|Texas Racing Commission Grants Three
At a meeting on Tuesday, March 20, the
Texas Racing Commission (TRC) awarded licenses for three new Class 2 racetracks
in Texas. All three granted licenses are for facilities planned in South
Texas. On will be located in McAllen, and the other two will be located
in the Laredo area.
A group called Valle de los Tesoros, Ltd., led by Greg and Steve LaMantia,
whose family owns a major beer distributorship in South Texas, was granted
the McAllen license. The group also includes several Texas horsemen and
will be managed by Retama Park.
The proposed $23-million facility, which is expected to offer 18 days
of mixed meet racing annually, will include a seven-furlong racetrack,
an outdoor grandstand, and an indoor simulcast facility.
The license was granted despite opposition from officials with Valley
Race Park, a greyhound track located about 35 miles away.
The MAXXAM license for the Laredo area was issued on the condition that
the company divests itself of its ownership interest Valley Race Park
by May 4. This is because the Texas Racing Act does not allow a person
or company to own more than a 5% share in two racetracks in the state
at one time, and MAXXAM already owns Sam Houston Race Park and Valley
MAXXAM’s planned $28-million facility for Laredo would include
an enclosed, air-conditioned grandstand, a seven-furlong racetrack, and
year-round simulcasting. The track would conduct 20 to 30 days of mixed
meet racing per year and would also remain open year-round as a training
The other Laredo license, granted to a group including the LaMantia
family and a Retama Park group, is slated to be a $15-million facility
with an open-air grandstand and a seven-furlong racetrack. Managed by
Retama Park, the track would conduct 20 to 30 days of mixed meet racing
every year and be open for year-round simulcasting.
The state classifies its racetracks, with Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie,
Retama Park near San Antonio, and Sam Houston Race Park in Houston all
classified as Class I tracks. Smaller Class II racetracks are required
to race fewer days. Manor Downs is currently the only Class II racetrack
operating in Texas.
While licenses for two other Class II racetracks have been awarded by
the TRC in recent years (Saddle Brook Park in Amarillo and the Austin
Jockey Club), neither have currently built nor opened facilities. The
last new racetrack to open in Texas was Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie,
which opened for simulcasting in 1996 and for live racing in 1997.
Each of the groups licensed on Tuesday are expected to build their racetracks
and open for simulcasting in 2008, with racing soon to follow.
In other business at the meeting, the TRC did not approve Retama Park’s
request for a Thoroughbred meet in 2008 that would begin in January and
run through March. The request was opposed by Sam Houston Race Park, which
traditionally conducts a winter Thoroughbred meet that includes the requested
Originally, Retama had requested 42 days of Thoroughbred racing in the
fall of 2007. However, the track later amended that request to instead
conduct a 12-day Thoroughbred meet at Sam Houston Race Park. The idea
was that this would allow Retama to build its purse account in order to
conduct a meet in early 2008.
Retama officials will now regroup and determine the track’s best
course of action, which could include seeking a 2007 fall meet and/or
requesting different dates for 2008.
-compiled from information by Texas Thoroughbred Association, Daily
Racing Form, Thoroughbred Times, and The Blood-Horse