More than 100 horses being stabled as of Aug. 29.
So far the Texas Thoroughbred industry appears to have escaped the worst of Hurricane Harvey, which battered the Gulf Coast with damaging winds when it made landfall Aug. 25 and has since saturated the Houston area with a record 49 inches of contiguous rain.
Sam Houston Race Park, which is located northwest of downtown Houston and adjacent to the Sam Houston Tollway, has not sustained any major damage or flooding, according to Roland Tamez, who is with the track’s security team. The track did not have any racehorses on the grounds when the storm hit because its live racing season ended in May.
The barn area is now being used to provide free shelter for horses being evacuated out of flooded areas. Several horses had been sent to the track ahead of the storm because their owners had experienced flooding in the past.
“We’ve got over 100 horses in three barns right now,” said Tamez, who added that anyone who needs shelter for their horses can call the track at (281) 807-8790 and arrange for a security officer to assist.
“These stalls do not have gates,” Tamez said. “So horse owners need to provide a gate or stall webbing, hay, feed, bedding, tubs, and buckets. The track is providing water.”
Tamez said the roads around the racetrack are clear, and he noted there is no flooding along the nearby segment of the tollway and the feeder roads. He said roads also are clear between the racetrack and I-45.
Sam Houston president Andrea Young said the barn area will be available as long as necessary.
“There are areas that may take three weeks to a month before people can get back into their homes, because that’s how long it will take for the water to go down,” Young said. “We’re prepared to help as long as we need to.”
Heavy rains much farther inland did effect the Gillespie County Fairgrounds, which had to cancel live racing this weekend at its track near Fredericksburg and will conduct three of its Quarter Horse stakes races at Retama Park in San Antonio, which is about 70 miles away. No damage was done to the facility, but state stewards determined the saturated racing surface was unsafe.
Aside from the horses being sheltered at Sam Houston, the Texas Thoroughbred Association has not fielded many calls for assistance over the past few days, according to TTA executive director Mary Ruyle.
“We are compiling and will publish a list of resources,” Ruyle said. “But it is surprising we haven’t heard more.”
One reason, she said, may be because a majority of the farms are located inland from the hardest hit areas. James Leatherman, racing secretary at Retama, said the racetrack only got two inches of rain with winds of 45-50 mph, which caused only minor damage to some fencing.
In Louisiana, the Equine Sales Company has announced that its Consignor Select Yearling Sale set for Aug. 31 in Opelousas, will be held as scheduled starting at 10 a.m. local time. The sales facility and the surrounding area have not been significantly affected by Hurricane Harvey.