Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse Meeting To Begin June 29

Quarter Horses began arriving last week at Sam Houston Race Park for the track's eighth American Quarter Horse meeting, which is set to commence on Friday, June 29. Three additional dates were added at the request of horsemen and the Texas Racing Commission, and the meeting will continue through Sunday, September 16.

Purses will average $61,500 each day of the 47-day meeting, and the northwest Houston racetrack will feature 29 stakes races with purses in excess of $1,000,000. Live racing is set for Thursday through Sunday, with 7:00 p.m. post times for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and a 5:00 p.m. post time for Sunday.

"Sam Houston Race Park has always been a popular track with Quarter Horse owners and trainers," said Rob Werstler, director of the Texas Quarter Horse Association (TQHA). "This year they stepped up to the plate, adding three additional days and have the distinction of holding the longest Quarter Horse meeting in the country."

Highlights of the meeting include the Texas Summer Showdown on Saturday, July 28, 2001. Five stakes races will be on the evening card with a record of $140,000 in purses for three-year-olds and up. Officials are hoping to build on the success of this weekend, which also includes the TQHA Yearling Sale held in the air-conditioned comfort of Sam Houston Race Park. Last year's Texas Summer Showdown attracted some of the most talented American Quarter Horses in the country and drew a record crowd of 7,067 fans. Patrons at Sam Houston Race Park and at racetracks and simulcast facilities around the country wagered $1,022,307, breaking the $1 million mark for the first time during a Quarter Horse meeting since the track opened in 1994.

"Five years ago we made a commitment to the Quarter Horse industry to develop one of the premier meetings in the country," notes Bob Bork, senior vice president and general manager of Sam Houston Race Park. "The horsemen have responded, and with the help of both AQHA and TQHA, we have been steadily advancing the growth of live American Quarter Horse racing. With a strong marketing program already in place, we look forward to another record-setting meeting."

Trainers expected to have a strong showing for the upcoming meeting include John Buchanan, Kenneth Roberts, Guy Hopkins, Toby Keeton, Jesse Yoakum and Janet Van Bebber, who has taken over the racing operation of her late husband, Steve Van Bebber.

Van Bebber had won seven consecutive Quarter Horse trainer titles at Sam Houston since the northwest Houston racetrack opened in 1994. Janet Van Bebber will ship into Sam Houston Race Park following a successful meeting at Delta Downs in which she finished second in the trainer standings. Beverly McNeely takes over the training duties for Matt Baker and is off to a strong 2001 with a fourth place finish at Delta Downs.

Other trainers who will be shipping horses to Sam Houston Race Park include Rodolfo Sanchez, Chad Hassenpflug, Anthony Arey, Benny Pennington, Elroy Potts and Manuel Gonzalez, III.

Racing Secretary Eric Johnston is looking forward to a highly competitive Quarter Horse meeting.

"Trainers and owners are pleased with the purses and stakes schedules announced for the 2001 Quarter Horse meeting," said Johnston. "There is a lot of interest in the Hot Summer Nights Starter Series which will offer bonuses in both the sprint and distance divisions. We have increased purses for the Texas Summer Showdown on Saturday, July 28 and the five stakes races on the card will offer a record $140,000."

Live racing resumes on Friday, June 29. The first stakes race of the 2001 American Quarter Horse meeting at Sam Houston Race Park is the Harris County Stakes to be run on Saturday, June 30. Nominations close for the Harris County Stakes on Wednesday, June 29. Stakes schedules, Hot Summer Nights Starter Series nominations and the first condition book are available on the Sam Houston Race Park web site or by calling the Sam Houston Race Park racing office at 1-800-807-RACE.

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