SBD/April 5, 2011/Events and Attractions

Texas Lawmaker Hopes To Create Horse Race With Largest U.S. Purse

Texas could be “home to a new premier horse race with one of the richest purses in the country in the next few years, if a state lawmaker has his way,” according to Anna Tinsley of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. A proposal by state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran “would create a national race -- to be known as the Texas Derby or the Texas Derby Open -- that would rotate among Texas' top racetracks as soon as 2015.” Hilderbran said, "We want to draw attention to Texas racing but also to Texas as a place to race horses. It could be the richest race in the country, something that probably will never be equaled." The bill proposes that the race “could rotate among Texas' three Class 1 racetracks: Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, Sam Houston Race Park and Retama Park in San Antonio.” The proposed Texas Derby would “offer a purse worth up” to $5M. Tinsley notes the world's “richest horse race” is the $10M Dubai World Cup, and in the U.S., the Breeders' Cup Classic offers a $5M purse. Hilderbran: “There is only one other race in the nation with this large of a purse, so that alone is going to bring in visitors and tourism dollars from all over the country." The bill, which is “still being fine-tuned, is expected to go before the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee within a couple of weeks” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/2).

OFF TO THE RACES: In Louisville, Gregory Hall reports Churchill Downs yesterday unveiled details for the entertainment at the track's “first-ever Opening Night, and for paddock concerts on Fridays early in the spring meet.” The April 30 opening of the 39-day meet “will be run under the lights for the first time in the 137-year history of the track.” The night “will feature social elements from Churchill's previous Downs After Dark nights, where DJs played with fans dressed in themed styles.” But instead of a theme “like disco night, the ‘Opening Night’ is pegged as a kickoff to Kentucky Derby week.” After Derby week, the track “will feature paddock-area concerts with regionally recognized acts on Fridays when racing begins at 2:45 p.m. and the last race runs around 8 p.m.” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/5).
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