||Foundation Class of 14 To Be Recognized
in New Lone Star Park Hall of Fame
A foundation class of
14 will be enshrined in the new Lone Star Park Hall of Fame on Saturday,
April 21 - one of the numerous highlights during a yearlong celebration
of Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie's 10th Anniversary. Lone Star Park's
67-date Spring Thoroughbred Season opens for a 16-week run on Thursday
night (April 12) at 6:35 p.m. CT and will continue through Sunday, July
The inaugural Lone Star Park Hall of Fame class includes 1997 Horse of
the Meeting Anet; former Lone Star Park all-time win
leader and the 1997 leading jockey Ronald Ardoin; Lone
Star Park's eight-time leading trainer and all-time win leader Steve
Asmussen; legendary Quarter Horse trainer Jack Brooks,
who saddled a record six winners in the lucrative Texas Classics; three-time
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Bob Baffert, who has won
a dozen Lone Star Park stakes races with major players; popular regular
customer and horseplayer J.S. "Ponti" Campagna;
original Lone Star Park investors Trammell Crow Family;
four-time leading owner Tom Durant; Grand Prairie Mayor
Charles England; former Lone Star Park President Corey
S. Johnsen; influential Texas Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse
owners and breeders Jim and Marilyn Helzer; former Lone
Star Park Chairman Robert L. Kaminski; Kool Kue
Baby, winner of a record 25 AQHA stakes races; and Mocha
Express, the 1998 Horse of the Meet and only two-time Lone Star
Park Handicap winner.
The inductees were voted in by the Lone Star Park Hall of Fame panel,
which included Randy Galloway of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and ESPN
103.3 FM; Dave Hooper, Executive Director of the Texas Thoroughbred Association;
Mary Rampellini of Daily Racing Form; Darren Rogers, Lone Star Park's
Director of Communications and Gary West of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
On Saturday, April 21, the foundation class will be permanently enshrined
with raised letters above the saddling area in Lone Star Park's paddock.
The unveiling will take place at 1 p.m. CT, 35 minutes before the first
live race (gates open at 11:30 a.m.). Also, the Hall of Fame class will
be honored throughout the day between the 11-live races, complete with
video highlights. The first 10,000 customers through Lone Star Park's
turnstiles that day will receive a free commemorative Lone Star Park Hall
of Fame t-shirt that salutes each member.
"The creation of the new Lone Star Park Hall of Fame is a perfect
complement to our yearlong celebration of Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie's
10th anniversary," said Rogers, who chaired the selection committee.
"This outstanding foundation class, whose accomplishments and reputations
will withstand the test of time, will set the standard for all future
Lone Star Park Hall of Fame Foundation Class of 2007
Anet - Owned by Donald Dizney and trained by
Bob Baffert, the Florida-bred was crowned Lone Star Park's 1997 Horse
of the Meeting after winning the inaugural Lone Star Derby by 2 ¼
lengths over Frisk Me Now and Holzmeister. Anet would finish second in
the Grade II Illinois Derby and Grade II Ohio Derby before returning to
Lone Star for a victory in the USA Stakes under regular rider David Flores.
Later in the year, Anet would run second to Touch Gold in the Grade I
Haskell Invitational and win the Grade II Del Mar Derby at 1 1/8 miles
on turf. Anet would win two of four starts and $287,000 at Lone Star Park
Ronald Ardoin - Ronald Ardoin, always regarded
as a leader in the Lone Star Park jockey's room, retired in 2003 after
becoming only the 16th jockey in Thoroughbred racing history to win 5,000
career races. He concluded his outstanding 28-year career with 5,226 trips
to the winner's circle, including 281 victories at Lone Star Park. He
was Lone Star Park's all-time win leader from 1997-2001 and was the leading
rider at the inaugural 1997 meeting with 92 victories, including a track
record six victories on July 17, 1997. He also won 12 local stakes races,
including a sweep of the TTA Sales Futurity and Middleground Stakes aboard
Picture I.D., Lone Star Park's 1999 Champion 2-Year-Old Male.
Steve Asmussen - The three-time national win-leader
and three-time Eclipse Award Finalist as North America's Champion Trainer
has won a record eight Lone Star Park training titles (wins and earnings)
and is the racetrack's all-time leader in wins (651), stakes wins (52)
and earnings ($15,621,006). In 2004, he crushed Hall of Fame trainer Jack
Van Berg's 28-year-old record for races won in a single year when he amassed
an astonishing 555 victories. Since 1999, five horses in his care have
won Grade I races. He also ranks 13th in career North American wins (3,539
through April 5) and is on pace to be ranked eighth all-time at year's
end. At Lone Star, Asmussen holds the record for single season stakes
wins (nine in 2004), single season earnings ($2,270,108 in 2001) and wins
in a day (seven on July 14, 2002). He has trained 15 Lone Star Park champions,
including 1999 Horse of the Meet Heritage of Gold, and won the fillies
division of the TTA Sales Futurity an amazing seven times.
Jack Brooks - Hall of Fame Quarter Horse trainer
retired at age 71 after Lone Star Park's 2006 Fall Meeting of Champions.
The winner of an unprecedented eight All American Futurities excelled
at Lone Star, training four Horse of the Meetings and winning all the
major Grade 1 events: Texas Classic Futurity (four times), Dash For Cash
Futurity (once), Texas Classic Derby (three times), Dash For Cash Derby
(four times) and Refrigertor Handicap (twice). In 2006, his stable earned
a Lone Star Park Quarter Horse record $726,282.
Bob Baffert - Three-time Eclipse Award and
Kentucky Derby-winning trainer has supported Lone Star Park's stakes program
with top horses from the outset, winning 12 local stakes events. Baffert
stole the show on the grand opening weekend in 1997 with Isitingood, who
upset champion Skip Away in the Lone Star Park Handicap, and Anet in the
Lone Star Derby. In 2002, Grade I Wood Memorial winner Congaree made a
successful 4-year-old debut in the Grade III Lone Star Park Handicap.
In 2006, he collected his second Texas Mile and Lone Star Derby wins with
Preachinatthebar and Wanna Runner, respectively. A record four-time winner
of the Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes, Baffert also brought Kentucky Derby and
Preakness Stakes winner Real Quiet to Lone Star Park for the 1999 Texas
Mile, but fell short to multiple stakes winner Littlebitlively, who won
the race for the second year in a row.
J.S. "Ponti" Campagna - One of Lone
Star Park's most popular and influential regular customers since 1996,
Campagna has earned tremendous respect and garnered a reputation as one
of the shrewdest and most-disciplined handicappers from his fellow horseplayers.
The instant "Ponti" hits his profit goal for the day, he returns
to his home in Flower Mound, Texas to prepare for the next day's races
- even if his "best bets" of the day have yet to run. The method
has proved to be rewarding. An avid student of the "front bandages
on- and off" betting angle, "Ponti" is peppered daily by
other customers for his picks of the day, especially from the New York
Trammell Crow Family - Dallas-based real estate
developers Trammell Crow and his son, Harlan Crow, were part of the original
investors in the Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie project. Lawsuits, legal
wrangling and investor frustration stalled the project in the fall of
1994. The Crows brought in Bob Kaminski, who had a wealth of knowledge
in real estate and financial investments, to revitalize the struggling
project. Based on Kaminski's analysis that the project should move forward,
Crow Holdings made a $10 million commitment toward the project in February
1995, which kick-started other financial pledges from the state's horse
owners and trainers. Soon thereafter, the City of Grand Prairie sales
tax revenue bonds were issued and quickly sold, and financing for the
project was complete.
Tom Durant - Tom Durant, a longtime owner and
breeder in Texas, made the switch from Quarter Horses to Thoroughbreds
in 1997 and became Lone Star Park's most victorious owner with 126 trips
to the winner's circle over the first 10 Spring Thoroughbred Seasons.
In turn, he is the only owner to have won four titles as Lone Star Park's
top owner: 1998 (14 wins), 2000 (13 wins), 2004 Fall (8 wins); and 2005
(18 wins). The native of Granbury, Texas also has won six Lone Star Park
stakes races and nearly $2.4 million in local purse money. One of his
best horses was Touch Tone, who won the 2001 Alysheba Breeders' Cup Stakes
at Lone Star and gave eventual Horse of the Year Point Given one of his
toughest races in the Grade I Haskell Invitational.
Mayor Charles England - Mayor Charles England
was the visionary who led the effort to bring major league horse racing
to Grand Prairie, Texas. On Jan. 10, 1992, citizens of Grand Prairie voted
in favor of a half-cent sales tax to assist in financing bonds to build
a Class I horse racetrack, which will be paid off 18 years early in September
2007. Shortly after the major financial commitment, the city created a
sports authority, which would own the track and lease it to a yet-to-be
determined track operator. The project meant jobs, opportunities and economic
development for the citizens of Grand Prairie. Receipts from Lone Star
Park revenue have contributed to more than $11.3 million for other city
projects. Mayor England was also instrumental in bringing the Breeders'
Cup World Championships to Lone Star Park.
Corey S. Johnsen - Corey S. Johnsen led the
development of Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie and was the driving force
behind the Breeders' Cup World Championships coming to Texas in 2004.
The Tacoma, Wash. native was Lone Star Park's first employee in February
1994 when he was brought on as Vice-President and General Manager. He
was promoted to President in January 2000 and elevated to President of
Magna Entertainment Corp. Operations in the Southwest when the racetrack
was sold in October 2002. He served in that capacity until February 2007.
Under Johnsen's guidance, Lone Star Park grew into a major player on the
world's racing stage. After attracting nearly 1.3 million customers during
the inaugural 1997 season, Lone Star Park became the first racetrack in
modern history to increase attendance in its second year of operation.
He also helped create the National All-Star Jockey Championship, which
was held at Lone Star Park 1997-2004.
Jim & Marilyn Helzer - In June 1995, Jim
Helzer helped convince horsemen to dedicate a portion of their simulcast
wagering revenue to assist in the financing of Lone Star Park at Grand
Prairie's construction project. The idea came at a critical time in the
development of the racetrack and cemented the financing. As owners and
breeders, the Helzers, who reside in Arlington and operate JEH Stallion
Station in Pilot Point, have long been influential leaders in both the
Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industries in Texas.
Robert L. Kaminski - In September 1995, Robert
L. Kaminski was appointed President of Lone Star Race Park Management
Corporation, the general partner of the partnership that developed and
operated Lone Star Park, and was promoted to Chairman in January 2000.
He served in that capacity until Lone Star Park was sold to Magna Entertainment
Corp. in October 2002. Kaminski was brought into the Lone Star Park project
by well-known Dallas-based real estate developers Trammell Crow and his
son, Harlan Crow, at a time when there was legal gridlock and investor
frustration. Kaminski served as arbitrator and peacemaker, reworked the
package and quickly gained credibility and trust with key participants
to attain their common goal of opening Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie.
Kool Kue Baby - Acquired by owner Ramiro Lopez
for two pigs, two calves and a dog, this 950-pound Quarter Horse mare
set and equaled the American Quarter Horse record for career stakes wins
at Lone Star Park. Her record-equaling 22nd career stakes triumph came
in the Grade 1 MBNA America Challenge Championship on Nov. 14, 1998 -
her biggest career win. Two weeks later, she'd break the mark with a dominating
one-length win in the Refrigerator Handicap. In the final start of her
illustrious 64-race career, she won the Centaur Challenge Championship
at Lone Star Park on Oct. 28, 2000 for her 25th career stakes win. Overall,
the Texas-bred mare won 34 races and $783,262 and was crowned an AQHA
champion three times. At Lone Star, the Cinderella story won five of nine
starts and $255,170 under the care of her trainers K.C. Carden and the
late Steve Van Bebber, and was named the 1998 Horse of the Meet as well
as Champion Older Female in 1997, '98 and 2000.
Mocha Express - Mocha Express, trained by Tim
Harder and usually ridden by Marlon St. Julien, sparkled at Lone Star
Park between 1997-99, winning seven of 12 starts, including a track record
four stakes and $487,796 in local earnings for his owners Don Strate,
Roger Harder and Mary Dodd. The Texas-bred is the only repeat winner of
the Lone Star Park Handicap, the second of which came in 1999 by a scant
nose over graded stakes winner and two-time Texas Mile champ Littlbitlively.
In turn, he was recognized as the 1999 Texas-bred Horse of the Year. The
year before, he was named Lone Star Park's Horse of the Meeting. Overall,
Mocha Express won 16 of 34 starts and $960,216 between 1997-2000.