Sam Houston Race Park to Reopen for Simulcasting on Monday, September 26

Life in Houston is returning to normalcy after a week of turmoil caused by Hurricane Rita. As early as Monday, September 19, meteorologists were forecasting that Houston and Galveston would be in the eye of the storm, feared as a Category 5 hurricane.

The forecasts got more severe as the week progressed and on Wednesday, September 21, Mayor Bill White and city officials were ordering the evacuation of Galveston and other Gulf Coast communities and urging all Houstonians to stock up on critical supplies and either brace for the storm or evacuate the area.

Sam Houston Race Park is not currently hosting a live racing meeting; the 2005 American Quarter Horse season concluded on September 10 and Thoroughbreds will return to action on Friday, October 28. The northwest Houston racetrack is open for simulcasting throughout the downtime, but track officials heeded the warning and like most Houston businesses, closed from Thursday, September 22 - Sunday, September 25.

Fortunately, for the greater Houston area, Hurricane Rita was downgraded to Category 3 status and made its major impact on East Texas and Louisiana. Sam Houston Race Park, located 60 miles from Galveston, sustained relatively little damage. Some tree limbs fell, a section of the valet oval cover was destroyed and there was no electricity for approximately six hours early Saturday morning. While flooding was rampant in Beaumont and Louisiana, Sam Houston Race Park had less than one inch of rainfall from Friday through Saturday.

The track was prepared to reopen for simulcasting on Sunday, September 25, but city officials had asked all non-essential businesses to remain closed on Sunday so that the million Houstonians that evacuated the city could return in an orderly fashion. There was also concern from Mayor Bill White and other city managers regarding the scarcity of gas in Houston and its surrounding areas.

"We had closed for simulcasting Thursday - Saturday and intended to reopen on Sunday depending on the severity of the storm," said Ann McGovern, vice president of operations. "Based on the recommendations of Mayor White, we decided to remain closed on Sunday, September 25. We plan to reopen on Monday, September 26 and regret any inconvenience to our simulcast patrons for the extended closure."

Simulcast schedules are available on the Sam Houston Race Park web site, The 2005/2006 Thoroughbred meeting will begin on Friday, October 28 and continue through April 9, 2006.

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