Sam Houston Race Park will kick off its 23rd live racing season on Friday, January 15. The 2016 live racing schedule has been approved by the Texas Racing Commission and begins with the 32-day Thoroughbred meet.
The 2016 Thoroughbred Stake Schedule will offer nearly $1.8 million in purses, and starts with Texas Champions Weekend, featuring the best Texas-breds competing over two days in seven divisions. Friday, January 22 will feature the fillies and mares in three stakes ($50,000 San Jacinto Turf Stakes, $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes and $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes). Saturday will feature the boys in four stakes races ($50,000 Star of Texas Stakes, $50,000 Richard King Turf Stakes, $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes and the $50,000 Groovy Stakes).
“We made a few changes this year to the stakes schedule, including some of the race distances, in an effort to attract more graded stake winners to some of our premier races,” says Sam Houston Race Park President Andréa B. Young.
Young confirmed that the Houston Racing Festival will return for its fourth running on Saturday, January 30. The richest day in Texas Thoroughbred racing will feature four stakes, including the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the Grade 3 $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, which will now be run at 1 1/2 miles, the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint and the $50,000 Space City Stakes. Proceeds from the Houston Racing Festival will once again benefit the Houston affiliate of the Susan G. Komen foundation.
Stakes races will continue every weekend during the remainder of meet with the Sam Houston Sprint Cup, Houston Distaff, and Houston Turf Stakes on February 13 and the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series on February 20 featuring the $75,000 Two Altazano Stakes and the $75,000 Jim’s Orbit Stakes. The Maxxam Gold Cup Racing Festival will take place February 27 and will feature the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup, the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Turf Stakes, the $50,000 Bucharest Turf Sprint, and the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes.
“Our goal for 2015 was to continue to improve the quality of our live racing,” said Young. “We feel our efforts have paid off as several of our past stakes winners have gone on to showcase their talent on the national racing scene. We look forward to raising the bar even higher in 2016.”
“We continue to receive high marks from both horsemen and horseplayers for our Thoroughbred meet,” added Young. “Trainers praise the safety of our main track surface and regard the Connally Turf course as one of the best in the country. All while our racing fans enjoy our full fields and low take-out rates.”
Friday and Saturday post times for the 2016 Thoroughbred Meet will be 7 pm and 6 pm, respectively. The fun tradition of lunch-time racing at The Park will continue every Monday and Tuesday afternoon with a 1 pm post time.