Sam Houston Race Park



sam-houstonRacing Dates: January – March 
Max Per Race Payout: US$ 5,000
Main track (dirt): 1 mile, oval
Length of stretch from last turn to finish line: 955 ft
Width of track: 90 ft
Composition: 85% sand and 15% silt/clay
Turf: 7 furlongs
Width of track: 80 ft
Turf composition: Bermuda grass grown in washed sand

This jewel of Texas horse racing opened in Houston in 1994 as the first Class 1 venue in the state, but business hasn’t been great in recent years. Since gambling is illegal in Texas, racinos and slot machines can’t exactly rake in revenues for their associated tracks. However, in a bold move to keep purses from shrinking, Texas horse lovers and other interested parties responded by forming “Let Texans Decide,” a coalition pushing for a referendum to amend the state constitution and allow organized gambling.

Sam Houston (owned by Penn National Gaming) continues to hold a thoroughbred meet from January to March and an American quarter horse meet from March to May. There is one graded stakes for thoroughbreds: the Grade 3 $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (9 furlongs, 4-year-olds and up), run on Sam Houston’s vaunted 7 furlong Connally Turf course.

However, The Connally Turf Cup isn’t actually the park’s richest race. Sam Houston’s $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic (8.5 furlongs, 4-year-olds and up) is considered the richest stakes race in the state of Texas. You’ll see fillies and mares running 1 1/16 miles over the well-known main track at Sam Houston at the Ladies Classic.