|Lone Star Park Meet Ends With Mixed Results
Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie concluded its fifth season on Sunday, July 15, with an increase of wagering from all sources (on-track live, on-track simulcasts and off-track live) from 2000. The $3.2 million daily average was a 5.4% jump from the $3 million last season. More than $237 million was wagered at the meeting, whereas $222 million was bet from all sources in 2000. However, daily attendance and on-track handle both decreased compared to 2000.
Lone Star saw a 9.2% increase in wagering on its racing product. More than $193 million was bet on the Thoroughbred racing - $89.6 million on-track and $147.5 million off-track - over 74 days from April 5 through July 15. It was an $18 million jump from the $174.4 million wagered at the 73-day meeting a year ago.
"I felt that our quality of racing was the best we ever offered and that showed in the 9.2% increase in our live product handle," said Corey Johnsen, Lone Star Park President and General Manager. "It's a credit to our horsemen who have continue to upgrade our product and to a great group of loyal fans who support it."
The business jump was triggered by quality racing throughout the 15-week season. Horsemen competed for more than $240,000 in daily purses for the second straight year (includes accredited Texas-bred awards money) and a record $4 million in stakes races. Stars such as Dixie Dot Com and Hallowed Dreams graced the racing stage. Promising youngsters like Explosive Truth, Miss Ritz, Nuclear Assembly, Smoke Buster and Point Gained (a half-sister to Preakness and Belmont stakes winner Point Given), were unveiled. And, at season's end, five track records on the main track had been broken.
Daily attendance slipped 3.8% at Lone Star Park this year (8,892 daily average for 2001 versus a 9,251 daily average in 2000). However, Lone Star continued to be among the nation's top racetracks in on-track attendance. A total of 658,032 fans passed through the turnstiles during the meet.
"Throughout the first month of the season, we started a little slow against some stiff local sports competition," Johnsen said. "But during the last half of the meet, we showed an increase in both on track attendance and handle. That rally gives us momentum and a lot of enthusiasm for 2002."
The Lone Stars and Stripes Festival on July 3 again proved to be a big hit as a meet high 30,462 attended the holiday card and post-race fireworks show. It was the second largest attended racing event in track history.
Lone Star Million Day has quickly grown into one of Lone Star Park's marquee events. For the third straight year, horsemen from across the country flocked to North Texas to challenge the top local horses in seven rich stakes events. Attendance for the richest day in Texas racing grew 3.9% to 19,027. Wagering on the 11-race card was up 36.3% from the previous year as a Lone Star Park record $6,076,969 was put through the tote machines. It easily topped the old mark of $5,618,471 set April 18, 1999, the day Kentucky Derby winner Real Quiet ran in the Texas Mile and Julie Krone made her final ride in the Lone Star Derby.
Overall, on-track wagers on live racing totaled $45.6 million this season, but slipped 6.6% to an average of $616,589 per day, compared to $660,065 in 2000. Off-track bets increased sharply by 15.2% to a daily average of $1.9 million (versus $1.7 million in 2000).
Dixie Dot Com, who broke the track record (1:40.53) while winning the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (Gr. III), was unanimously voted Horse of the Meet and Champion Older Male by media and selected racing officials. The 6-year-old horse also won the $300,000 Texas Mile (Gr. III) early in the meet and became the first horse to sweep both races. Sensational filly Hallowed Dreams was honored as Champion Older Female and Champion Sprinter after boosting her ledger to 23 wins from 24 starts with wins in the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes and $75,000 Miller Lite Stakes.
In addition to Dixie Dot Com and Hallowed Dreams, Royal Spy was a dual season champion. The winner of the $200,000 Diamond "A" USA Stakes and $125,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge was honored as Champion 3-Year-Old Male and Champion Turf Horse.
Other champions were Hattiesburg (Champion 3-Year-Old Female), Miss Ritz (Champion 2-Year-Old Female), Nuclear Assembly (Champion 2-Year-Old Male), Teenytinytina (Champion Claiming Horse) and Triple Card (Champion Texas-bred).
Steve Asmussen and Cole Norman stole the show among trainers. Corey Lanerie won a riding title for the second time. Ken Murphy of Dallas outlasted Tom Durant and Bobby Beck in spirited dash to the wire for the coveted leading owner title.
Asmussen, who began the day ranked fourth nationally in money won with more than $4.4 million, shattered training records for single season wins (90) and earnings ($2.2 million). The 36-year-old finished 16 wins ahead of Norman (74), who, like Asmussen, had as many wins as there were days at the meet.
Lanerie was the riding champ with 80 wins and $1.7 million. The 26-year-old finished 14 wins ahead of Anthony Lovato, who had 66 wins.
Murphy won two races closing day to clinch his first leading owner title. The direct mail entrepreneur won a record 17 races, two more than defending champ Durant and three clear of Beck. Drs. K.K. & Vilasini Jayaraman of Ocala, Fla., were the leading money winners as owners with a record $500,000. The couple own Royal Spy.
Five track records were broken on the main track. In addition to Dixie Dot Com's mark, Nuclear Assembly ran five furlongs in :57.41 on June 30, Term Sheet covered 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.78 on July 5, Triple Card stepped six furlongs in 1:08.06 on May 28, and Clooney cruised seven furlongs in 1:20.98 on June 22.
Additionally, Lone Star Park remained a national leader in average field size with 9.62 horses per race.