|Lone Star Park Kicks Off Important Year
One of the most important years in Lone Star Park
history officially commences Thursday when the Grand Prairie, Texas racetrack
begins its 63-date Spring Thoroughbred Season at 6:35 p.m. (CT). Later
this fall, Lone Star Park will host an international audience of about
50,000 when the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, horse
racing's traveling year-end championship, ventures to the Southwest for
the first time.
A number of capital improvements - part of a $7.9 expansion plan which
began in November 2002 - have been made at Lone Star Park so the Dallas-Forth
area racetrack could host the grandiose Breeders' Cup in October. Between
live race meetings, about 1,600 permanent box seats were installed along
the grandstand apron and a 10,000-square foot room called "Champions"
was added to the second floor, complete with a spacious viewing balcony
near the finish line. In addition, the winner's circle and saddling paddock
were remodeled to accommodate more people and horses, and new rubber brick
pavers connect the two areas.
"We've been working vigorously around the clock to get the facility
ready for what we believe will be one of our strongest opening weekends
ever," said Jeff Greco, Lone Star Park's Vice-President and General
The eighth annual Spring Thoroughbred Season will continue for 13 weeks
through July 11, two weeks shorter than usual because Lone Star Park will
run 19 additional Thoroughbred dates in October for its inaugural Fall
Breeders' Cup Meeting. The 21st running of the Breeders' Cup, which features
eight championship races totaling $14 million in prizes and awards, is
scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 30.
Track officials hope to break fast from the starting gate. The traditional
first race of the season, the $50,000 Premiere Stakes, lured a highly
competitive field of 10, including eight stakes winners. Horsemen flooded
the entry box for the remainder of the 10-race program, as well. A total
of 108 Thoroughbreds - an above average 10.8 horses per race - were entered
In addition, Lone Star Park landed Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone -
the sport's all-time female win leader with 3,704 victories -- for a special
opening night appearance and free autograph session. Also planned are
season-opening ceremonies before the first race, including a massive balloon
release and jockey introductions on the main track, and plenty of fanfare
throughout the night with live entertainment and music between races.
On Friday, country music icon Willie Nelson will perform after the races,
followed Saturday by a concert from rock and roll legends The Beach Boys.
"With the Breeders' Cup coming to Texas this year, we have a lot
of reasons to celebrate," Greco said. "There's no better way
to start our live season than to throw a party which will last through
the weekend. We hope to build momentum and keep it rolling throughout
The presence of the Breeders' Cup, which has an estimated economic impact
of about $52 million to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, may already be paying
off. Wagering on simulcast races since the start of the year is up $2
million, or 4%, from comparative figures in 2003, and Breeders' Cup ticket
applications are on a record pace. More than 35,000 Breeders' Cup seats,
which range from $25 to $125 for the general public, have been requested
since they were made available in late January. The deadline to be included
in a random drawing for reserved seating is June 4.
The first live race on opening night and weeknights (Wednesday-Friday)
is 6:35 p.m. Weekend and holiday action will begin at 1:35 p.m.