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NTRA NOTES

Contact: Peggy Hendershot (859) 422-2648

SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK TO HOST 2002 GREAT STATE CHALLENGE

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that Sam Houston Race Park, in Houston, Texas, has been selected to host the inaugural six-race, $1.5 million Great State Challenge. The championship-style event, featuring top Thoroughbreds representing several states, will be run for the first time in 2002, with an early December date to be finalized shortly.

John Deere is the presenting sponsor of the Great State Challenge as part of a new strategic marketing alliance that includes title sponsorship of the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf - now known as the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf - and of the associated divisional turf races that lead up to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. (See separate release.)

"Sam Houston Race Park offers first-rate accommodations for horsemen and fans, a dynamic sports marketplace and has enlisted the local community and the Texas horseracing industry in supporting the Challenge, which will help to ensure the event's success," said NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith. "The Challenge and the associated state-bred racing festivals that link to it afford John Deere excellent opportunities for marketing in key regions. This is a winning combination for the NTRA, its member organizations and marketing partners."

"Sam Houston Race Park is thrilled to host the inaugural running of the Great State Challenge," said Robert L. Bork, the track's senior vice president and general manager. "This is a great opportunity to develop new fans for the city of Houston and the NTRA."

Modeled on the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, the Challenge races are limited to horses from jurisdictions where the official state horsemen's association is an NTRA member. The top eight NTRA-member horsemen's associations - California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Texas, based on current dues - are guaranteed one horse in each race. The state with the overall best performance in the Challenge will receive a trophy. Points will be allocated for each race, with the NTRA State Challenge Champion being the top point-holder.

The NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited will fund a guaranteed purse of $150,000 for each race, plus $50,000 in purses for Breeders' Cup-nominated horses. An additional $50,000 comes from each participating state's breeders' fund, to be paid to each individual state-bred horse that finishes in an awarded position, making each race worth a total of $250,000.

The races are:

  • NTRA Great State Challenge Juvenile Fillies, 7 furlongs on the dirt for two-year-olds (fillies)
  • NTRA Great State Challenge Juvenile, 7 furlongs on the dirt for two-year-olds
  • NTRA Great State Challenge Sprint, 6 furlongs on the dirt for three-year-olds and older
  • NTRA Great State Challenge Turf, 9 furlongs on the turf for three-year-olds and older
  • NTRA Great State Challenge Distaff, 8.5 furlongs on the dirt for three-year-olds and older (fillies and mares)
  • NTRA Great State Challenge Classic, 9 furlongs on the dirt for three-year-olds and older

A steering committee consisting of state breeder organizations, horsemen's groups and racetracks will meet next January and regularly throughout the year to discuss the Great State Challenge.

The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horseracing interests, including the American Quarter Horse Association, charged with increasing popularity of horseracing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA and Breeders' Cup Limited also conduct the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Thoroughbred racing's year-end Championships consisting of eight races and $13 million in purses and awards, and the Breeders' Cup Stakes Program, both of which are funded by the industry's owners and breeders. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. NTRA press releases appear on the NTRA Web site, www.ntra.com, and at the Web site for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, breederscup.com. Contact the NTRA at ntra@ntra.com.

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