Agrivating General Scores Premiere Repeat on Opening Night at LSP

(April 15, 2004)- With a late surge in the final sixteenth of a mile, Agrivating General ran down favored Desert Darby to win Thursday's $50,000 Premiere Stakes by a neck at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. The 5-year-old Agrivating General became the only repeat winner of the Texas-bred stakes, run as the first race of the Spring Thoroughbred Season in front of 11,107 fans at the home of this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Agrivating General and Desert Darby represent the last two Lone Star Park Champion Texas-breds. The 7-year-old Desert Darby pressed a fast early pace and drew clear in the stretch, but began to drift out in the final furlong. Agrivating General took advantage of the quick early fractions, gradually advancing from mid-pack around the second turn of the one-mile race. With a steady rush in the closing stages, Agrivating General inched past Desert Darby to win in 1:37.81, the fastest Premiere in three years.

The Premiere was Agrivating General's first race since the Star of Texas Stakes at Sam Houston in November.

"He's a game horse off the layoff," trainer Danny Pish said. "I take a lot of pride in running a lot of horses off the layoff that do well. I don't know why, it's not something I plan on doing. I just have a knack for it. Horses like 'General,' you don't even need a knack for it; he's just a game horse."

Agrivating General was ridden by Roman Chapa, aboard for the first time since the horse's maiden win at Lone Star Park in June 2002. The 32-year-old jockey finished the night with three wins, as did Eddie Martin Jr.

The winner, a son of Vermont, paid $8.20 as the second choice in wagering. Owner Lonnie Bates, a retired electrical project manager from Tyler, Texas, earned a first-place share of $30,000, increasing Agrivating General's earnings to $220,950.

"We knew he'd run good, but this was a heck of a field of horses," Bates said. "He ran a big race."

Desert Darby ran a game second after pressing an opening half-mile in :45.64, the fastest such split since the distance of the race was adjusted to one mile in 2001.

"We might've went a little too fast on the front end," said jockey Jeremy Beasley. "I couldn't believe the fractions we went in. Hey, the best horse won; it set up perfect for him."

The third and fourth-place finishers, 2002 Premiere winner Lights On Broadway and Fitzroyal, respectively, were the unfortunate recipients of outside post positions. Lights On Broadway, breaking from post position No. 9, rallied well for a non-threatening third, 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Fitzroyal, who broke from post 10 and ran very wide all the way. The order of finish was completed by Eye Witness, Catalissa, Saxton's Engine, Rare Cure, Record Assembly and Term Sheet.

The field, arguably the strongest of any Texas-bred race ever run at Lone Star Park, included eight stakes winners with a combined 26 stakes victories to their credit over the past four years.

Following the race, Pish revealed that Agrivating General had developed a serious foot abscess just two days earlier.

"Forty-eight hours ago, I came into the stall and he was three-legged," Pish said. "I had just got done touting him, saying he's training as good as ever. I said he was as good or better than a year ago, and right after I said that, I thought, 'Shutup, shutup.' And then about three hours later, I get back to the barn and he's packing one. He's sitting there with it suspended in the air - his left rear. We soaked him in warm saltwater for about five hours and packed that fluid. The next morning when we took the packing off, the abscess had busted. We put his shoe back on and went back to the racetrack - it was the same shoe I'd pulled off the night before with a pair of pliers because I didn't have any shoeing tools. It might even still be hurting that horse a little, but he wouldn't tell anybody. He's just not that way."

The Premiere was run as the first race of the meeting, a Lone Star Park tradition since the track and the Premiere debuted in 1997. Racing continues Friday at 6:35 p.m. with a nine-race card followed by a Willie Nelson concert.

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