Three Texas racetracks are negotiating to change a rule which, as of the first of the year, would turn over 10% of their out-of-state simulcasting fees to the state's breed organizations. A letter was sent by representatives of Lone Star Park, Retama Park, and Sam Houston Race Park to the racing commission asking to put discussion of the rule change on the agenda of a meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
The rule was adopted in 1997, but in an effort to help then-struggling Texas tracks get surer financial footing, they were permitted to petition exemption. All three tracks which signed the letter have been granted exemption and therefore have kept the revenue for the last three years. In 1999, those funds totaled about $1.1 million.
"The genesis of it was, they saw our racing industry in Texas was only going to be as strong as our racetracks," said Rob Werstler, executive director of the Texas Quarter Horse Association. "Now our racetracks are in good shape. It's run its course and now it's time for that to come back to the breed registries."
Werstler said he has not been actively involved in the negotiations to solve the issue, but has been in contact mainly with David Hooper, executive director of the Texas Thoroughbred Association. Bob Bork, general manager of Sam Houston, said the issue probably will remain on Wednesday's agenda, but an agreement probably will not be in place at that point.
"We work closely with the breed organizations," Bork said. "I'm sure we will come up with something."