Agrivating General Wins Lone Star Opener Under Hall of Famer Pat Day

(April 3, 2003)- Crook tried to steal the show on opening night of Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie’s Thoroughbred season, but Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day displayed his trademark patience aboard 4-year-old Texas-bred Agrivating General to win the $50,000 Premiere Stakes on Thursday night.

Day, horse racing’s all-time earnings leader and one of only three jockeys in history to have ridden more than 8,000 winners, made a special appearance in Grand Prairie, Texas before heading to the prestigious Keeneland spring meet in Lexington, Ky. on Friday.

Riding the Danny Pish-trained Agrivating General, Day rallied the 9-5 second wagering choice from eighth to a hard-fought head victory over 25-1 longshot Crook, ridden by recent Sam Houston Race Park co-riding champ Don Simington.

“I rode with [Day] a lot over the years and I know when you get by him, he’s still not done,” Simington said. “He’ll come back on you every time.”

Day settled behind the leader early on and was still eighth of 10 through the first half-mile of the one-mile race for older Texas-breds. Midway through the final turn, though, Day asked for a run from his mount and got it. Agrivating General rallied three-wide past the field and was about to take the lead with an eighth of a mile to run.

But rallying just as furiously to Agrivating General’s outside was Crook, dismissed by bettors despite his two-for-three record at Lone Star Park. Simington ranged up next to Day, Crook and Agrivating General looked each other in the eye, and the battle was on.

Day went to work, urging his mount left-handed. The 4-year-old drifted out slightly, but was quickly straightened by Day, famous for his ability to know how much horse is under him.

“[Crook] ran up on the backside of him and he felt the pressure and responded to that,” Day said. “He came hard off the turn and in the drive he was really gutsy.”

Agrivating General, never worse than second in seven previous starts, dug in gamely and displayed the tenacity Pish praised earlier this week. Day and Agrivating General edged Simington and Crook by a hard-fought head.

“He’s a horse that trains aggressively and runs his heart out,” Pish said.
It was 3 ½ lengths back to Rare Cure, another longshot, in third. Favorite Term Sheet was an additional 2 ½ lengths back in fourth. Attacksum, Eye Witness, Desert Air, Won C C, Faxamillion and Fitzroyal completed the order of finish.

The winner broke the hundred-grand mark in earnings with the $30,000 winner’s share of the purse, increasing his total to $107,000 for owner Lonnie Bates. Handicappers who supported Agrivating General and his Hall of Fame rider earned $5.80 for every $2 win bet.

Bates, a retired electrical project manager from Tyler, Texas, was thrilled with the victory by his home-bred son of Vermont, out of the late mare Aggrivating.

“Agrivating General was her last foal,” Bates said. “When he was four months old, she passed.”

Aggrivating also produced Bates’ best horse, Miss Aggie Lue, the 1985 Louisiana Downs Champion Grass Mare.
The Premiere Stakes was run as the first race of the meeting, a Lone Star Park tradition since the track and the Premiere debuted in 1997.

For Day, it was his fifth career win at Lone Star Park, where he has ridden on multiple occasions, including five renewals of the NTRA Jockey Championship. The jockey arrived in Grand Prairie a day early on Wednesday to participate in the official announcement of Lone Star Park’s agreement to host the 2004 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

“It’s been a great time – the whole thing,” Day said of his Lone Star Park stay. “It was a privilege to be part of the contract signing of Lone Star Park getting the Breeders’ Cup next year. I had a wonderful time last night at the reception for the Lone Star Park Charitable Foundation for Grand Prairie and the Racetrack Chaplaincy of Texas.

“This morning, I went to the backside to renew some old acquaintances and do some interviews. Then, I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting with some friends of mine in Dallas. We came back for a luncheon with local clergy, and here we are in the winner’s circle tonight. Everything has gone great and it’s been a lot of fun.”

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