Sam Houston Race Park won’t see racing for time being

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HOUSTON - The reins have been pulled in on horse racing at Sam Houston Race Park, as well as all Texas tracks. at least for now.

But with no more horse racing, it's much more than just an inconvenience for those who go see the races.

"We're talking about 36,000 jobs here. These are real Texans, real people, our employees are real people, the horsemen of the state are real people, they have mortgages, they have daycare, they have all the normal things," explained Andrea Young, President of Sam Houston Race Park.

Those affected include trainers, stable hands, and veterinarians across the state.

On Monday, the State Legislative Budget Board refused to release $1.5 million in administrative funds to the racing commission, effectively halting all racing.

With that funding, which is about 10 percent of the commissions budget, staff and rent can't be paid.

At the center of the dispute, parimutuel betting, a new technology, not even in use yet ,they're talking about "historical racing", where players can use machines to place bets.

"It's not a slot machine, it's a parimutuel wager on a horse race. It's not a realistic issue today, it's tied up in the courts. It would be years before Sam Houston would even contemplate having historical racing," added Young.

But the worry is very real to people who depend on their jobs at the park.

Jaime Hill is an accountant at the park, "Immediately you start thinking, what do I do? How do I pay my bills? How am I going to put a roof over my head, how do I feed myself? How do I pay my car note? It's that immediate sense of terror."

And of course spectators are disappointed.

David Norris said, "Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont every year. We come here, we stay the whole day, we have fun. It's a good family environment."

For the time being, until a resolution is reached, the seats at Sam Houston Race Park will remain empty, and the track, silent.