10/07/2008 11:00PM

Storm damage jeopardizes Sam Houston meet


Sam Houston Race Park in Houston is scheduled to open its Thoroughbred meet Nov. 28, but with damage from Hurricane Ike worse than first thought, the season could be in jeopardy. Officials said high winds have left significant damage to the grandstand roof, as well as structural damage to some barns.

"We're going to do everything possible that we can do to run, but we have not made a decision," said Andrea Young, chief operating officer of Sam Houston.

The meet is scheduled to end April 4.

Young said some dorm rooms, located above the stables, have roof damage, and there is water damage to some tack rooms. She said Sam Houston also lost its tote board in the storm, as well as track surface material.

Young said she could not comment on the cost of the damages, which are still being assessed. Parts of Houston were without electricity for up to two weeks following Ike, which made landfall in Galveston, Tex., on Sept. 13.

"We're still getting damage assessment," she said. "Engineers are on the property today and through the end of the week, if not longer. It's hard. There's a lot of demand for those types of resources in this part of the country."

There is not yet an alternative plan for the meet in place, but state leaders will discuss one Tuesday. Young said she will look for direction from horsemen, some of whom have suggested adding some of the dates to the current Retama Park meet. Bryan Brown, chief executive officer of Retama, and Tommy Azopardi, the executive director of the Texas Horsemen's Partnership, did not return calls Wednesday seeking comment.

"If Sam Houston can't open, we'll look at adding more days to the start of our Thoroughbred meet," said Drew Shubeck, president of Lone Star Park.