04/29/2009 12:00AM

Track reopens with Quarter Horse meet


Sam Houston Race Park, which has not had live racing in close to nine months because of damage Hurricane Ike inflicted on its facilities last September, will open for a 54-date Quarter Horse meet on Friday night. The season will run through Aug. 29.

Sam Houston had to rebuild the roof of its grandstand because of the storm in a project that began in late January. The track also had to make repairs to its stable area, and replace its tote board system. Patrons returning for the 15th anniversary opener will be greeted with several improvements, among them a state-of-the-art LED video tote board. It is 19 feet high by 38 feet wide, and it will enable Sam Houston to increase its field size capabilities from 12 horses to 14.

In other changes, the track will roll out a 1 p.m. Central post on Saturdays as part of a new promotion tying together racing and the concert schedule at its 15,000-capacity infield concert venue.

"We have created special value packages available every Saturday from May through August that include tickets to live racing and our concert series along with food and drinks," said Andrea Young, president and chief operating officer of Sam Houston.

The first card of the meet features eight trial races for the Grade 1 Retama Park Futurity, which is being held at Sam Houston this year because the track is picking up the Quarter Horse dates from Retama in a one-year agreement made last summer. The meet also includes the Grade 1 Sam Houston Futurity on Aug. 28.