarter Horse Meet with 23 wins out of 82 starts and total purse money of $101,878.

In true racing fashion, the race for the 2010 Leading Jockey title came down to the wire, with seasoned rider Rodrigo Sigala Vallejo taking home top honors. Vallejo, who earned 47 wins in 178 mounts this season and an impressive $417,231 in purse money, proudly accepted his award in he winner’s circle following the final race of the night on Saturday, August 14th. Vallejo is best known at Sam Houston for being the only jockey in the history of The Park to win the Grade 1 Sam Houston Futurity a stunning three times.

“We are proud to recognize the hard work and dedication that our 2010 leading trainer, owners, and jockey display. These people represent the backbone of our business, and we appreciate their continued efforts to keep Texas racing going. It is no secret that Texas racing continues to lose quality horses and trainers to our neighboring states where racetracks use slot machine revenues to generate larger purses, thus greatly impacting our ability to compete,” stated Young. “At a time where every dollar counts, we will continue to work to level the playing field so that Texas horse racing can become a leader for the sport.”

2010 American Quarter Horse Meet Statistics

Total Attendance: 101,699
Total Live Handle: $3,653,505
Total Off-Track Handle: $7,107,298
Total Handle: $10,760,803
Number of Live Race Days: 44
Average Daily Purses (Earned Purses Only): $56,500
Average Daily Purses (All In): $86,322
Average Field Size (Carded): 8.62

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