(Edited press release)
Sam Houston Race Park will cancel its 2008/2009 fall Thoroughbred meet due to damages sustained by the facility as a result of Hurricane Ike. The storm’s high winds and rainfall caused significant damage throughout the property including the facility’s grandstands, stable areas and the large infield tote board.
“We are extremely disappointed,” said Andrea Young, chief operating officer, Sam Houston Race Park. “We have worked hard to find a solution and meet the deadlines in order to race this year, however; with the timeline for construction, it wasn’t a realistic option.”
The park’s 65-day Thoroughbred meet was scheduled for Nov. 28 through April 4, 2009. Sam Houston will re-popen for live racing events on May 1, 2009, for the 16th American Quarter Horse meet. Later that weekend, the track will host its annual Kentucky Derby festivities.
“We look forward to returning to live racing in the spring. We will return even bigger and better,” Young stated.
Over the next several months, the park will make significant repairs to the roof of the grandstand, a project that will take approximately three to four months to complete. Repairs to the roof will make both the suite and club levels unusable by the public during any period of construction
“We feel we can create a safe environment for simulcasting on our Paddock level while construction is underway,” Young said.
The park will also rebuild portions of the stable and barn area, including dorm and tack rooms, as well as replace the tote board.
“We have worked for several weeks with some of the best experts in the country to evaluate the complete scope of damages and explore options for construction while keeping the park operational. We will keep the safety of our staff and patrons at the forefront of all decisions during this period,” said Young.
Currently, the park plans to maintain regular hours of operations, 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily, for simulcasting events during the construction period.
Sam Houston Race Park officials are working with Texas tracks and horsemen to accommodate the loss of race dates.
“At this time, we are talking with industry leaders regarding the possible movement of some or all of our Thoroughbred racing dates," Young said. "There has been progress, however; but no final decisions have been made." Any changes regarding Texas race dates are subject to the approval of the Texas Racing Commission.
Hurricane Ike slammed into the Texas Gulf Coast on Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. The hurricane forced Sam Houston to end the 2008 American Quarter Horse meet one week early and suspend simulcast operations for more than a week.