Local racetrack offers an array of entertainment
For truly exciting entertainment, Houstonians flock to the races at Sam Houston Race Park. Since April 29, 1994, the park has featured first-class live thoroughbred, Arabian and American quarter horse racing, offering a truly unique experience. Texas only has one casino (Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass), but many come to the race park to wager on their favorite horses.
A horse, of course
To those new to horse racing, the breeds of race horse can be a bit confusing. Thoroughbred horses are a light (in weight) horse, also known as the English running horse. The first pedigreed horse, thoroughbreds originated in England. They can run just under 40 miles per hour for a mile, making them one of the fastest horses and the undisputed king of race horses. At more than 16 hands tall (that’s 64 inches) and 1,100 pounds, they are pure beauties on the race track.
The American quarter horse earned its name in the quarter-mile races. In a short competition, the quarter horse is faster than the thoroughbred due to its ability to spring into a full-speed run. In addition to quarter-mile racing, quarter horses are used, almost exclusively, in cutting, roping and barrel racing at rodeos. These beauties stand 15-16 hands tall (that’s 60-64 inches), weighing 1,000 pounds with thick muscular shoulders and short necks.
Arabian horses were most likely the first true domesticated breed. Arabians are prized for their beauty, speed and stamina, and are often used as parental stock for American saddle horses, quarter horses, standardbred horses and thoroughbreds. Averaging 14-15 hands tall (that’s 56-60 inches) and 1,000 pounds, these graceful beauties often sport a bay coat with white markings.
Sam Houston Race Park offers entertainment at a very affordable price. Admission is only $1 for seniors, free to children 12 and younger and $3 for general admission and simulcast admission. The large park can accommodate 18,000 fans and is available for catered and private events. The park features three levels of seating, ranging from the paddock to luxury suites and press boxes. Simulcast wagering is available 364 days a year, allowing Houstonians to wager on races around the world. The track offers 1,200 TV monitors!
The wagering kind
For those new to horse racing, there are many kinds of wagers you can put on a race. The “Win” wager, in which you bet that your horse will win first, is the most obvious wager most beginners know about. In the “Place” wager, you wager that your horse will finish first or second. The most conservative wager, and also one of the smallest yields, is the “Show” wager. In this bet, you win if your horse finishes first, second or third. “Across the Board” or “Combination” wagers are a combination of all three. To win, your horse must win, place or show. The “Daily Double” bet has you select the winners of the first two races. This bet must be placed before the first race begins.
In a “Quinella” you place a $2 wager that two particular horses will finish first and second. It doesn’t matter which horse finishes first or which finishes second. In an “Exacta” bet, you pick the first and second place winners of the race. They must finish in that exact order for you to win. The “Trifecta” wager goes even further. You pick the first three horses to cross the finish line. “Superfecta” bets call for you to select the first four horses in a given race. There are many variations of bets and other types, but these are a few to get you started.
For information on schedules and driving directions, visit www.shrp.com.