07/06/2010 11:00PM

Retama gets approval for shorter meet


The Texas Racing Commission on Wednesday approved Retama Park's request to reduce its upcoming Thoroughbred meet from 30 nights of racing to 16. The season will begin a week later than originally scheduled, on Sept. 3, and run through Oct. 23.

Retama was originally scheduled to race from Aug. 27 through Nov. 6.

Retama will race every Friday and Saturday, nights officials have said account for the track's highest handle figures. Bryan Brown, chief executive officer of Retama, said last month that the reduction of dates will enable the track to maintain its previous purse structure of about $80,000 a day. Retama's premiere stakes, the El Joven and La Senorita for 2-year-olds at a mile on turf, will both be run Oct. 23. The other stakes on the schedule will be a pair of $100,000 divisions of the Texas Stallion Stakes for 2-year-olds on Sept. 25.

At the same racing commission meeting, Howard Phillips, chief executive officer of Manor Downs in Austin, informed commissioners that there is a possibility the track will close down on July 25. Manor operates a spring mixed meet for Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, with its 2010 season having run from March 6 to April 18. There is also simulcasting at Manor.

Texas racing has been hit by hard times, with handle in the state dropping from $700 million in 2005 to approximately $450 million in 2009. For the past several months, there have been ongoing discussions between the tracks and horsemen to consolidate the racing calendar for 2011. The commission is expected to hear dates requests for next year at its meeting in September.