Texas Racing Commission Meeting Brief And Productive

A May 2 Texas Racing Commission meeting was brief but productive. A number of minor items were addressed, with the only major news being the commission's approval an agreed order negotiated with Manor Downs regarding how the purse funds for the cancelled meet are to be distributed.

A number of minor changes were unanimously approved for rules governing such areas as definitions, distance markers and license fees. Additionally, the commissioners unanimously approved the posting of proposed changes to rules governing employees of training facilities and the Lasix rule.

Texas Horsemen's Partnership (THP) Executive Director Tommy Azopardi gave a brief statement explaining that the THP will be making a formal written statement regarding the proposed change to the Lasix rule during the comment period after it is posted in the Texas Register, as is required by Texas law.

Dr. Schulze was then called on to outline the proposed changes to a section governing priority of signals. He explained that he is not comfortable with the recent changes to this rule, which allows Class III and Class IV horse tracks to offer year-round simulcast wagering, but restricted it to Fredericksburg because of the stipulation that a track has to be continuously operating for 25 years. He stated that it is his preference to open the rule up and allow the Commission flexibility in granting this approval to any qualified track under the criteria previously listed. His proposal passed by unanimously.

Next on the agenda was the consideration of a request by the Texas Arabian Breeders Association to change the rules that affect its accredited Texas-bred program. It was pointed out that the changes were basically internal house cleaning procedures, and the changes were approved unanimously.

The Commission had invited representatives from the North American Pari-mutuel Regulators Association (NAPRA) to give a presentation on the benefits of membership in the organization. After hearing the presentation, the Commission asked NAPRA to furnish financial information relating to their organization so it could review the material and consider future membership.

The meeting then turned to Retama Park's request to reconfigure its 2001 race dates. Retama made two requests: to change the dates on which it will run Monday night Thoroughbred racing during the current Quarter Horse meet, and to change from Sunday racing to Wednesday racing during the fall Thoroughbred meet in order to maximize attendance and handle. The Commission approved both requests by a unanimous vote.

The Commission approved Lone Star Park's All-Star Jockey Championship wagers for 2001 unanimously. TRC Executive Secretary Paula Flowerday explained to the Commissioners that it was the same wager that the Commission had approved in past years and that the TRC staff had reviewed the request and saw no reason not to give approval.

Bob Bork of Sam Houston Race Park appeared before the Commission requesting a change in the structure of ownership at SHRP, explaining that it was basically reconfiguring some shareholders and that no significant change was going to occur. The Commission approved his request unanimously.

Next, Paula Flowerday outlined the agreed order that was negotiated with Manor Downs. She distilled the weeks of activity that led up to the agreed order into a 15-minute recap, emphasizing the highlights of the order.

Several Commissioners asked Mrs. Flowerday about the clarity of the order, stressing that they did not want any more delays, loopholes or ambiguity to come up again on this matter. They also asked Manor's attorney, Tom Weber, to approach the podium and assure them that he and his client had understood that Manor would not be able to simulcast if the deadlines in the agreed order were not met.

After a long discussion, the Commission approved the agreed order by a unanimous roll call vote.

THP Counsel Gene Palmer then presented the two contracts between the HBPAs and Manor Downs. He stated that they were similar to contracts presented to the TRC in years past and urged the Commission to approve the documents.

Larry Christopher praised the HBPAs and the TRC staff for the job done in dealing with Manor Downs and this unpleasant situation. Then, the Commission approved the contracts by a unanimous voice vote.

At the conclusion of business, the Commission set its next meeting date for June 27 at 10:00 a.m.

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