Texas to Take Applications on Track Construction

At the request of owner and breeder Keith Asmussen, the Texas Racing Commission on June 27 voted to take applications to construct a Class 2 or Class 3 track in the Laredo area. The Asmussens, in partnership with Sam Houston Race Park, hope to convert their El Primero Training Center into a racetrack and simulcasting facility.

The commission will take applications from Sept. 1-Oct. 30. A decision on the track isn't expected until early 2002, said Jean Cook, director of administration for the racing commission.

Cook said a Class 2 track is guaranteed 60 live days of racing, but can request an increase or decrease in dates. A Class 3 track is limited to 16 live racing days. Both must offer Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing.

The Asmussen's plan relies on funds from the family or private investors. More than $6 million already has been spent on the El Primero Training Center, with an additional $4 million needed to expand the racing surface to the seven-furlong length required by the state, and for construction of a grandstand and simulcasting center.

Lone Star Park originally agreed to work with the Asmussens but pulled out of the deal to concentrate on a similar deal with the proposed Saddle Brook Park in Amarillo.

Amarillo businessman Drew Alexander has proposed building Saddle Brook Park about two miles west of the northwest Texas city. The project would include a seven-furlong track with a six-furlong backstretch chute and a 550-yard Quarter Horse chute.

The commission will consider the Saddle Brook Park request at its next meeting.