Hunch Bet: America America Wins $100,000 Lone Star Oaks at Lone Star Park

(July 4, 2004)- It was only fitting that a 3-year-old filly named America America won the $100,000 Lone Star Oaks on Independence Day. The iron filly, who made her 24th appearance in a stakes race, sat patiently in second for most of the race then kicked clear in the stretch and held off a late rally by favorite Topango to win by a neck in front of an estimated 24,000 fans at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

"[Jockey] Casey [Lambert] and I were talking in the jocks' room and I said, 'She's got to win tonight being America America,'" said winning jockey Roman Chapa.

America America ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:43.96 and paid $13.60, $5 and $4.20. Topango, 1 ¾ lengths clear of third place finisher Dancing Meg, paid $3 and $2.80 as the 7-5 favorite. Longshot Dancing Meg returned $7.

French-born trainer Frank Mourier felt before the race that America America, who was vanned from Kentucky to Texas on Thursday, was only "80-percent" fit for the race because she is currently in foal to El Prado.

"If I was a handicapper, I would say there might be other ones in the race who are better," Mourier said Wednesday. "I have not pushed on her for this race like I have in the past. She needs for it to set up in a particular way. I should not say exactly what that is, because that is our strategy."

Apparently, their strategy worked. America America saved ground on the first turn, then was moved off the rail by Chapa early down the backstretch. She tracked pacesetter Kurlicue on the outside through fractions of :24.70 for the first half-mile, :49.23 for the half and 1:13.60 for three-quarters of a mile. America America took the lead at the top of the stretch, inched away in the final furlong and was all out to hold on under Chapa's right handed urging.

"It set up pretty good," Chapa said. "She dragged me to the front and I couldn't resist taking the lead at the quarter pole. She just did everything right today.

"[Topango] was the only horse I was worried about her catching me at the very end. My horse was kind of playing around, just kind of waiting for the other horses to come to her. But she saw that horse on the outside and she gave me another kick in the last couple yards."

America America entered the Lone Star Oaks off a second in the $40,000 Oliver Stakes at Indiana Downs. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Mister Baileys has run at 19 different tracks in four different countries, earning $393,050. Her most lucrative win came against males in November's $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile with Chapa aboard.

"Me and her get along real great," Chapa said. "She's an aggressive mare and you've just got to get along with her. The last race I rode her at Sunland Park [in March], I got in a lot of trouble. I don't know if I could've won the race but I know for sure I could've run second. I got in a lot of trouble and almost got dropped. I apologized [to Mourier] and I told him about it and he said, 'It's no big deal; that's just horseracing.' He's really nice."

Retirement was a possibility after the Lone Star Oaks, but Mourier may reconsider. "I really can't describe what I think," Mourier said while hot walking the filly back at the barn. "I don't know if she will race again. I will see if she's still happy [Monday], and if so, maybe she will race again."

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