$1 Million Texas Classic Futurity Highlights Closing Week at Lone Star Park

(Tuesday, November 22, 2005) - Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie will conclude its eighth Fall Meeting of Champions in style this holiday weekend with a trio of power-packed Grade 1 races, including one of the world's richest races for American Quarter Horses - the $1 million Texas Classic Futurity on Saturday.

The 400-yard Futurity for 2-year-olds is the centerpiece of six stakes events that will be run Friday, Saturday and Sunday (closing day of the 33-date meeting). There's no racing this week on Wednesday and Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Friday's 13-race card will showcase the Grade 1, $332,869 Texas Classic Derby (3-year-olds at 440 yards) and Grade 1, $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap (3-year-olds and up at 440 yards). On Saturday, the Texas Classic Futurity - the richest horse race in Texas featuring a $434,478 first prize - and $80,789 Texas Classic Futurity Consolation (400 yards for 2-year-olds that clocked the 11-20 fastest times in Nov. 12 trials) are scheduled. Sunday's closing day program includes a pair of $15,000 stakes for 2-year-olds at 400 yards, the Hipodromo de las Americas (colts and geldings) and Joe B. Turner Memorial (fillies).

The stakes have drawn some of Quarter Horse racing's sparkling stars. Undefeated Automatically and Lazy E Futurity winner Pyc Paint Your Wagon head the Futurity. Si Puede, a winner of eight in a row, meets Dash For Cash Derby winner Mighty Invictus in the Derby. Meanwhile, champion Vals Fortune, a winner in 19 of 21 starts, makes his first start outside of Louisiana in the Refrigerator against four horses that have won stakes at Lone Star this season.

Lone Star's first live race on Friday and Saturday is 5 p.m. CT. Sunday's closing day program will be a matinee that begins at 1:35 p.m. CT.

Automatically, Pyc Paint Your Wagon to Break Side-By-Side in Saturday's $1 million Futurity

Undefeated Automatically and fastest qualifier Pyc Paint Your Wagon will start alongside one another in Saturday's $1 million Texas Classic Futurity at Lone Star Park. The Heath Taylor-trained Automatically will break from the rail and was made a slight 9-5 morning line favorite over Pyc Paint Your Wagon, who was lined at 2-1 by oddsmaker Rick Lee.

The 400-yard race for 2-year-old American Quarter Horses is the richest horse race in Texas.

Automatically remained unbeaten in three starts when he clocked 400 yards in :19.882 - the third fastest time in 13 trial races at Lone Star on Nov. 12. The 10 fastest times earned spots in Saturday's final. "And he didn't get away too good," said Automatically's regular rider Gilbert Ortiz.

Michael Pohl's Lazy E Futurity winner and Rainbow Futurity runner-up Pyc Paint Your Wagon - a Jack Brooks trainee ridden by Jacky Martin - was the fastest qualifier on the night with a quick time of :19.804 in the final heat. The 2-year-old Corona Cartel homebred colt has won two of seven starts and $171,542.

Automatically, a Streakin La Jolla gelding owned by Teddy Abrams Jr. of Houston, won his trial by a powerful 1 ¼-lengths and easily handled Pyc Paint Your Wagon in a race earlier this year.

"This horse has always showed promise, but he's had to overcome some problems," Ortiz said. "He dealt with a shin problem after his maiden win at Delta (in June) and then they laid him up for the All American trials."

In the Aug. 18 All American Futurity trials at New Mexico's Ruidoso Downs, Automatically had the fastest 440-yard time of :21.511 into a 5 mph headwind through the first 10 of 16 trials. That day, he easily handled Pyc Paint Your Wagon by 1 ¼ lengths. But after the 10th race, the wind died then quickly shifted to a 10 mph tailwind.

"If it wasn't for that wind shift, he would have been in the finals," claimed Ortiz. Slowly but surely, Automatically's time slid down and out of the Top 10 and settled at No. 11 - just 16-hundredths of a second from a chance at Quarter Horse racing's coveted $1.9 million All American.

On Saturday, Automatically will finally get his chance at a big payday. First place is worth $434,478.

Here's the complete field from the rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Automatically (Ortiz, 9-5); Pyc Paint Your Wagon (Martin, 2-1); Exclusive Corona (Manuel Garcia, 20-1); Ja Fast Lady (Jose Vega, 20-1); Vodka On Ice (Jose L. Santos, 20-1); Memories On the Run (Raul Ramirez Sr., 8-1); Mr Perry to You (Juan Vazquez, 20-1); Brindis Por Cayenne (Freddie Martinez, 9-2); Enticilizeur (Larry Payne, 20-1); and Real Visions (David Brown, 10-1).

All horses will carry 120 pounds.

The 13th annual Texas Classic Futurity will be run as Saturday's 12th race at approximately 9:57 p.m. CT.

Si Puede Goes for Nine in a Row in Friday's $332,869 Texas Classic Derby

Si Puede was made the 8-5 favorite to win her ninth race in a row when she meets First Comment, Heza Native Man and Dash For Cash Derby winner Mighty Invictus in Friday's Grade 1, $332,869 Texas Classic Derby at Lone Star Park.

Si Puede defeated Mighty Invictus by three-quarters of a length in a Nov. 11 trial for her eighth consecutive victory. Jim Crouch's Heza Native Man was the fastest in four trials for 3-year-olds with a 440-yard time of :21.589, but Si Puede stole the show.

Under jockey Jose Vega in the final trial, the Sam Houston Derby and Rheudasil Handicap winner broke alertly from post No. 3 and kicked well clear of her eight rivals in the early stages of the race. She drifted to the middle of the racetrack, well clear of any rival, and held off the late run by Mighty Invictus. Her time of :21.728 ranked third among the 33 three-year-olds.

"She's one in a million," said Dave Correll, who trains the 3-year-old filly for owner-breeder Lukin Gilliand of San Antonio. "You can a long time for one like her. You've got to take advantage of one like her when you get 'em."

Overall, Si Puede has won 11 of 16 starts and $173,440.

Here's the Derby field from the rail out (with jockey and morning line odds): Surprisingly Special (James Brooks, 15-1); Astrikingresemblance (Julian Cantu, 20-1); Streakin South Tong (Gilbert Ortiz, 30-1); First Comment (Rodrigo Vallejo, 9-2); Mighty Invictus (Juan Vazquez, 5-1); Net Sum Gain (Roy Baldillez, 5-1); Winners Award (Tad Leggett, 8-1); Si Puede (Vega, 8-5); Heza Native Man (Joe Martinez, 5-2); and Sizzlin Red Corona (Rodger Smith, 30-1).

All horses will carry 122 pounds. Mighty Invictus and Net Sum Gain, owned in partnership by Jim and Marilyn Helzer, will run coupled.

The 13th Texas Classic Derby will be run as Friday's 12th race at approximately 9:57 p.m. CT.

Vals Fortune Invades for Friday's $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap

Vals Fortune, the amazing winner in 19 of 21 starts, will venture outside Louisiana for the first time as the headliner in Friday's Grade 1, $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Owned by Houston's Teddy Abrams Jr. and trained by Heath Taylor, 4-year-old gelding Vals Fortune enters the Refrigerator riding a nine-race win streak, including three stakes wins this year. After winning the restricted Grade 3 John Alleman Memorial Stakes and Grade 2 MBNA America East Challenge in April and May, respectively, he was rested for an end-of-year run that began with a head victory over Silent Overdrive in the LQHBA Classic Stakes at Louisiana Downs.

Vals Fortune will face a who's who of Lone Star stakes winners - Burnett Handicap champ Country Chicks Man, Classic Chevrolet Heartbeat of America Handicap hero Fredericksburg, B.F. Phillips Jr. Handicap winner Kathys Star Quest and 6666 Ranch Handicap victor Sarahs Fast Man - plus last year's Refrigerator runner-up Gray Invasion.

Also entered is Push the Pace, winner of Grade 2 West Texas Maturity at Sunland Park in February; Hesa Passem Magic, triumphant in a trio of Louisiana-bred stakes including the restricted Grade 3 Louisiana Classic Stakes; Say Speedy Driven, a three-time stakes winner in Kansas including The Woodlands Championship; and Heza Shaker, a winner of three stakes at Retama Park including the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Stakes.

The winner of Friday's 440-yard classic for older horses will earn an automatic berth into the prestigious Champion of Champions at Southern California's Los Alamitos in December and will become an instant contender for year-end World Champion honors.

Here's the field from the rail out (with jockey and assigned weight): Sarahs Fast Man (Jose Alvarez, 124 pounds); Fredericksburg (Juan Vazquez, 123); Heza Shaker (Martin Rubalcava, 123); Hesa Passem Magic (Donald Watson, 125); Vals Fortune (Gilbert Ortiz, 126); Say Speedy Driven (Jose Vega, 123); Kathys Star Quest (Raul Ramirez Sr., 123); Country Chicks Man (Jacky Martin, 125); Push the Pace (Roy Baldillez, 123); and Gray Invasion (Rodrigo Vallejo, 124).

The Refrigerator will be run as Friday's 11th race at approximately 9:30 p.m. CT.

Brooks, Acuna, Maddox Eye Lone Star Titles

Jockey "Diamond Jim" Brooks, trainer Jeff Acuna and owner A.D. Maddox had the lead in their respective divisions at Lone Star Park with just three days remaining at the eighth Fall Meeting of Champions for American Quarter Horses. Each person is eying his first Lone Star Park championship title for most wins in a meeting.

Through the first 30 days of the 33-date season, Brooks held a commanding 44-34 lead over a resilient Rodrigo Vallejo in the jockey standings. Dewey Smith was third with 25 wins. Brothers Roy and Alex Baldillez were tied for fourth with 19 wins apiece.

Acuna kicked three victories clear of two-time local training champ Toby Keeton, 16-13. Jesse Yoakum was third with 12 wins, Eddie Willis was fourth with 11, while John Buchanan, "Sleepy" Gilbreath and Benny Pennington each had 10.

In the race for leading owner, Maddox was one up on J.W. Owens, 9-8. Raul Rubalcava remained in striking distance with seven wins, Bernardine and Gordon Haslam were fourth with six and Joel Rod Pierce was fifth with five.

The jockey and trainer standings are sponsored by McDonalds in Grand Prairie, Texas.

DOWN THE STRETCH - Saturday will double as Fan Appreciation Day at Lone Star Park. Patrons that pass through the turnstiles will be given an entry form for prize drawings between live races...Simulcast wagering on horse racing from Japan will be available for the first time at Lone Star Park this Friday and Saturday at 11:40 p.m. CT. On Friday, the showcased event is the $1.8 million Japan Cup Dirt (12:20 a.m. CT, which is technically early Saturday morning). The $4.45 million Japan Cup Turf (12:20 a.m. CT, technically early Sunday morning) will be featured Saturday...Even though Lone Star Park won't be racing live Wednesday or Thursday, the Post Time Pavilion will be open for simulcast wagering both days. Thanksgiving Day simulcasts include the Grade II, $300,000 Falls City Handicap from Churchill Downs and the $75,000 Thanksgiving Breeders' Cup Handicap from the Fair Grounds at Louisiana Downs meeting...Friday's simulcasts include the Grade II, $500,000 Clark Handicap from Churchill and the Grade II, $150,000 Delta Airlines/Top Flight Handicap from Aqueduct...Saturday's imports include a stakes tripleheader at Aqueduct and a doubleheader at Churchill Downs. In New York, they'll stage the Grade I, $350,000 Cigar Mile; Grade II, $200,000 Remsen Stakes; and Grade II, $200,000 Demoiselle Stakes. Churchill's closing day program features a pair of Grade II, $200,000 stakes for 2-year-olds: the Kentucky Jockey Club (colts and geldings) and Golden Rod (fillies)...At the start of the closing weekend, only two horses had won three races at meeting: Friends Rare Form (3-3-0-0-$20,780) and Ima Kat Man (3-3-0-0-$7,140).

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