The Houston track steps back from announcement to resume simulcasting Feb. 3.
On the day Sam Houston Race Park intended to resume interstate simulcasting, the Houston racetrack took a step back and has put that plan on hold citing the need for a legal review of the “many complexities” surrounding recent court action and law amendments by Congress related to the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.
“We have determined more time is needed to fully evaluate the many legal complexities surrounding recent court decisions and the HISA amendment enacted by Congress at the end of last year,” said a statement released by Sam Houston Feb. 3.
The decision to resume simulcasting followed a Jan. 31 ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that denied a request by HISA and the Federal Trade Commission to reverse a decision that the HISA is facially unconstitutional. The appellate court had Nov. 18 reversed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that had upheld the constitutionality of the HISA after it was challenged by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, multiple state HBPA affiliates, the State of Texas, and the Texas Horse Racing Commission. Since the initial Fifth Circuit ruling, Congress amended the language of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act to include “clarifying language” that shores up the FTC’s oversight of HISA.
Thoroughbred racing at Sam Houston Race Park returns Jan. 6, 2023, with several changes planned for its 43-day Thoroughbred meet.
The Thoroughbred meet will feature afternoon racing on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 1 p.m CT. Holiday Monday racing, also at 1 p.m., will take place on Martin Luther King Day and President’s Day.
Thoroughbred racing in Texas stopped being exported for simulcast this July at Lone Star Park when Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority oversight began over much of the country.
The Houston Racing Festival highlights the stakes schedule on Jan. 28. The 2023 edition will offer five stakes, anchored by the $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3) and the $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3T). The $100,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile, $100,000 Bara Lass stakes, and $100,000 Groovy Stakes will be included on the undercard.
Frank Hopf, Sam Houston Race Park’s assistant general manager, looks forward to welcoming Houston horseplayers and new fans to the northwest Houston racetrack.
“The new schedule and start times present an opportunity to engage with our loyal simulcast guests and attract new fans with daytime racing,” said Hopf. “Moving our stakes races and promotions to the afternoons will provide new opportunities for everyone.”
The 2023 Sam Houston stakes schedule can be viewed online.
Bart Lang will serve as director of racing for the 2023 live racing season, including the 25-day Sam Houston Race Park Quarter Horse meet from April 21-June 17.
(Austin, TX) – At Wednesday’s Texas Racing Commission meeting, Sam Houston Park General Manager Dwight Berube confirmed that the Houston area track will apply for 43 live race dates in 2023, beginning January 6th. The 2023 Texas live racing schedule will be similar to 2022, as Lone Star Park has already applied for 48 days.
While plans for the overall stakes program have not been finalized, the 2023 race meet at Sam Houston will feature the inaugural running of the $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Derby and Oaks for graduates of the 2021 TTA Yearling Sale and 2022 TTA Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale. The schedule will also include 10 Texas-bred stakes and two legs of the Clarence Schaubauer, Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes.
“With Monday’s Texas Thoroughbred Association Yearling Sale on the immediate horizon, we appreciate the continued support of the Texas tracks,” TTA Executive Director Mary Ruyle said. “On Monday, we will offer more than 200 yearlings, which is the most in recent history. Over the past couple years, we have made great strides in the quality of racing in Texas.”
Jockey Stewart Elliott picked up his second leading rider title at Sam Houston Race Park as the meet wrapped up its 50-day stand Saturday, April 9th. Elliott had the support of trainer Steve Asmussen, riding first call for the Hall of Fame conditioner as he piloted 296 mounts, winning 62 races with earnings of $1,490,006. The successful union between Elliott and Asmussen began in Houston two years ago and has continued at Lone Star Park and Remington Park.
Asmussen won his 14th training title at the northwest Houston racetrack, following honors as top trainer in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. Asmussen started 259 runners, finishing with a record of 51 wins, 41 seconds, 55 thirds and earnings of $1,554,306. He conditions Stonestreet Stable’s homebred Pauline’s Pearl (Tapit), who captured the richest race of the annual Sam Houston Thoroughbred season, the $400,000 GIII Houston Ladies Classic.
End Zone Athletics, Inc. clearly topped the owner standings, finishing with 22 wins, 29 seconds and 18 third-place finishes from 137 starters. The ownership group, founded by Karl Broberg, has been a force at Sam Houston for over a decade with previous titles in 2018 and 2020.
Solid Meet for the Son of Top Louisiana Jockey Gerard Melancon
HOUSTON, TX- In the business world, there are countless stories about family-owned businesses transitioning between generations. In the racing industry, training mantles have been passed down between parent and child with tremendous success. But obstacles are plentiful when the son of an elite jockey chooses to pursue that same career path.
Thoroughbred jockey Jansen Melancon is a prime example. The 33-year-old rider is the son of one of the top riders in the country, Gerard Melancon. Known affectionately as Gee-Money, Gerard has won 5,048 career races and with his outgoing personality and bevy of top trainers in his hip pocket, seems destined to ride for many more years.
His son, Jansen, shipped his tack to Sam Houston Race Park in January and is currently tenth in the standings. He returns to action this week off a notable showing last weekend. He guided Gold Declaration to a driving runner-up finish at odds of 34-1 for trainer Terry Eoff on Friday, February 18. On the Texas Preview card, he scored an adroit stakes win aboard Chief Brady in the $75,000 Jim’s Orbit. Melancon, riding for horseman Dallas Keen, found an opening on the rail and confidently navigated the 3-year-old to the wire. It’s difficult for members of the Sam Houston jockey colony to command attention with veterans Stewart Elliott and Ry Eikleberry winning races for top horsemen Steve Asmussen and Karl Broberg. But last weekend, racing fans in Houston and across the country, saw the talent of Jansen Melancon.
Jansen began riding in 2008 and has won 761 races from over 7,300 starts and purses of $14.2 million. Becoming a professional jockey was all he ever dreamed about, and he always had the support of his father.
“He never discouraged me, ever,” stated Jansen. “He always wanted me to be happy.”
But for many years, being the son of Gerard Melancon, created imposing obstacles. Annette Melancon, wife of Gerard, and mother to sons Jonas and Jansen, remembers it well.
“People would tell Jansen that he had big shoes to fill or call him ‘little G’ referencing the well-known tag of “Gee Money,” she recalled. “It was difficult for him.”
Jansen had a tough time with it, but soldiered on as he made the rounds, picking up mounts for a number of horsemen.
“When I first got going, Joey Foster was one of the trainers who stuck his neck out for me,” he said. “Throughout my career, I’ve never ridden first call for a barn; I’ve always had mounts for many horsemen, and I appreciate each of them.”
Jansen faced challenges for many years; there were wins, but he was far from an overnight success. Alcohol played too much of a role in his life and he chose to face his addiction.
“I have been sober for two years now and have never felt better,” he explained.
Jansen always had the support from his parents and his wife, Brooke. They live just a subdivision away from them in Scott, Louisiana, with their 6-year-old son, Emmitt.
Gerard Melancon watches pretty much all of Jansen’s races and was thrilled with his three-bagger here on January 15.
“That was a great night for Jansen,” said his proud dad. “He’s always had a hard time riding under me in Louisiana. Hopefully he will pick up some owners and trainers because he has so much talent and he just needs opportunities!”
Jansen is in agreement with Gerard on that front.
“A lot of the trainers knew me as a kid,” said Jansen. “The comparisons to my dad were ongoing, but riding in a different circuit, I am Jansen, not G’s son.”
On Saturday, February 19, Gerard won the finale at Delta Downs aboard Frank the Mayor for trainer Keith Charles. That evening, he and Annette settled into their recliners to watch Jansen ride the Texas Preview Night card at Sam Houston Race Park. Jansen piloted Chief Brady in the $75,000 Jim’s Orbit, who had won his debut in January for trainer Dallas Keen. He was stepping up against in stakes company, but Jansen settled the 3-year-old colt on the backstretch before finding room on the rail. The son of Bradester responded gamely and drew off to a three-length victory at odds, rewarding his fans with a $13.20 win payout.
“He’s never had dirt in his face, but took it well,” said Jansen. “He was moving nicely and dragging me along; I saw the rail open and took the opportunity.”
Keen had no hesitation is giving Melancon the return call.
“Jansen is a talented rider,” stated Keen. “He shows up in the mornings and listens when I tell him about what the horses like and do not like. He won by six lengths on Chief Brady in his debut and made an impressive move up the rail in the Jim’s Orbit.”
In addition to impressing Keen and racing fans last Saturday, Melancon drew rave reviews from his parents.
“Gerard was whooping and hollering watching Jansen win that stakes,” said Annette. “It was exciting; we were very proud of him!”
Jansen has ridden against his father many times in Louisiana and is destined for repeat duels in the future. His approach is that they are just two jockeys trying to cross the finish line first.
“When I am in the starting gate, it doesn’t matter who I am riding against,” said Jansen. “It’s just me and the horse trying to win the race.”
He will ride at Sam Houston Race Park until the 2022 Thoroughbred season wraps on Saturday, April 9. Jansen and his agent, Bubba Wood have several options open about his next stop.
“I feel I have never worked a day in my life,” he explained. “It’s still fun. There’s no freer feeling than being on the back of the horse.”
About Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. Owned by Penn National Gaming. Inc., the racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions including a Suite Level featuring luxurious suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
Request For 50-Day Thoroughbred Meet Granted at Tuesday’s Texas Racing Commission Meeting
HOUSTON, TX – Sam Houston Race Park will kick off its 2022 live racing season on Thursday, January 6 with an expanded 50-day Thoroughbred meet. The Thoroughbred meet will conclude on Saturday, April 9. The dates were approved by the Texas Racing Commission on Tuesday, July 27.
Sam Houston Race Park was granted 46 Thoroughbred days in 2021and had one of the most successful seasons since it opened in 1994 as the first Class 1 racetrack in Texas. One of the major highlights was its $5.3 million handle for the annual Houston Racing Festival. Houston Ladies Classic (G3) winner St. George Stable’s Letruska continues to deny her rivals in graded stakes competition across the United States. She currently tops the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll, a weekly salute to the ten leading Thoroughbreds in North America.
Sam Houston Race Park also received approval for their annual Quarter Horse racing season. The 25-day meet will begin on Friday, April 22 and continue through Saturday, June 18.
“We are pleased that we have approval for next year’s live racing schedule,” said Dwight Berube, Sam Houston Race Park’s General Manager. “We are in the midst of planning for 2022 and look to build on the momentum that we were able to achieve this year.”
Further information on purses, stakes schedule, stall applications, training hours and condition books will be forthcoming.
About Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. The Park offers a variety of attractions including a Suite Level featuring luxurious suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and theJockey Club. For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
Two other horses’ sample sizes were insufficient and two of the 10 tested clean.
Thursday, Sam Houston Race Park announced that Friday’s Grade 2 race will be held as a non-wagering event, and that trainers of horses testing positive will be barred from entering at the track, effective immediately.
Sam Houston Race Park has canceled live racing through Saturday, Feb. 20, due to continued winter weather, the Houston track announced Feb. 17 via Twitter. Racing on Wednesday had also been canceled.
Five stakes races for state-breds as part of the Texas Preview Day program had been scheduled for Saturday but are now moved back a week.
“Due to ongoing weather conditions in Houston, SHRP has canceled racing through Feb. 20,” Sam Houston wrote in a tweet.
“Texas Preview Day is now rescheduled for Saturday, Feb. 27.
“The 5 Stakes Races will not be redrawn.”
Texas Preview Day will feature the $75,000 Houston Turf Stakes for 4-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles, the $75,000 H-Town Stakes for 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs, the $75,000 Jim’s Orbit Stakes for 3-year-old colts and geldings at six furlongs, the $75,000 Miss Bluebonnet Turf Stakes for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up at a mile, and the $75,000 Two Altazano Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.
Letruska winning the GIII Houston Ladies Classic S. | Coady Photography
Sam Houston Race Park set a record for handle during its 10-race Houston Racing Festival card Sunday, Jan. 31. Besides the $300,000 GIII Houston Ladies Classic S. and $200,000 GIII John B. Connally Turf Cup S., the fixture also featured the $200,000 Texas Turf Mil S., $100,000 Pulse Power Turf Sprint S., the $75,000 Stonerside Sprint S. and the $75,000 Jersey Lilly Turf S. A record total of $5.3 million was wagered at the Houston-area track.
“We are thrilled with the success of this year’s Houston Racing Festival and setting a record handle of $5.3 million,” said Frank Hopf, Senior Director of Racing. “It was a team effort from everyone at Sam Houston and our thanks go out to all the horsemen and owners for supporting our meet. This would not be possible without our horseplayers, both here in Texas and nationally. It was a great day.”
Request For 46-Day Thoroughbred Meet Granted at Tuesday’s Texas Racing Commission Meeting
HOUSTON, TX – Sam Houston Race Park will kick off its 2021 live racing season on Friday, January 8 with an expanded 46-day Thoroughbred meet. Live racing will be conducted on the traditional Friday and Saturday evenings, with Thursday late afternoon racing added to the calendar throughout the season. Wednesday afternoon racing will return for seven weeks beginning February 10. The Thoroughbred meet will conclude on Saturday,
Purses will be substantial with a total of $11.4 million offered throughout the season. Horsemen will have the opportunity to run for overnight purses of approximately $248,000 per day with notable levels as follows:
Maiden races will be offered at $36,000
Allowance races will start at $37,000
The 2021 Thoroughbred Stakes schedule will offer approximately $2,200,000 in purses. A complete stakes schedule will be released in early October, but officials have confirmed that the Houston Racing Festival will take place on Sunday, January 31 with an afternoon post time. Both the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) and the John B. Connally Turf (G3) continue to attract nationally prominent trainers and serve as a springboard for each champion to garner multiple graded stakes throughout the year.
“We had an exceptional meet in 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic forced its early cancelation,” said Dwight Berube, Sam Houston Race Park’s General Manager. “Our goal throughout this year was to move forward and offer our loyal horsemen and women even better opportunities for 2021. We are very excited about the upcoming racing season!”
Sam Houston Race Park also received approval for their annual Quarter Horse racing season. The 23-day meet will begin on Friday, April 23 and continue through Saturday, June 12.
Frank Hopf, Senior Director of Racing Operations and James Leatherman, Racing Secretary announced that stall applications for the upcoming meet are due by Wednesday,November 6. The Sam Houston Race Park barn area will open on Saturday, November 28 with training hours set to commence on Tuesday, December 1. The first condition book will be available in mid-October and further information about the season can be accessed at www.shrp.com.
About Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. SHRP offers a variety of attractions including luxury suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options in the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
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