07/01/2010 11:00PM

Texas tracks discuss dates


More than 100 horsemen attended a meeting at Lone Star Park on Thursday to listen to the management of the state's three major tracks outline a proposal to consolidate Thoroughbred dates in Texas for 2011 in the face of declining handle.

Under the plan, Lone Star would run a 60-date meet from the second week in April to the third week in July, with average daily purses of $230,000. The proposal would call for the transfer of some purse funds from Retama Park and Sam Houston, which could have some limited Thoroughbred opportunities next year in plans that are still fluid. Under the most discussed plan, Retama would conduct a 24-date mixed meet in 2011.

"What we were proposing was something that would prop up Texas racing as best we could with the amount of purse dollars that were available," said Drew Shubeck, president of Lone Star.

Another informational meeting was held Friday at Sam Houston.

Horsemen have not yet endorsed a proposal. Any calendar changes will need final approval from the Texas Racing Commission, which could hear dates requests from the tracks at a meeting in September.

Handle in Texas has dropped from $700 million in 2005 to about $450 million in 2009. Meanwhile, with gaming supplementing purses in other states, Texas, which accounted for 23 percent of purses in the region in 2003, saw that number drop to 14 percent in 2008.

Shubeck said he thought Thursday's meeting went well.

"Some people spoke from the heart, that they were not against the plan, but they needed something else for them," he said. "I think they understood where the racetracks were coming from, that we need more revenue to survive, that to have more revenue coming in, we need to change up the program right now."

Trainer Danny Pish operates one of the largest stables in Texas.

"I think that desperate times call for desperate measures," he said of the ongoing dates discussions. "There's no idea that's going to help everybody, and so something's going to happen, and it's due to the times we're in."

Cape San Blas favored at Louisiana

Cape San Blas looks like a solid favorite Sunday in the third race at Louisiana Downs, a $25,000 optional claimer with second-level allowance conditions. The race will be run over 6 1/2 furlongs.

Cape San Blas was second at a similar distance in his last start, when he was beaten a head by Sligo Joe in a seven-furlong race June 10. Sligo Joe was expected to run back Saturday in the $50,000 Barksdale at Louisiana Downs, and Cape San Blas will bring the best last-race and career Beyer Figure, a 97, into the feature Sunday.

* The charity doubleheader softball game between the Lone Star jockey colony and members of the track's staff has been rescheduled for Tuesday, July 6. It was rained out last week. The suggested donation to attend the game, which will be held at the ballpark adjacent to Lone Star, is $5. All proceeds are tabbed for the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund.