Search Results for: texas


Earlier this year (February 9 and 13), Horse Racing Business ran two posts on the unfavorable state government-imposed environment for racetracks in Texas (click here for reference.)   For example, Texas prohibits wagering via the Internet/telephone and pari-mutuel wagering on historical races.

Given Texas’ well-deserved reputation for fostering business and entrepreneurship, I thought the forgoing bans were uncharacteristic for the Lone Star state.  I changed my mind when I read about Wal-Mart’s current lawsuit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Texas has a 1995 law that restricts hard alcohol (excludes beer and wine) sales to stand-alone stores owned by private companies holding state-issued liquor licenses.  Further, under a 1977 Texas law, a private company cannot own more than five store permits, with the huge exception that the principal owner can buy additional permits from a “first-degree” blood relative.  In other words, closely related family members can own an unlimited number of permits and stores.

In Texas, public companies (defined as firms with more than 35 stockholders) like Wal-Mart are confined to selling beer and wine.  Texas is the sole state to permit private companies to sell hard alcohol but not public companies.

In addition to Wal-Mart’s lawsuit, the corporation has joined Kroger and a number of other public companies and groups in seeking legislative relief.

The view here is that, while Texas generally offers a “can do” climate for doing business, the state nonetheless has laws and attitudes that are remnants of an insular culture intended to protect small business from the “predatory” Wal-Mart’s of the world.  The same lingering culture explains the legislature’s paternalistic stance towards its citizenry when it comes to such putative temptations as advanced deposit wagering and betting on historical races.

Copyright © 2015 Horse Racing Business


Midland, Texas has been home to some of the most notable people in both the Lone Star state and globally, including two presidents of the United States, George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush, and 4-star General Tommy Franks.  Several successful racehorse owners have Midland connections as well–for example, Ralph Lowe (Gallant Man) and Barry Beal and Robert French (Capote and Landaluce).  The name Scharbauer has been prominent in Midland for over 125 years…in ranching, oil, banking, and horses, especially a horse called Alysheba.

In 1959, Midland wildcatter and racehorse owner Fred Turner won the Kentucky Derby with Tomy Lee, ridden by Bill Shoemaker and conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Frank Childs.  A quarter of a century later, Turner’s daughter Dorothy, wife to Clarence Scharbauer Jr., decided that she wanted to try to repeat the thrill she and Clarence experienced at Churchill Downs when her father’s horse won the Kentucky Derby.  Author Jimmy Patterson (not to be confused with the novelist James Patterson) has masterfully chronicled the chain of events that ended with Dorothy achieving her goal.

Award-winning author Patterson, whose previous books include “The Story of Midland Texas” (2014), had the cooperation and first-hand accounts of three of the key players in the Alysheba story: Preston Madden, the colt’s breeder; Jack Van Berg, Hall of Fame trainer; and Chris McCarron, Hall of Fame jockey. Clarence and Dorothy Scharbauer are deceased, as is their daughter Pamela Scharbauer, who co-owned Alysheba with her mother.

Alysheba’s path to racing fame began when the Scharbauer’s purchased him in 1985 for $500,000 (equivalent to about $1.4 million in 2022) at the Keeneland yearling sale and culminated with the colt winning the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic.  He retired with earnings of $6,679,242 (equal to $16.5 million in 2022) from 26 lifetime starts, in which he had a record of 11 wins, 8 seconds, and 2 thirds. 

Alysheba’s winning run in the 1987 Kentucky Derby came close to ending in tragedy. About a sixteenth of a mile from the finish line, Alysheba was running second and clipped heels with the leader Bet Twice and nearly fell.  McCarron was able to steady the colt, who somehow recovered and courageously rallied to pass Bet Twice.  A pileup of horses had been averted and Alysheba was on his way to a storied career. Besides being in American racing’s Hall of Fame, he is number 46 on Bloodhorse magazine’s list of the 100 best American racehorses of the twentieth century.

“The Glorious Run of Alysheba” is 112 pages in length, is very well researched, and the presentation flows smoothly. Racing fans who remember watching Alysheba can enjoy revisiting his exploits and fans without that recollection can learn about a remarkable racehorse and fan favorite.

Copyright © 2022 Horse Racing Business


When quarterbacks Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills and Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns led their teams to places in the 2020/2021 National Football League playoffs, it reminded me again about how exceptional athletes, human or equine, are often overlooked early-on by talent evaluators with a reputation for expertise.

Josh Allen in high school sent approximately 1,000 emails to college coaches inquiring about playing for them.  Only the University of Wyoming showed interest. After a year in junior college, Allen transferred to Wyoming and took the Cowboys to a conference championship and two bowl games.  Drafted by the Bills at number seven in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, Allen developed into a franchise-caliber quarterback.  Similarly, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was a walk-on at Texas Tech University before transferring to the University of Oklahoma, where he won many honors including the coveted Heisman Trophy.  He was drafted first overall by the Browns in 2018. 

Many such cases can be readily cited in any sport.  How in the world did Michael Jordan get rejected by his junior high’s basketball coach? Johnny Unitas was one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time, yet he was virtually unwanted by the pros out of college.  Tom Brady, arguably the greatest NFL signal caller ever, was a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots. The list goes on.

In horse racing, John Henry and Seattle Slew were low-priced yearlings and Sunday Silence and Northern Dancer did not meet modest reserve prices at auction and were returned to their consigners.  The recently retired Maximum Security, who won over $12 million on the track, as a 3-year-old ran in a $16,000 claiming race.  Tiz the Law, also recently retired with earnings of over $2.7 million, was deemed insufficiently qualified for the 2017 Saratoga Fasig-Tipton select sale of yearlings and instead brought $110,000 in the Fasig-Tipton sale of New York breds.

No matter the sport, the potential is always there to find a diamond in the rough.  In horse racing, a seven-figure yearling at auction may temporarily get the publicity.  But two or three years later, a lesser purchase, or a reserved not attained, may get star billing.  This is the hope and challenge of buying a future racehorse.

Copyright © 2021 Horse Racing Business