12/18/2012 4:12PM

Texas Racing Commission sets 2013 dates


The Texas Racing Commission on Tuesday approved a total of 109 live Thoroughbred dates among the state’s three major Thoroughbred tracks, roughly on par with the number of dates run at the tracks last year, according to commission officials.

The dates were approved at the last meeting of the commission for 2012, after tracks and breeding organizations submitted an agreement on how to split revenue from simulcasting among the various horse breeds in Texas. The parties were required to come to the agreement before the commission could approve the dates, according to a spokesperson for the commission, Bill Childs.

The agreement will provide Thoroughbreds with approximately 73 percent of the money from simulcasting and escrow funds provided by greyhound tracks, slightly down from the 75 percent the state breed registry received last year. Quarter Horses will receive roughly 25 percent of the funds, up two points from the prior agreement, with the rest split between Arabians and Paints.

Under the calendar approved on Tuesday, Texas racetracks will run in the milder months while taking a long break for the summer. Sam Houston Race Park in Houston will begin the year running four days a week, from Jan. 18 to March 17. Lone Star Park near Dallas will begin its Thoroughbred meet on April 11 and run through July 6, also running four days a week, although with some exceptions. After that, Thoroughbred racing will take a hiatus until Oct. 4, when Retama Park near San Antonio begins its meet, running on Fridays and Saturdays until the end of the year.

Also at the meeting, the commission approved a deal that will allow Pinnacle Entertainment, a casino company that also owns River Downs in Cincinnati, to purchase a 75.5 percent stake in Retama Park for $22.8 million. Pinnacle is expected to lobby aggressively for legislation that would authorize slot machines and other casino games at the property, along with other Texas tracks.

Racetracks have tried unsuccessfully to garner support for casinos at their facilities for the past decade in Texas, with no success. All three racetracks in Texas are owned wholly or in part by companies that operate casinos in other jurisdictions.