Q-Racing Blog: Beating The Odds

What are the odds on Texas racing?

Q-Racing Journal

The future of Texas' $5.5-billion horse racing industry is in doubt.

I don’t know what the morning-line odds are for Texas racing over the next few years.

I don’t understand why the $9 million that it takes to run the racing commission in Texas each year is an issue. Especially since the $9 million comes from the racing the commission regulates. Racing backers claim the sport supports 36,000 jobs, direct and indirect, and that racing is a $5.5 billion economic boon to the state each year, according to the The Texas Tribune on November 4.

It appears to me for a self-funded $9 million to regulate a $5.5 billion annual business should be an odds-on favorite.

The Texas Racing Commission at their October meeting approved live horse racing dates for 2017 and 2018. May their optimism turn into reality.

I travelled to G. Rollie White Downs in Brady, Texas, back on October 6, 1989, to cover the return of pari-mutuel racing to Texas after a 52-year absence. The feature race was the $5,000-added Heart of Texas Stakes for Thoroughbreds. Quarter Horses raced 870 yards in the $3,500-added City of Brady Handicap.

The optimism at G. Rollie White Downs exceeded the quality of racing. The only thing that exceeded the optimism was a rain deluge. In the tent that was the press box, the power went out and the water rose to six-inches deep. Newspaper writer Randy Galloway quipped: “Now I’m glad we don’t have power. We’d all be electrocuted.”

Despite the downpour, television crews and newspaper reporters from throughout the state covered the return of gambling. Folks said that it was just a matter of a few years before Texas had top-shelf racing with an international impact.

G. Rollie White Downs closed three months after it opened and opening day was its finest day.

The 2004 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Lone Star Park have been the Thoroughbred highlight and a day with an international impact. There was another good thing that occurred at Lone Star Park. In 1993, the first Texas Classic Futurity was contested. It carried an $851,670 purse and has an impact in championship voting.

This year’s Texas Classic Futurity’s purse of $1,151,780 is the largest purse in Texas and it is a highly respected Grade 1 race. It will run on November 14 and deserves to continue indefinitely.

The first running was won by Heza Fast Man and other winners include Mr Jess Perry, Azoom, PYC Paint Your Wagon, Valiant Hero, Tempting Dash and Kates Dynasty.

Last year, a 12-1 longshot named Torts On Fire won his maiden for owners Terry and Irene Stennett and trainer Trey Wood.

Wood is back this year with the ninth- and 10th-fastest qualifiers: Terry Stennett’s Tres Friends and Johnny Trotter’s Jess A Sweetie.

Tres Friends earned $420,000 of his $422,830 in earnings when he overcame trouble to score in the $1 million Rainbow Futurity (G1) at Ruidoso Downs. He won at nearly 10-1 odds over favored First Valiant Sign, winner of the $750,000 Ruidoso Futurity (G1).

The Tres Seis-sired Tres Friends had shin problems that precluded his running in the All American Futurity trials. The gelding was off until the Texas Classic trials when he finished fourth in his trial behind top-qualifier EC Jet One. Tres Friends recorded the ninth-fastest time of :19.569 for 400 yards.

“He’s doing really well now,” Wood said. “He didn’t get away well (from the gate) in his trial. It was his first time racing at night and some horses need a race at night. I think he is one of those. Also, he really needed the race. He’s sitting where we want him.”

Jess A Sweetie, an Allred Brothers-bred daughter of Apollitical Jess and One Sweet Dash, has developed this fall at Lone Star Park. She won her maiden in her fourth start when she took her Dash For Cash Futurity trial by one-and-one-quarter lengths, but did not qualify. She came back in her Texas Classic Futurity trial to finish a head behind Heritage Place Futurity (G1) runner-up A Tres Of Paint. Jess A Sweetie has the 10th-fastest qualifying time of :19.575.

“We took the blinkers off her for the All American Futurity trials because she was unpredictable in the gate. Since she has gotten here (Lone Star Park), she has settled down and doing well.

“She just got outrun in her trial.”

Jess A Sweetie is a half-sister to world champion One Dashing Eagle and has the same cross as Golden State Million Futurity (G1) winner One Sweet Jess, who is by Apollitical Jess’ sire Mr Jess Perry. Jess A Sweetie was a $260,000 purchase at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.

This is a tightly bunched field based on qualifying times with EC Jet One topping the qualifiers’ list at :19.472. That means the equivalent of three quarters of a length separates the entire field.

Upsets happen. Torts On Fire won last year’s Texas Classic Futurity at double digit odds and Wood is back this year with the ninth- and 10th-fastest qualifiers. He’s got a shot.

Hopefully, Texas racing overcomes unjustified odds.


*A note from Wrangler Ace Martha Claussen:

First Challenge Finalist for Owner Rodney Verret: Rodney Verret's Cartels Fortune won the $28,080 Merial Texas Distaff Challenge at Sam Houston Race Park on May 2. Her trainer Roy Roberts hopes that the 4-year-old daughter of Carters Cartel returns to her winning ways in Saturday's $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championships (G1).

The Louisiana-bred mare came to Houston off a four-month layoff after winning five consecutive races in 2014, culminating with a victory in the $126,000 Evangeline Derby on December 20. She made two starts since her Merial win, finishing third in the Develop A Plan Stakes and seventh in the 250-yard Gentilly Dash at Fair Grounds.  Roberts expects a good effort from his mare on Saturday.

"We worked her a week ago at Lone Star and she is doing well," said her trainer. "Around the barn, she can be pretty high strung, but tends to business once she gets on the racetrack. I think she'll love the cool weather."

Rider Patrick Watson will have the return call, breaking from post position eight in the 400 yard final.

This will be the first starter for Verret, who resides in Opelousas, Louisiana. Roberts is the brother of leading Louisiana Quarter Horse trainer, Kenneth Roberts, Sr., who will saddle 17 juveniles in Friday night's trials for the $1 million LQHBA Breeders Futurity.

"I always try to help Kenny, but I'll be focusing on Cartels Fortune this weekend," said Roy.

Jim Byers To Announce His First Bank of America Challenge Championships: With Lone Star Park's announcer John Lies live at Del Mar in November, veteran race caller Jim Byers, will handle announcer duties for the final two weeks of the Lone Star Quarter Horse meet.  Byers is a respected name in the industry, having served as announcer at Remington Park until 1999 at which point he entered the world of sports broadcasting in Oklahoma City. He did the play-by-play for both baseball and hockey, but continued to follow both Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred racing.

Jim Byers will call Saturday's Bank of America
Challenge Championship races at Lone Star Park.

Byers stepped in as announcer at several tracks in recent years and has served as the very informative host of RaceView Network's "Weekend WrapUp" as well as their Bank of America Challenge Championship Preview show.  He has seen the regional qualifying winning races and looks forward to calling his first Bank of America Challenge Championships.

"I am really excited about this weekend," said Byers, who resides in Edmond, Oklahoma. "I have seen the replays of many of these nice horses, and look forward to seeing them in person. From the load in to the finish, it will be a great experience to call the Bank of America Challenge Championships."

Wrangler Racing Aces Headed to Lone Star Park Challenge Week: Denis Blake, Martha Claussen, John Hernandez and special guest, Jonathan Horowitz will be heading to Lone Star Park  Thursday, Friday and Saturday on behalf of the Wrangler Racing Aces.

On Thursday, November 5, Blake and Hernandez will co-host the live televised racing handicapping show at 5:30 p.m. They will offer their selections on the nine races on Thursday's card as well as a preview of the exciting stakes action set for Friday and Saturday evening.

Wrangler Racing Aces Martha Claussen and Jonathan Horowitz will join Lone Star's handicapper Rick Lee for his live televised racing preview show on Friday, November 6. They will discuss each of the ten races on Friday night, including the five AQHA Challenge undercard stakes.

On Saturday, November 7, all four Aces will be at Lone Star Park, greeting fans and providing valuable information and insights on the Bank of America Challenge Championships. In addition to appearing during live racing, the Wrangler Aces will appear at the state-of-the art sports book, the Bar & Book from 2-5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday afternoon. 

Visit the Q-Racing Aces page on Facebook or follow them @HorseRacingAces on Twitter to learn more about the upcoming Bank of America Challenge. Excellent videos, produced by RaceView Network, are posted with recaps of the regional winners heading to Texas for the Championships!

AQHA News and informaton is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqharacing.com.