Get in the Game

Ever thought about owning and racing your own Texas Thoroughbred? Now's the time.

Conditions have never been better. Photo courtesy of Texas Thoroughbred Association

If you are a fan of Thoroughbred horse racing at Houston’s Sam Houston Race Park, no doubt you’re excited about the new season of live racing that opens on January 6.

But here’s something you may or may not have ever considered: owning and racing a Texas-bred Thoroughbred.

If you’ve ever pondered the potential or fantasized about the possibilities of getting involved with Texas horse racing, the conditions haven't been this inviting or favorable in many years.

For the first time in nearly two decades, Texas horse racing is moving in a positive direction, and everything indicates a continuation of that progress. Last year, even as the nation grappled with the harsh and sometimes deadly consequences of the COVID pandemic, Texas horse racing showed signs of resilience.

Even as racetracks limited their dates and crowds, the comeback began. Texas racetracks paid $31,052,099 in purses in 2020, according to the annual report by the state racing commission.

For the 89 days of Thoroughbred racing in the state, purses averaged $195,967, which represents a 42-percent increase from 2019, when Thoroughbred purses averaged a mere $137,681. But this was only the beginning.

The purse increase was largely due to House Bill 2463. Passed in 2019, it amended the tax code to require the deposit of state taxes collected on the sale of feed, supplements, and tack into a Horse Industry Escrow Account, capped at $50 million for the biennium. This supplementary source of funds added $17.5 million to purses in 2020, and the purses are still growing.

In 2021, Sam Houston Race Park enjoyed what was arguably the best season in its history. For its 43-day Thoroughbred meeting that concluded on April 3, the Houston racetrack paid $12.6 million in purses, or a record $293,000 a day.

The high purses attracted Letruska, who won the Houston Ladies Classic on her way to what will almost certainly be an Eclipse Award as the nation’s top older female. And all-sources handle increased more than 28 percent, to $2,242,807 a day.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at and inside information on owning and racing a Texas-bred Thoroughbred on January 6, opening night at Sam Houston Race Park.

Join Houston radio personality and horse racing handicapper Fred Faour and former Houston Oiler/Dallas Cowboy NFL star — and now racehorse owner — Mike Renfro for a special owner-preview event. Meet trainers and racehorse owners for valuable information about “getting in the game.”

Space is limited, so RSVP at www.TxRaceHorse.com.

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Building Houston

 
 

Catch up on two big pieces of news landing at the Houston Spaceport. Image via fly2houston.com

The Space City is starting 2022 off strong with news launching out of the Houston Spaceport — a TK-acre space in TK Houston.

The two big headlines include a unicorn company releasing the latest details of its earthbound project and fresh funds from the state to support the space ecosystem in Texas.

Governor Abbott doles out $10M in spaceport grants

Texas has launched fresh funding into two spaceport projects. Image via fly2houston.com

Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott announced $10 million in funding to two Texas spaceports as a part of the state's Spaceport Trust Fund. The Houston Spaceport Development Corp. received $5 million and the Cameron County Spaceport Development Corp. received $5 million.

The fund is administered by the Governor's Office of Economic Development and Tourism and was created to support the development of spaceport infrastructure, create quality jobs, and attract continuing investments that will strengthen the economic future of the state, according to a news release.

"For decades, Texas has been a trailblazer in space technology and we are proud to help cultivate more innovation and development in this growing industry in Cameron and Harris County," says Abbott in the release. "This investment in the Cameron County and Houston Spaceport Development Corporations will create even more economic opportunities for Texans across the state and continue our legacy as a leader in space technology."

Axiom Space hires Dallas-based architecture and engineering firm

Axiom Space has made progress on developing its 14-acre headquarters. Image via axiomspace.com

Houston-based unicorn Axiom Space has announced that it awarded Dallas-based Jacobs the architecture and engineering phase one design contract. The firm will be working on the 100,000-square-foot facility planned for the 400-acre Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport.

Axiom Space's plans are ro build the first commercial space station that will provide a central hub for research, to support microgravity experiments, manufacturing, and commerce in low Earth orbit missions, according to a news release.

"This is an exciting and historic moment for Axiom and the greater Houston area," says Axiom CTO Matt Ondler in the release. "For the first time, spacecraft will be built and outfitted right here in Houston, Texas. This facility will provide us with the infrastructure necessary to scale up operations and bring more aerospace jobs to the area. With this new facility, we are not only building next generation spacecraft, but also solidifying Houston as the U.S. commercial industry's gateway to space."

Axiom Space, which raised $130M in venture capital last year, is building out its 14-acre headquarters to accommodate the creation of more than 1,000 high-paying jobs, from engineers to scientists, mathematicians, and machinists.

"Houston is a city built on innovation and is becoming a next-generation tech hub in the United States," says Ron Williams, senior vice president at Jacobs. "Privately funded infrastructure will drive U.S. leadership in space. Jacobs is committed to providing integrated solutions to accelerate the future of commercial space operations."

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