||Generals to Battle in $50,000 Premiere
on Opening Night at Lone Star
Yessirgeneralsir, the upset
winner of last year's $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (Gr. III), will
attempt to deny Agrivating General a record third victory in the $50,000
Premiere Stakes, the opening night feature of Lone Star Park at Grand
Prairie's 67-date Spring Thoroughbred Season on Thursday, April 14.
The Premiere, as usual, will be run as the traditional first race of
the season at 6:35 p.m. CT.
A field of eight older Texas-breds was entered for the ninth running
of the one-mile Premiere. Yessirgeneralsir was made the 6-5 morning line
favorite and Agrivating General was listed at 5-2.
Yessirgeneralsir was sensational at Lone Star last summer, finishing
third in the Texas Mile and easily winning the Lone Star Park Handicap
- Lone Star's two graded stakes for older horses each worth $300,000.
But 'The General' hasn't started in seven months.
"We took a chip out of his left knee, and he's responded nicely,"
trainer Dallas Keen said. "We've had no problems and he's been training
great." Lonnie Meche will have the mount.
Here's the Premiere Stakes field from the rail out:
2. Major League (Amanda Crandall/Paul Murphy, 20-1)
1. Record Assembly (Kevin Cogburn/Charles Hukill, 20-1)
3. R B J's Blaze (Jeremy Collier/Brian House, 6-1)
4. Agrivating General (Quincy Hamilton/Danny Pish, 5-2)
5. Rare Cure (Cliff Berry/Joe Petalino, 4-1)
1a. Dusty Tunnel (John Jacinto/Charles Hukill, 20-1)
6. Yessirgeneralsir (Lonnie Meche/Dallas Keen, 6-5)
7. Most Feared (Casey Lambert/Jack Bruner, 20-1)
IN OTHER OPENING NIGHT NEWS: Grandstand gates open early
Thursday at 4:30 p.m....All patrons who pass through Lone Star's turnstile
before 6:15 p.m. on opening night will be given an entry blank to enter
the "Premiere Steaks Handicapping Contest." Those who correctly
identify the Premiere Stakes winner will have a chance to win a $250 gift
certificate to Bob's Steak & Chop House...Nikki Hale, who sung the
National Anthem on Breeders' Cup Day at Lone Star Park, will return to
sing the National Anthem and God Bless America on opening night...The
party band Icehouse will perform live between races in the Courtyard of
Champions between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m...Trainer Steve Asmussen will be saluted
between races for his record 555 wins in 2004.
JANEIAN TO DEFEND TITLE IN IRVING DISTAFF - Janeian,
the 7-year-old New Zealand-bred mare, will be back to defend her title
in Saturday's $75,000 Irving Distaff, Lone Star Park's traditional local
prep for the Grade III, $200,000 WinStar Distaff on Memorial Day. The
7 ½-furlong turf race for fillies and mares is expected to draw
a full field including impressive Fair Grounds allowance winner Paz Ciudadana
from the Steve Asmussen barn. Entries will be taken Thursday morning.
Janeian flourished under trainer Bret Calhoun's care last spring and summer,
winning the Irving Distaff by four lengths and finishing second to Asmussen's
Academic Angel in the Grade III WinStar Distaff. She then ventured to
Hollywood Park for the Grade III Royal Heroine Stakes and won that event
by two lengths over the classy Katdogawn. Her five subsequent starts as
the betting favorite, however, were disappointing. "You know, you
start to worry about 'em when they start to get older, but she's doing
really good now," Calhoun said. "She had a tough winter."
Janeian flew some 1,500 miles back to California in December to race in
the Grade II Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood, but the 1 1/16-mile turf race
was transferred to the main track and she was scratched. "We were
kind of stuck," Calhoun said. "So we ran her twice at Fair Grounds,
but she didn't care for that course; it just doesn't suit her style. After
those races, we shipped her to Houston and she really started to pick
it up again. Her last two works (six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 on April 1 and
five-eighths in 1:01 on April 8 at Sam Houston) make me feel like she's
really peaking. I think she's got a few more good races in her and she
really likes this course." Calhoun, who finished third in the Lone
Star trainer standings win 26 wins at last year's Spring Thoroughbred
Season, says Janeian might be the only stakes runner in his barn at this
point. "I've got a lot of 3-year-olds with some conditions left and
some maidens that look good," Calhoun said. "Our two-year-olds
look talented, too, but we'll have to see how they turn out." He
plans to ride a variety of jockeys this meeting, including Cliff Berry,
Glen Murphy, Casey Lambert, Roman Chapa, Jeremy Beasley and 21-year-old
Quincy Hamilton. "Quincy can ride," Calhoun said. "He's
the most patient young rider I've ever seen around here - so patient that
he sometimes drive you nuts. He really measures a race well. This meet
will be a good test for him."
DOWN THE STRETCH: Thursday's opening night 10-race card
lured 95 entries...There will be two 50-cent Pick 4s on the program: Races
2-5 and Races 7-10...Ten-Cent Superfectas will be available on all races
with seven or more starters (all races except the sixth and ninth on Opening
Night)...Trainer John Locke, who finished tied for eighth at last year's
Spring Thoroughbred Season with 15 wins from 113 starters, is back with
a string of 50 for this year's meeting. "I can only wish I get that
lucky again," Locke said. "This is a really, really tough meet
here. There are a lot of really good horses and a lot of good trainers."
Locke is looking forward to starting Proven Cure, the venerable 11-year-old
gelding who has won 16 of 77 career starts and $635,781. He won last weekend's
$50,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup by two lengths for his third win a
row. "He sure is an honest horse," Locke said. "He's going
through a good spell right now...Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel reports that
dual stakes winner Crytograph, who has been resting on a farm in South
Carolina for the winter, is scheduled to return to Lone Star Park sometime
next week. He hasn't started since a third-place finish in the Grade III
Oklahoma Derby on Nov. 21. Before that Crytograph finished second to Pollard's
Vision in the Grade III Walmac Lone Star Derby on the day before the Breeders'
Cup...Two of Von Hemel's top horses will start this weekend at Lone Star.
On Friday night, three-time stakes winner Waupaca returns in the ninth
race, a one-mile turf allowance for 4-year-olds and up which have not
won a race in 2005 (other than a maiden, claiming or trial race). Meanwhile,
Queena Corrina, who lost the $100,000 Bluebonnet Stakes by a nose on closing
day of the Fall Breeders' Cup Meeting, will be entered in the Irving Distaff.
"That loss here on closing day was the tightest photo I've ever seen,"
Von Hemel said. "That was a tough pill to swallow. But she's trained
well since then and she's ready to go." She breezed a half-mile Thursday
at Lone Star in :50 4/5...Other top horses in the Von Hemel barn include
4-year-old colt Free Thinking and 4-year-old filly Platinum Ballet. Free
Thinking has won four of his last five starts - all allowance races, including
two in a row at Oaklawn (the last over stakes winner Pro Prado). Platinum
Ballet was a runner-up to California invader Two Trail Sioux in last weekend's
$100,000 Bayakoa Stakes at Oaklawn. "They ran faster in [Sunday's]
Bayakoa (1:43.61 for 1 1/16 miles) than they did in [Saturday's] Grade
I Apple Blossom (1:43.86)," Von Hemel said. "She ran a big race
to only get beat a length."...Lone Star Park will giveaway free Budweiser
Magnetic Schedules to patrons on Saturday and Sunday while supplies last...In
addition to Friday's post-race concert by Gary P. Nunn and Saturday's
post-race concert by The Charlie Daniels Band, there will be live music
between races all week in the Courtyard of Champions: Icehouse (Thursday,
7-10 p.m.); Zane Lewis (Friday, 7-10 p.m.); The B&G Band (Saturday,
12-4 p.m.) and Channel 15 (Sunday, 12-4 p.m.).