Texas Racing Notes From Mrs. Tittle

Letters from Mrs. Jill Tittle

Wed, 31 August 1996

(Note: This edition of Texas Racing Notes is quite long due to mail problems between Jill and me. I have combined several mailings. Sorry for the lengthy page, but there is a lot of interesting stuff about Texas racing. So much is happening very quickly.) w

Hi Al,

The paper this morning reported that the major portion of Retama's bonds have been sold (pending approval of the TxRC) to a Florida company, Call Now, Inc. In addition to buying the majority of the municipal bonds, they will also provide operating funds. One of the issues with other potential buyers had been the lack of Tx owners, as 51% Texas ownership is required. Apparently, the purchasing group consistes of businessmen and horsemen alike, with many shareholders and directors being TX based. The track's current management will be kept in place. As well, a study will be done to determine the feasibility of keeping Retama going as a training facility off season. I was talking to Ken Quirk about the purchase this morning, and he said that he doesn't know the controlling family personally, but he understands they a very horse oriented group that really want to do things in the best interest of racing.

Meanwhile, SHRP seems to be pushing for alternate gaming forms at their track in order to more quickly alleviate their debt. The issues are becoming hot and heavy, as the Texas legislature's next session opens in January. Last session, we were unable to push through a measure that would permit OTB. OTB could really help our industry right now, but there are issues to that which would need to be resolved, such as cross simulcasting (horse racing vs greyhounds). The TTBA is planning the implementation of an econmic impact study to look at all of these issues. Perhaps that will give us an idea of the best way to handle all of these complicated issues.

Ken and I had quite a talk this morning. He had spent a good number of days this week up here in Dallas, working on various issues with Lone Star Park. He feels that at the rate LSP is going with the simulcasting, they will not create a smooth link or circuit of all the TX tracks. They should be way above and beyond the other two tracks. He also felt that this may leave a good number of TX horsemen left out, and probably annoyed at being left out. My opinion is this: we've been working toward making TX a big wheel in the horse racing world. LSP can really help towards that goal. LSP sounds like it will be making the jump to big time in just that--one big jump. The rest of us will need to catch up, and that will take awhile. I'm sorry if that means that TX horsemen will be scrambling for the next couple of years, trying to catch up. The breeding industry, although it has taken some big steps, will need to take some more big steps, as will the rest of the TX racing industry. This is the price we pay for going big time. And it is a price I'd pay 100 times over, if I could. Had we kept on with our breeding program, we would most likely be left in the dust--we just don't have the money to buy the breeding stock we need. If I could, I would *still* breed the best stock I could afford to. This is the jumping off point, and the time is now. Texans, hold on to your hats. Here we go, and you never know exactly where you'll end up when the ride stops :}

Ken was going to try to watch Baltic's race the other night--the TOF trials. He ended up having to go home before the race was run. Baltic hit 6th, and I thought probably the top 5 would be taken for the finals. He thought the top 6 would be taken. Hope so.

He said that he is going to step Herbie's feed up some. He seems not to be bulking up--he said Herbie keeps himself very fit, and if he were a little older, one would think he was ready for the races.

Wednesday, July 31, 1996 - Later

Not to take up your family time :} , but Danny S. called bright and early this a.m. He is the agent for Joe Archer. So, according to him, what they are interested in doing is putting the highlights of Joe's dispersal on the internet. He wantd to know things like how many people this would reach, whether they could access this info from a track, etc. I told him that any place that has internet access could get this info. He sounded very interested--he has to run this by Joe first, then he will call back--and I can get your phone # to him. We had a nice talk--he is a member of the board of directors of the TTBA, and is a member of the sales committee, as well. He is interested in trying to make the TTBA sales profitable for the consignors, not just the TTBA. Sounds like a good idea to me. He had the last horse of the sale 2 years ago when there were so many horses going for nothing. As he said, it's quite discouraging when a Pancho's Mexican Buffet truck drives up, takes out their clipboard, and starts checking the yearlings to see what kind of flesh they are in...

Now, for the TX stuff...

To give you a fuller picture of "the" stakes race offered on the weekend of the TTBA yearling sale--I now understand that there will be two stakes races for accredited Tx breds, hosted by Trinity Meadows. The first is the $25k Assault stakes for two year olds. The second is the $25k Ma Ferguson Stakes for three year old fillies. The idea behind all this is to draw attention to accredited Tx breds, and hopefully increase the number of people who want to buy accredited Tx breds.

Ken Quirk, bless his soul, has begun trying to organize (through the TTBA) a regional state-bred championship day for TX, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Seems like it would be a good idea. Market our product a little farther afield.

Texas TB Champions Day IV has been set up to occur November 23rd at SHRP. There are 8 stakes races on slate, with total purses to reach a tune of $275,000. More on that as we get closer to the day.

Here are the results of the TTBA Sale Futurities held at SHRP June 7th of
this year.  The filly division had a purse of $116,405, with consignor
awards $9,045.   The race was a 5f race for 2yos, and finished in :59.4.
Winning owner was Wesley Cooper; breeder, Dr. Ken Quirk and Prestonwood farm
(TEX); consignor, Terry Wynn ($5,427); trainer, George Bryant; jockey, Terry
Stanton.  Order of finish--1)Cooper's Top Angel--$69,843  2)Two Steppin'
Toni--$23,281  3)Lucky Mildred--$12,804  4)La Unica--$6,984  5)Tactics To
Go--$3,492  6)Swingtime Sinner  7)Princess Cashtime  8)Triple Down Lady
9)Feisty Prospect  10)Pretty Blue Miss  11)Anarene  12)Big Performer.

The colt and gelding division, aslo a race for 2yos going 5f, time :58.1, had a purse of $107,855, with consignor awards of $8,095. Winning owner was John Pierce II, Earl Bellamy. Breeder was David Unnerstall, DVM; trainer, Caroline Dodwell; jockey, Alvin Trahan. Order of finsh--1)Kas I'm Going To--$64,713 2)Tip Total and Sign--$21,571 3)Drahar--$11,864 4)Western Slew--$6,471 5)Mondesi--$3,235 6)Waecool Wally 7)Jazzy Ti 8)De Beau Bold 9)Navajo Mac 10)Pops Out The Gate 11)Airtex Scr--Southern Avenger

Next year's TTBA Sale Futurity will be for even more money. A portion of the money for this bonus was generated by the simulcasting going on at Lone Star. The purse is up to $225,000 for accredited TX breds, and $175,000 for non-accredited TX breds--for each division. That's pretty darned good money. Entry into this race is by berth only. For each yearling passing through the sles ring this year, there will be a berth awarded to consignor and buyer both. These berths are transferable for a $50 fee (for those of us not going to use them). There is a little catch, though. Each berth for a horse not sent through the sales ring, must be filled by an accredited TX bred.

Wednesday, July 31, 1996 - Still Later

It seems that there is alot going on right now--I send you some news on TX, and even more comes to me :}.

SHRP enjoyed it's largest attendance ever on the 4th, which happened to be the opening of the QH meet. The fireworks show probably helped attendance, as well--although I can't imagine it helping barns full of high-strung horses any. The official count was 18,580, with no mention of the handle.

According to this morning's Dallas Morning News, the drought is taking a toll on Retama Park. The lack of water is putting a real financial drain on Retama--in May alone, the had to purchase 5 million gallons of water. Wow, that's alot. I had no idea how much water is used just on the racing surface alone. According to the article, Dennis Moore, Retama's consultant for the racing surfaces, recommends 200-300k gallons per day be put on the turf course, and 150-200k gallons on the dirt track. And Retama isn't using as much as is recommended, purely due to the shortage of water. The water is required to keep all the components of the track surface together. Learn something new every day. It would be nice to get some more rain, although I wouldn't expect much more this summer. Moreover, I hope the end result of this drought is not the early closure of Retama.

And for those of you in the owning end of the market, here is value for you. The filly Vivace was purchased at the TTBA yearling sale two years ago for $7,700. In 10 career starts, she has eight firsts and two seconds, and has won all five of her starts at Louisiana Downs, earning a total of $263,064. Linda and Jerry Minter of Pilot Point were the lucky (and smart) high bidders for Vivace.

I talked to Jerry Saunders today. Jerry trains Baltic Coast, the Shuvinski colt we sold at the TTBA sale last year. He seems very pleased with the colt. Baltic will start again next week at Retama in the Texas Open Futurity trials. Jerry felt confident that he should get a spot. He has just been keeping Baltic training, after having run him on Retama's opening day June 8th. Baltic had come in 5th, so I asked what happened. It seems that Baltic was squeezed out at the start, since he seems to take awhile to get in gear. He had a wall of horses in front of him, and by the time he started to get by, it was too late, as it was only a 4 1/2f race. Jerry wants to keep the colt sound and healthy, and wait for races with a little more distance--since that is what he is bred for. I did, of course, mention to him that Baltic's half brother is selling this year--and that I thought (Herbie) will be even better than Baltic. He was very interested--a good sign.

We managed to get to Cedarcrest this afternoon to see Kay. I wasn't sure until the last minute that we would be free to go. I called Steve, and he said that unfortunately, he had to go to Tyler after lunch. Apparently Pancho Villa is having some trouble with the heat (it was 109 today, according to the mall thermometer), and Steve was looking into a special mist system for his stall. He told us to feel free to visit Kay, and he would be back by about 4. We hit quite a lick, and arrived at 2:30. We found the group of yearlings with no problem, all happy in their stalls. Kay looked great--has gotten bigger, of course. She looks to be the biggest (and best) of those that are there, but I am probably less than impartial. I was planning to get some pictures of Kay, but my blasted camera batteries wilted.

While we were there, I went to look at the stallions. I was most impressed with Tiffany Ice--a nice, big, stout gray, who has sired a Canadian champion, as well as a Mexican champion. And he was sweet as can be--just loved having his head rubbed (unlike Orbit Dancer, who was a turkey). State Dinner was less than interested in our presence. Joanie's Chief was another that enjoyed a little loving from us. Wayne's Crane seemed to like the attention, but he had that gleam in his eye ,"..just let go of my halter so I can take one teensy, weensy little nibble....". All that took not nearly enough time, and since it was very hot (and the kids were whining), we hit the road back to the big D. As it turned out, Steve didn't return until 4:30, so it would have been quite a wait for us. The trip is quicker than I had remembered, so we may go back in a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 31, 1996 - Even Later

**Now, for even more TX racing stuff.**

The Texas Racing Commission has awarded the racing dates for 1997.  They
are as follows:
Lone Star Park (Dallas)--        TBs          April 17-July 27
                                 Mixed        Oct 3-Nov 30

Sam Houston                      TBs          Feb 6-May 4
                                 QHs          July 4-Sept 21

Retama (San Antonio)             mixed        May 8-July 6
                                 TBs          July 3-Nov 22

Both SHRP and LSP wanted to be racing live during the Triple Crown--LSP got it, and those should be some fantastic days for racing. Although, SHRP did not get exactly what it wanted as far as race dates, most factions are pretty well satisfied that these dates are good ones. The Fairgrounds ends its meet at the end of March, and Oaklawn closes it's spring meet April 12. This will leave a good number of high quality horses available to ship to LSP for its opening. And having gotten record high attendance at SHRP by opening it's QH meet this year on July 4, they are pretty happy that they can do the same again next year.

The big sufferer of this schedule is Gillespie County Fair. They are the 4th track to be running horses on July 4th. They are a small (Class 3, I think) track that only runs a few days per year. This will leave a severe deficit of horses to run at their track. The GC Fair Assoc. officials feel pretty sure this will put them out of business, after more than 100 years of operation. It will be a shame if they don't have enough horses to run--racing at the big tracks is exciting and fun, but I don't think I have ever enjoyed myself more than getting to watch races at a local county fair track.

As you are aware, the TTBA yearling sale is just around the corner. The catalogue is really good this year. There is no question that the quality is improving by leaps and bounds here. I am quite pleased with Kay's placement in the sale--at hip #381, she is about 100 horses into the second day, where there should still be buyers around. Herbie's hip #547, leaves alot to be desired. He is only 10-15 horses from the end of the sale--bad placement. He has a few things going for him--there are only 5 Salt Dome horses in the sale, and he is the last one. If someone really wants a SD baby, and don't get one of the others, there is a possibility he could do ok. Also, there are some other nice horses around him, including a Hadif colt. Last year Hadif was the hot sire of the sale, with several of his babies bringing top $$. He has done well as a young sire, so that will help. I guess we'll see when the time comes.

I hope to see lots of TRH readers at the sale--stopping by your exhibit booth, perhaps?

Well, that is all I can manage to spit out in this sitting. Hope this finds you well. Say hello to the family for me.


Jill Tittle

Life is not a spectator sport

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