Sam Houston Race Park Announces 2014 Race Dates and Thoroughbred Stakes Schedule

(Houston, Texas - Tuesday, September 10, 2013) - Sam Houston Race Park will kick off its 21st racing season on Friday, January 17.The Texas Racing Commission recently granted approval on the 2014 schedule, which begins with Thoroughbreds returning for a 32-day meeting.

The stakes schedule includes 22 Thoroughbred events, offering total purses of nearly $1.7 million. The 2014 Thoroughbred season will begin with Texas Champions Weekend, which will continue in its two-day format for the third consecutive year. Texas-bred Thoroughbreds will take center stage on opening night with three stakes for fillies and mares ($50,000 San Jacinto Stakes; $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes and $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes). On Saturday, January 18, their male counterparts star in four events ($50,000 Star of Texas Stakes; $50,000 Richard King Stakes, $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes and the $50,000 Groovy Stakes). 

Sam Houston Race Park president, Andréa Young confirmed that the Houston Racing Festival will return on Saturday, January 25, 2014. The evening will feature four stakes, including the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic; the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup; $75,000 Champion Energy Stakes; and $50,000 Allen's Landing Stakes. Proceeds from the richest day in Texas racing will once again benefit the Houston Chapter of the Susan G. Komen For the Cure.

Last year's inaugural Houston Ladies Classic was triumphant on many levels. The race attracted a stellar field of fillies and mares with Joyful Victory winning in a track-record setting effort with jockey Rosie Napravnik aboard. Her dominating performance garnered national attention for the 5-year-old daughter of Tapit trained by Larry Jones and owned by Fox Hill Farms, Inc. She became a millionaire with victories in two graded stakes following her Houston Ladies Classic win and is expected to compete in the 2013 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships in November.

Other significant dates include Texas Stallions Weekend on Saturday, February 15 with the $75,000 Two Altazano Stakes; $75,000 Jim's Orbit Stakes and $50,000 Jersey Village Stakes. The Maxxam Gold Cup Racing Festival will take place on Saturday, March 1 and feature the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup; $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes and the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes. Departing, the winner of the 2013 Texas Heritage Stakes, made his mark on the national racing scene, winning the $750,000 Illinois Derby, the $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park and Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs this past weekend. The 3-year-old Departing is owned and bred by Claiborne Farm and >Adele B. Dilschneider and trained by Al Stall, Jr.

The final weekend of the live Thoroughbred racing season will be highlighted by the HH Sheikh Zayed Arabian Racing Festival on Saturday, March 8 and will feature the return of the extremely popular Camel and Ostrich Races.

"Our goal in 2013 was to improve the quality of our live racing product and the Houston Ladies Classic and Connally really set the tone for a great season," said Young. "We look forward to raising the bar even higher in 2014."

Officials have announced that Tuesday afternoon will replace Sunday in the 2014 Thoroughbred meet. Post times for live Thoroughbred racing will be Friday (7 p.m.), Saturday (7 p.m.), Monday (1 p.m.) and Tuesday (1 p.m.).

"We have been really pleased with the growth of Mondays since we added them in 2011," said Young.  "We are hoping to replicate some of that success with the additions of Tuesdays this coming season."

Following the conclusion of the Thoroughbred season on March 11, Sam Houston Race Park will host its 2014 American Quarter Horse Meet with 24 days. Live Quarter Horse racing will begin on Friday, March 21 and continue through May 11.

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