Friday, September 17, 2010

Horse Racing When You Least Expect It

We have one TV in our household. Well, not really. There is TV in the girls' playroom study junk room but it's small and the remote needs new batteries, which would explain why the girls have migrated into the family room and claimed the 50" flat screen TV as their own.

Anyway, last week as my daughters were watching Hannah Montana or some other lighthearted show on the Disney Channel, a brief infomercial - Disney's Movie Surfers - was broadcast (video), the movie being featured, Secretariat.

I've read the buzz. I've seen the movie trailers. And even in some vague subconscious notion, I knew that it's a Disney film. But I forgot about the kids! Horse racing on the Disney Channel?!? Who would've thunk!

The Disney infomercial included a little Q&A with "real life jockey", Kayla Stra. Kayla Stra, of course, was one of the featured jockeys on Animal Planet's "Jockeys". I remember that one of my TBA brethren - I can't exactly remember who, but I figure you know who you are - thought she was a real attractive reason to watch the show. So, whoever you are, this is for you:

Kayla Stra featured on Disney's Movie Surfers

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Texas Racing Commission Approves Reduction in Racing Dates

Yesterday, the Texas Racing Commission approved the 2011 Race Date Calendar which prominently featured a lot less racing.

Sam Houston Race Park will host 27 days of Thoroughbred racing starting in January and 30 days of Quarter Horse Racing beginning in March. Sam Houston Race Park will not run its Thoroughbred dates in November and December of 2010. Lone Star Park will host 52 days of Thoroughbred racing starting in mid-April and 26 days of Quarter Horse racing starting in September 2011.

Retama Park will host 10 Quarter Horse days starting in July, a 14-day mixed meet beginning at the end of July, and 21 Thoroughbred days beginning in September 2011. Gillespie County Fair and Festivals will host its traditional eight-day mixed meet in July and August. [TRC Press Release]

So, taking out your handy-dandy calculators, you'll see that it comes to 100 days of Thoroughbred racing and a handful of gemistewurst because nobody really knows what the heck they mean by "mixed meet".

The good news is that there will be racing at all three Class 1 racetracks in Texas. The original consolidation plan that took a machete to 48% of the race dates was scuttled as it hurt too many horsemen whose livelihood depend on the Texas racing circuit.

The bad news is that there will be racing at all three Class 1 racetracks in Texas.
“We have to supply racing dates and support the horsemen even if we lose money.” [Bryan Brown, CEO of Retama Park]

Not a very good business model.

With less racing days, the racetracks can increase their daily purses. Lone Star Park, going from 60 days to a 52-day meet, can increase purses to $180,000 per day. Frankly, to some owners and trainers, that doesn't look any more appealing than $150,000 per day. And will this improve the quality of racing product? Or is it just providing life support for Texas racing?