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It's time to pony up: Racing returns to Sam Houston on Friday

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OK, you are depressed. There are only three real games left in football season. The Texans were dead before November hit. All that will be left to talk about is months of draft analysis.

Well you can get your gambling fix legally starting Friday when live thoroughbred racing returns to Sam Houston Race Park.

The track is coming off its most successful meet yet, with several big time horses running here and going on to have monster 2013 seasons.

This year should be no different.

The meet begins Friday night with three stakes races and four more on Saturday. The highlight will be next Saturday night, when the track hosts four stakes races, including the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic and the $200,000 Connally Turf Cup. The Classic is the richest thoroughbred race in Texas.

Sam Houston has gone to shorter meets in recent years -- this one lasts until March 11 -- and the result has been better quality racing, better horses and a more profitable model. Race tracks in neighboring states have the luxury of other gaming to supplement their purses. While Texas continues to live in the dark ages in regards to gambling, Sam Houston has had to be smarter than its competitors.

And it's worked.

Fun promotions like camel and jockey racing and the popular .50 Fridays with .50 beer and $1.50 wine will return this year. It's helped create new fans and build on SHRP's growing fan base.

The track has also altered its schedule this year to take advantage of a growing national simulcast base. Race days will be Friday and Saturday with a 7 p.m. post time and Monday and Tuesday with a 1 p.m. post time.

As in the past, our show The Blitz on ESPN 97.5 will broadcast live from 4-7 most Fridays. Afterward, we will be hosting the ESPN section party from 7-9 and you are welcome to attend.

For picks, there is a free tip sheet at Sam Houston that has my selections. I will also be posting them here and occasionally live tweeting @fredfaour during select race days.

If you want to learn more about how to bet, pick up a copy of Acing Racing, which is available here. I will also have copies available during track appearances.

So get over your football depression and saddle up. Live racing is almost here.

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