Texas Racing Notes
From Mrs. Tittle

Letters from Mrs. Jill Tittle

Mon, 28 April, 1997

Hi Al,

I have spent so much time concentrating on the opening at LSP, that I have nearly forgotten the big picture. But of course, I have to start with Lone Star news...

Lone Star's second weekend in operation was marked by---rain, and lots of it. Despite the rain, the weekday attendance was around 6,000. Yesterday, rain and all, over 10,000 people went to watch the Grapevine Stakes (won by the Steve Asmussen trained Little Sister). Total handle yesterday was over $2.7M, with nearly $1M of that from on track live racing.

From where I'm sitting, things look good. Overall, there were not a whole lot of complaints about things opening weekend--and none which were not heard. Improvements will continue as the growing pains are felt. Adjustments have already been made: last weekend the jockeys pretty universally felt that full 14 horse fields running the mile 1/16 and mile 1/4 races didn't have enough room before the first turn to be safe. Lone Star has already adopted a policy of max fileds of 12 for those distances, thanks to the input of the jocks. So if you be a horseman or fan, any patrons of this facility in any fashion, don't be timid in letting the LSP management know what problems you encounter. They will do their best to fix them.

In an effort to help horsemen run their horses at this track, LSP has teamed up with the TTHBPA and Equine Express to establish a shuttle service for horses coming into LSP. Horses stabled at SHRP, Retama, and Louisiana Downs can be vanned in to LSP by Equine Express on Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday for a total cost to the horse owner of $50. Lone Star pays $75 per horse, and the TTHBPA pays the remaining $25 charged by EE. The programs has maximum value limited to $25,000 worth of service. Horsemen, take advantage of this--it is a great deal brought to you by some great forces!

While things look rosy and wonderful on the LSP front, there looms a monster of terrible proportions over the Texas horseracing industry. This monster is in the form of the tax taken by the state from the tracks. For those of you involved in 1987 when wagering became legalized in Texas, everyone was sure those big tracks would be built instantaneously. What stopped it? Why the tax the state was going to impose on the tracks--I think back then it was a whopping 5%. No track could get financing with such a ridiculously high cut for the state. When the next state legislature convened, horsemen managed to convince the legislators that the tax rate had to be cut--and so it was, in fact, cut to 1%. At that point, the financing and building of the tracks commenced. I got word the very day that LSP opened that state legislature was going to try to raise the tax again--to 3.5%. Talk about a sure way to kill our sport here. All of you busy with the grand plans for the future of racing here in Texas had better take a long hard look at what this latest legislature is trying to pass--it could kill us! Best ways to retaliate? Call or write your local senator, call or contact the TTBA PAC (Political Action Committee)--ask what you can do to help. We must beat this monster.

A rider has been attatched to the appropriations bill going through the legislature on another issue, as well. This rider is ultimately related to the testing of our horses for Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) via Coggins test. Apparently Texas is the only state of all those around us which DOES NOT require a Coggins on a horse run through a sale. Now the big auctions like those of the TTBA require them anyhow. The small Saturday night auctions which abound here don't require them. This poses the problem that any horse testing positive for EIA can be run through a sale, exposing all of our horses to this dreadful disease.

The Texas Animal Health Committee (TAHC) recently polled horsemen around the state on their feelings about Coggins testing for sale, branding/tattooing, and showing horses, and 82% of those responding replied that they were in favor of stricter regulations. Sounds straightforward and reasonable? I thought so. It did not meet the fancy of a group of Texas Horse Marketing Association members, who went before a fellow named Patterson, who happens to be the chairman of the Agricultural and Livestock Committee. I don't know what this group objected to specifically, but Patterson apparently has alot of power, as he threatened to cut funding to the TAHC unless they backed down on their request. In fact, the rider mentioned in the previous paragragh, if carried through, would cut funding the to the TAHC by $250,000 a year until an acceptable end has been reached (and let me give you a hint of who it must be acceptable to: starts with a "P", ends with a "son"). The TAHC stance has been fully supported by all factions of all the respective breeds, and members of all were in favor of simply overriding Patterson. The chairman of the TAHC Dick Sherron and Ed Small, a representative of the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association feel it would be best to try to work with Patterson and come to an agreement which would suit all parties. In the meantime, all Texas horsemen who agree with the TAHC position need to stand up and be counted. Let the TAHC know who you are! We need strict Coggins test plicies to keep our horses safe.

Well, with all that rigamarole behind me let me quickly say a few more things. First, the TTBA finally has a new executive director to take Jeff Hooper's place. Kevin Carlon is coming to us after having worked for the NY Thoroughbred Breeder's Association, Savin TB's, and a couple of major and minor league teams from other sports. Welcome Kevin.

Next, I need to mention that Tim Boyce has been named the Director of Sales for Fasig/Tipton in Texas (which you remember will be handling the future TTBA sales). Mr Boyce has alot of experience with TB's, between being the son of a trainer, having worked with the Maryland TBHA and HAF, not to mention the past three year's experience with Fasig/Tipton as a midatlantic rep. Good to have you on board, Mr Boyce.

Lastly, but not least, I want to mention that JoAnn Weber, the TTBA memebership/race coordinator, is recovering from surgery after having been diagnosed with cancer. According to reports, her prognosis is good, and she is recovering at home. Get well soon, JoAnn!!

Well, Al, that is about all I can manage to spit out this time. Hopefully we'll have better news to report next time :-).


Jill Tittle

Life is not a spectator sport

The Running Horse (http://www.isd1.com/)