06/29/2011 4:28PM

Retama starting three-tiered season


Retama Park on Friday night will launch a three-tiered meet that runs through Oct. 15. The first leg is a 10-date season for Quarter Horses, through July 28. There will then be 14 dates of mixed racing, from July 29-Aug. 27. Retama then moves into 21 days of Thoroughbred racing starting Sept. 1.

Retama is racing Quarter Horses for the first time since 2008, after its last two Quarter Horse meets were run at Sam Houston. Purses are projected to average about $60,000 a program, and horsemen have been supportive.

“I have 1,300 sets of Quarter Horse [foal] papers, and I think the last time we ran a Quarter Horse meet I never had over 600, 700 papers,” said James Leatherman, racing secretary at Retama. “We had approximately 170 horses enter for opening day.”

The 10-race card is led by the $20,000 Selma for fillies and mares at 350 yards. Trainer John Buchanan, who has a division at Retama, will send out leading contender Speeding.

There will be 23 stakes for Quarter Horses through Aug. 27, chief among them the TQHA Sales Futurity on July 30. A restricted Grade 1, the race last year was worth about $400,000.

New this meet is a 50-cent minimum on the pick three, said Bryan Brown, chief executive officer of Retama. The bet had been a $1 minimum. It also will feature its traditional reduced takeout of 12 percent, said Brown.

Nominations for the $75,000 El Joven and $75,000 La Senorita, which are one-mile turf races for 2-year-olds at Retama on Oct. 15, close Friday.