McNair Among Honorees at TTA Awards Banquet

Robert McNair, owner of Stonerside Stable and the NFL's Houston Texans, was among the honorees at the Texas Thoroughbred Association's annual awards banquet held on January 17 at Sam Houston Race Park.

Hosted by racing personality Chris Lincoln, who was making his 12th appearance at the event, the banquet also featured a rousing keynote address by Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Strayhorn pointed out the financial benefits of legalizing video lottery terminals (VLTs) at Texas tracks and stated that "a billion dollars a year is being sucked out of our Texas classrooms into other states," referring to racinos in bordering New Mexico and Louisiana that are patronized primarily by Texans. She said the revenue generated by VLTs at Texas tracks would bring in much needed funds to improve the state's education system and revitalize the racing industry.

"We need new economic engines in this state," she said. "In 1987, Texans gave their approval both in statewide and local elections for pari-mutuel wagering, and today over 16 years later, I say it's way past time for us to make this work and it's time now to realize Texas' racing potential and video lottery is the way to do it."

VLTs at tracks is one option being examined to relieve the financial crunch in Texas, especially for education.

Following are the 2003 Texas Thoroughbred Association award winners:

Allen Bogan Memorial Award: Robert McNair

Bob McNair was awarded the Allen Bogan Memorial Award for outstanding service to the Texas racing industry in 2003. McNair, with his wife, Janice, are two of the most respected owners in Thoroughbred racing and their Stonerside Stable LLC has bred and campaigned some of the sport's top runners, including Eclipse Award candidate Congaree. The McNair's Texas breeding program, located in Hempstead, is developing a growing list of success stories. Stonerside became the first breeder in recent Texas racing history to be represented by four Texas-bred stakes winners in a calendar year thanks to Native Annie, Catalissa, Expectacat and Lx Commander in 2003.

In addition to his involvement in racing, McNair paid a record $700 million expansion fee in 1999 to bring an NFL franchise back to Houston, where he is one of the city's most admired philanthropists and supporters of educational programs.

McNair's significant financial contribution helped fund a report by the Perryman Group entitled "The Impact of Horse and Greyhound Racing on Business Activity in Texas: An Analysis Encompassing the Effects of Permitting Video Lottery Terminals at Licensed Track Facilities with Emphasis on the Contributions to Agriculture and Rural Development."

The Perryman Report is having a major impact on the efforts to legalize VLTs at Texas tracks, which will create a financial boon to the state's racing industry.

Formerly the "TTA Member of the Year Award," this trophy was renamed in 1997 to honor a racing legend <= texas="" turf="" writer="" allen="" bogan.="">

Joseph R. Straus Sr. Award: Brian Wallis

TTA member Brain Wallis of Decatur received the Joseph R. Straus Sr. Award for member recruitment by signing up 17 new TTA members during 2003.

Joseph Straus Sr. was a longtime TTA member, owner, breeder of 24 stakes horses and a leading figure in the effort to legalize pari-mutuel racing in Texas during the 1980s.

Leading ATB Owner/Breeder Award: Patricia Norman and the Estate of Robert Norman

The Accredited Texas-Bred (ATB) Program Award is given annually to the owner/breeder who has the highest total award monies from TTA's incentive awards program during the preceding calendar year. Receiving the trophy for the fourth consecutive year with awards of more than $111,000 was Patricia Norman of Tyler, who bred and raced horses in partnership with her late husband, Robert. Among the horses bred by the Normans is Eagle Lake, who became the first Texas-bred to a win a graded stakes in her home state when she took the 2003 WinStar Distaff (gr. III) at Lone Star Park.

Texas Breeders of the Year Award: Eileen Hartis

Annually sponsored and presented by The Blood-Horse, this award is given to the individual or farm whose Texas-bred runner earned the most money during the preceding calendar year. The 2003 Breeder of the Year Award was presented to Eileen Hartis of Sealy, who bred 2003 Texas Horse of the Year and Champion Older Filly/Mare Got Koko, a daughter of Signal Tap who in 2003 won three graded stakes, placed third in the Breeders' Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel (gr. I) and banked $688,000.

Leading Freshman Sire Award: Holzmeiter

Annually sponsored and presented by Thoroughbred Times, this award is given to the connections of the Texas-based stallion whose first crop of runners has the highest cumulative total earnings during the preceding calendar year. The 2003 Leading Freshman Sire Award went to Holzmeister, a Woodman stallion standing at Q6 Ranch in Belton as property of Adena Springs, Stonerside Stable and Ro Parra. In his first crop, Holzmeister sired six winners and the earners of $174,958.