||Live American Quarter Horse Racing Returns Friday Night
Some of the world's fastest American Quarter Horses have ventured to Grand Prairie, Texas in anticipation of Lone Star Park's sixth annual Fall Meeting of Champions, which begins Friday, October 4, at 6:35 p.m. (CDT). The lucrative nine-week meeting, which continues for 33 nights through November 30, will feature nearly $5 million in purses - a hefty daily average in excess of $150,000 - and 38 stakes events cumulatively worth an estimated $3,562,500.
Sixteen graded stakes, headed by 11 Grade 1s (the highest grade a race can receive), will be run this season. Five Grade 1 events will be run Saturday, November 2, as the 10th running of the MBNA America Challenge Championships returns to North Texas for the third time. The MBNAs is American Quarter Horse Racing's equivalent to Thoroughbred racing's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships as a dozen stakes races for numerous divisions will be staged that night. Five other stakes in connection with the event will be held the night before on Friday, November 1. (Note: A late addition to the stakes schedule is the $20,000 6666 Ranch Handicap for 3-year-olds & up at 400 yards on November 1).
Racing during Lone Star Park's season will be conducted four nights a week, Wednesday through Saturday. The first live race will be 6:35 p.m., with the exception of Saturday, Oct. 26 (Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Day) when live racing will begin 1 ½ hours early at 5 p.m. In addition, there will be no live racing on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28).
The Fall Meeting of Champions, which usually attracts more than 4,500 patrons and nearly $800,000 in wagers daily, is one of the most popular American Quarter Horse race meetings in the country, thanks to the annual lucrative purses. This year will be no exception.
Once again, the richest race of the season will be decided on closing night. The estimated $1 million Texas Classic Futurity, a Grade 1, 400-yard dash for 2-year-olds, is the richest horse race in Texas. Other Grade 1 events on the calendar include the estimated $450,000 Dash For Cash Futurity for 2-year-olds at 400 yards (Saturday, October 19), the estimated $400,000 Texas Classic Derby for 3-year-olds at 440 yards (Friday, November 29) and the estimated $150,000 Dash For Cash Derby for 3-year-olds at 400 yards (Friday, October 18).
The remaining Grade 1 events for American Quarter Horses comprise the MBNA America Challenge Championships. Showcased on the stellar night of racing will be the $300,000 MBNA America for 3-year-olds and up at the classic distance of 440 yards, the $175,000 Bayer Legend Derby for 3-year-olds at 400 yards, the $150,000 American Airlines Juvenile for 2-year-olds at 350 yards, the $75,000 Ford Distaff for fillies and mares at 400 yards and the $75,000 MCI WorldCom for 3-year-olds and up at the marathon distance of 870 yards.
In addition, there are Grade 1 races for Paint Horses and Appaloosas. The estimated $100,000 Graham Paint Futurity for 2-year-old Paint Horses at 350 yards will be run Friday, October 25. The $10,000 Olympia Joe Lone Star Paint and Appaloosa Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 400 yards will be held Saturday, October 26 - one of five stakes to be run that night following a simulcast of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships from Arlington Park in Chicago. Breeders' Cup Day is annually one of the most popular days of the season. If history repeats, a crowd of approximately 9,000 will attend that day and wager nearly $3 million on-track.
The opening night feature is the $25,000 B.F. Phillips Jr. Handicap, a restricted Grade 3 race for older Texas-breds at 400 yards. One of the more intriguing races of the season is the $15,000 Gridiron Gallop. Contested over 100 yards on November 1, it's the shortest stakes race in the world and is usually run in just a little more than six seconds.