Texas Racing Commission Hosts Horse Race Dates Committee Meeting: Difficult Choices, Decisions Ahead

(Austin, Texas - July 19, 2010) - On Friday, July 16, the Texas Racing Commission hosted a Horse Race Dates Committee meeting at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. Representatives from the horsemen, breed registries, Texas horse tracks, staff from the Texas Racing Commission and various members of the public attended the meeting chaired by Robert M. Schmidt, Vice-Chair of the Texas Racing Commission.

Track officials — noting that they could not continue to run the same schedule in the face of the double-digit decline in handle over the last two years — laid out their strategy for the 2011 racing season. The tracks described a plan that includes: a single 60-day Thoroughbred meet at Lone Star Park during the summer; a fall Quarter Horse and Minor breed meet at Lone Star Park; a mixed meet, predominantly consisting of Quarter Horses, at Sam Houston Race Park; and, potentially, a 24-day mixed meet in the fall at Retama Park. Commissioner Schmidt asked that the tracks bring a formal written proposal to the next committee meeting.

The horsemen and members of the public generally acknowledged that the industry faces a significant problem and that change must occur. However, there was no clear consensus that the plan presented by the tracks represents an appropriate solution.

For example, with the pending closure of Manor Downs, the Texas Horsemen’s Partnership stressed the need for and importance of a Quarter Horse meet in the spring. One supporter of the Texas Thoroughbred circuit submitted a formal alternative Thoroughbred racing schedule to the committee. Commissioner Schmidt said the committee would consider the alternative plan as part of its review.

After the meeting, Commissioner Schmidt said, "This is just the start of the process. These are hard times right now and everyone in the industry faces difficult choices. We understand that the race date calendar affects everyone in this industry.

“What might be the best time for a spring Quarter Horse meet and where should it be held? And how can the industry ensure that there are sufficient opportunities for Texas-based owners and breeders at every level? These are the kinds of things we’re working to resolve. We look forward to the next meeting at Sam Houston Race Park as the process moves along."

The committee meeting was the first of two scheduled before the Commission grants race dates. The meetings provide a forum for interested stakeholders and the public to discuss the potential number and locations of race dates and the purse levels for those dates. The Horse Race Dates Committee will meet again at Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, August 13, 2010.

The committee welcomes input on whether each racetrack’s proposed race meeting will serve to nurture, promote, develop or improve the horse industry in Texas. Among the factors the Commission may consider are: the current condition of the association's racetrack and facilities for patrons, race animals and occupational licensees; the anticipated effect of the proposed race meeting on the continuity of racing during the year; the live race dates requested by other associations licensed to conduct races for the same species of animal; the anticipated effect of the race meeting on the horse breeding industry in Texas; the anticipated effect of scheduled race meetings in neighboring race states on the proposed race meeting; and the anticipated availability of race animals for the race meetings.

The agendas for these committee meetings will be available at www.txrc.state.tx.us. For more information regarding race date allocation, please email info@txrc.state.tx.us, or contact Bill Childs at (512) 833-6699.

Back to News