Houston, Texas furniture store owner Jim McIngvale has pulled his sponsorship of the Texan Juvenile Stakes -- and taken with it the expected purse of $550,000 -- because of the controversy over his plan to restrict the race to horses ridden by female jockeys. The race for 2-year-olds still will be a part of Texas Champions Day Dec. 2 at Sam Houston Race Park, but the purse will be $150,000.
McIngvale, commonly known as "Mattress Mac," said he wanted to use female jockeys in part because his customer base is made up of a high percentage of women.
"The comment was made to me from people at the track that anybody with a good horse would not run with female-only jockeys," McIngvale said. "My answer to that was, 'Why in the hell do they put female riders on them in the morning (for workouts?)' "
Martha Claussen, the spokeswoman for the track, did not address the issue of only having female jockeys in the race.
"We just couldn't get everyone to agree on some of the details," Claussen said. "It's unfortunate. But we'll still have all the races that everyone associates with Texas Champions Day on Dec. 2."
McIngvale's involvement in horse racing hasn't been dull. He bought several high-priced yearlings at Keeneland in the mid-1990s and had them placed with trainer Nick Zito. But he became displeased with their performances and pulled them before enlisting his sister-in-law as trainer.
McIngvale also displayed some of his horses -- including Keeneland and Fair Grounds stakes winner Some Actor -- in the showroom of his Gallery Furniture store in Houston.
McIngvale also has sponsored the Gallery Furniture.com Stakes at Turfway Park in 1999. The race previously was known as the Jim Beam Stakes, and now is called the Spiral Stakes.