SOLID HANDLE FOR OPENING WEEKEND OF THE 2022 SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK THOROUGHBRED MEET
Horseman Larry Stroope Passed Away on January 7
HOUSTON, TX – Sam Houston Race Park opened its 50-day live Thoroughbred season on Thursday, January 6, 2022 with a record opening night handle of $3.2 million.
“We were very pleased with our handle as our traditional opening nights have been on a Friday or Saturday,” said Frank Hopf, Assistant General Manager. “Our thanks to the horsemen and our loyal horseplayers for their enthusiastic support.”
Friday night’s handle totaled $2,234,868, but an intense thunderstorm on Saturday evening forced the cancelation of the final two races on the card.
Live racing continues Thursday, January 13 with a 4:00 pm (Central) post time. The 2022 Thoroughbred meet wraps on Saturday, April 9. A full schedule of post times and special racing events is posted on shrp.com.
Sam Houston Race Park Mourns the Passing of Trainer Larry Stroope
Thoroughbred trainer Larry Stroope died suddenly on Friday, January 7. The well-respected conditioner was a long time supporter of Texas racing and always prominent on Texas Champions Day. His stakes winners included Sylvia Baird’s Smiles Golden Song and Discreet Smile and Bonjour Baby, owned by Alvin Wong.
Jockey Sasha Risenhoover rode many horses for Stroope and, like so many in the Texas racing community, was devastated by his passing.
“I just can’t believe it,” she said. “I just worked horses for him last week. Larry and I made a great team; he was not only an excellent trainer, but had a heart of gold. He was always a supporter of female jockeys and riding Bonjour Baby meant so much to me.”
Memorial services for Stroope have not been announced
Impressive Start for Jockey Ry Eikleberry
It was an excellent opening weekend for rider Ry Eikleberry who won seven races over the first three days of the meet to top last year’s leading rider Stewart Elliott and veteran jockey Danny Sorenson, who each made three trips to the winner’s circle.
A native of Phoenix, Eikleberry was the leading rider at Turf Paradise in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before riding in New Mexico. Last year, he made the move to Louisiana and Texas to ride for trainer Karl Broberg and won 42 races at Sam Houston Race Park, finishing second in the standings to Stewart Elliott.
“Honestly, I had no idea I would do that well here last year,” explained Eikleberry. “I knew I had Karl’s business, but was pleasantly surprised that I got calls from a number of other trainers. Since I began riding (in 2005), there have been many ups and downs, but right now, it’s very good!”
From Houston, Eikleberry had a successful meet at Canterbury Park before heading back to Delta Downs. He suffered a fractured right wrist in a morning accident there, which did not require surgery, but kept him out of action for two months. Eikleberry turns 33 on January 11 and looks forward to a successful year ahead.
“I was told not to ride while it healed as further trauma would have required surgery,” he added. “I was in a cast for two months and am glad I took the necessary time off. It’s been a great start in Houston.”
Nominations for the Houston Racing Festival Close on Wednesday, January 19
The Houston Racing Festival with six stakes races offering over $1 million in purses, will take place on Sunday, January 30 with a 1:45 pm (Central) post time. The Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, now in its tenth running, anchors the Houston Racing Festival, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, $200,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile, $100,000 Pulse Power Turf Sprint, $75,000 Jersey Lilly Turf Stakes and $75,000 Stonerside Sprint.
Nominations for the Houston Racing Festival close on Wednesday, January 19.
About Sam Houston Race Park
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. Owned by Penn National Gaming. Inc., the racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions including a Suite Level featuring luxurious suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
Photo credit: Coady Photography