||Texas Horsemen's Partnership Meetings
at LSP and SHRP Part of Continuing Examination of Possible 2011 Race Dates
(Austin, Texas - July 6, 2010) - Every year,
the Texas Horsemen’s Partnership, the breed organizations (TTA,
TQHA, TABA, TPHA), and the Texas racetracks hold a number of meetings
to discuss the upcoming year’s race dates calendar in hopes of coming
to a consensus in time to present a united industry plan to the Texas
Racing Commission (TxRC) when it is time for race dates to be considered
by the Commission. This year, because of the continuing decline in handle
– both live and outbound simulcast – we began our meetings
earlier than normal. In addition to race dates, we all wanted to brainstorm
ideas to promote our industry, trying to find creative solutions in areas
like new wagers and other possible promotional incentives for our patrons.
During these meetings, all parties put their preferences and concerns
out on the table, and we have progressively tried to hammer out an agreement
on a race dates calendar for 2011 that is acceptable – though not
necessarily ideal – to all parties involved.
Concurrently, the TxRC staff talks to all of the involved parties and
analyzes all the available data (wagering trends, purse levels, race dates,
etc.) every year. Based on this information, the TxRC staff develops a
recommendation for a race dates calendar for the following year.
If all the involved parties come to an acceptable agreement on dates
and the TxRC staff approves of the plan, this is what the TxRC staff recommends
to its Commissioners. If no agreement is reached, or if the TxRC staff
does not like the agreement that is reached, the TxRC can recommend its
own alternate plan to its Commissioners. In the end, it is the TxRC that
has the power to set the racing calendar, at which time it is each track’s
choice as to whether to run the dates granted to it, request a change
in dates or number of days, or refuse to run the dates it was granted
and face any consequences of doing so.
Wagering levels, and thus purse levels, have dropped in Texas for the
last four consecutive years. At the same time, the racing states that
surround us (Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas) and with which
we compete for horsemen and horses have all benefited from alternative
forms of gaming supplementing their purse structures. Once competitive
in the region, Texas purses are now lagging behind all of its competitors,
and the resulting exodus of horses and horsemen have led to smaller and
smaller field sizes and a lower quality of racing – a combination
that has caused wagering on Texas racing to slip in recent years. As a
result, all of the parties involved in Texas racing acknowledged early
this year that we would have to consider some very difficult choices regarding
2011 race dates this year, so the discussions and meetings commenced earlier
Many ideas and scenarios have been researched and discussed, and many
widely varying opinions on all of those scenarios have been considered.
In an effort to make sure horsemen had a chance to hear an accurate depiction
of where the negotiations currently stand, the Texas Horsemen’s
Partnership held a meeting for its member horsemen at Lone Star Park last
Thursday, July 1 and at Sam Houston Race Park last Friday, July 2. In
attendance at both meetings were representatives from the THP’s
Board and each of the state’s three Class One racetracks.
Approximately 150 horsemen attended the meeting at Lone Star, and approximately
80 attended the meeting at Sam Houston. At both meetings, the Texas racetracks
laid out their current proposal for 2011 race dates.
According to the tracks’ current proposal for 2011, Lone Star
Park will race Thoroughbreds starting the first week in April for 60 days
for an average daily purse distribution of $230,000. Sam Houston would
have a 25-28 day mixed meet in June and July, and Retama Park would have
a 25-day mixed meet starting in early August. The exact dates of the mixed
meets are still undecided and can be adjusted to meet the needs of the
Retama Park will have a 16-day Thoroughbred meet this year beginning
on September 3rd.
Negotiations are still ongoing, and the horsemen are waiting for a proposal
from the racetracks regarding the very important Spring Quarter Horse
dates that have been lost as a result of Manor Downs announcing that it
will not apply for dates for 2011.
The THP, the breed organizations, and the tracks will continue this
annual negotiation process in hopes of coming to an agreement on a 2011
race dates proposal we can jointly submit to the TxRC for consideration.
As this arduous process continues, the THP welcomes the input of its member
horsemen and women.
The THP acknowledges that this is a very important issue for all horsemen
and women racing in Texas, and the members of the Boards of Directors
of the THP’s partner organizations, THBPA and TTHBPA, Inc., are
trying very hard to find the right mix of race meets, race dates, and
attainable purse levels based on current and projected wagering levels
in order to offer the best opportunities possible for horsemen racing
in Texas during this very difficult time.