|Sweetnorthernsaint Slight 9-5 Choice
for Monday's Grade III, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap
(May 26, 2007) - Maryland-based 4-year-old gelding Sweetnorthernsaint,
the favorite in last year's Kentucky Derby and runner-up to Bernardini
in the Preakness Stakes, was made the 9-5 morning line favorite
for Monday's Grade III, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap after landing
the outside stall in a compact but talented field of five older
The 1 1/16-mile Lone Star Park Handicap anchors six consecutively-run
stakes events that comprise Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie's ninth
annual Lone Star Million. The special 11-race Memorial Day program,
featuring prize money totaling $1,172,500, begins at 1:35 p.m. CT.
The stakes action starts with Race 5 at 3:27 p.m. CT and concludes
with the Lone Star Park Handicap at Race 10, which has a scheduled
post time of 5:47 p.m. CT. An additional 50-cent, all-stakes Pick
4 has been added to the wagering menu and will cover Races 7-10.
All told, 43 horses, including 25 stakes winners, were entered
Saturday for Monday's six stakes events. Together, they've won 184
races and almost $10 million (an average of $231,815 per horse).
Nine entries are graded stakes winners, including each horse in
the Lone Star Park Handicap.
Sweetnorthernsaint, scheduled to arrive in Texas on Sunday aboard
an H.E. "Tex" Sutton Forwarding Co. charter flight, will
be challenged by the Texas Mile one-two finishers, Silent Pleasure
and Bob and John; Essex Handicap champ Jonesboro, who'll be ridden
by Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel; and Real Dandy, the
only locally-based starter from the barn of Lone Star Park's all-time
leading trainer Steve Asmussen, who leads all trainers with 10 career
Lone Star Million stakes wins.
The Randy Morse-trained Jonesboro, fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap
last time out, was one of six Lone Star Million participants that
arrived at 11:15 a.m. Friday following a flight from Kentucky. Silent
Pleasure, owned and trained by Howard Scarberry, was checked into
the Lone Star Park stable area at 8 p.m. Friday after a van ride
from his Louisiana base. Bob and John, campaigned by Bob and Janice
McNair and trained by Bob Baffert, was the lone runner aboard a
California flight Saturday and checked into the stable area at noon.
Sweetnorthernsaint, trained by Michael Trombetta and to be ridden
by Mario Pino, enters the Lone Star Park Handicap off a second-place
finish to the Todd Pletcher-trained Master Command in the Grade
III National Jockey Cub Handicap at Hawthorne on April 21.
"It was nice to know that Master Command wasn't going to be
here," Trombetta quipped. "He's a very intimidating and
nice animal. I think we have a couple of good challengers in Monday's
race with the three of us weighted at 120 [pounds]. It ought to
be an exciting time for all of us."
Rick Lee, Lone Star Park's track handicapper and morning line oddsmaker,
said it was difficult to separate Sweetnorthernsaint, Bob and John,
Silent Pleasure and Jonesboro.
"I really struggled with who to make the morning line favorite,"
Lee admitted. "Whenever I struggle, that tells me it's a great
betting race. You can make a good case for four of the five in this
field; it's outstanding. I think Sweenorthernsaint is the most recognizable
horse off his romping win in the 2006 Illinois Derby, his second
place finish behind Bernardini in the Preakness, and he was the
favorite in last year's Kentucky Derby. He brings some really nice
credentials into this race, including a nice stakes win at Laurel
two races ago, and then he finished behind an exceptional horse
in Master Command in the National Jockey Club Handicap at Hawthorne."
Despite Silent Pleasure's determined neck victory over Bob and
John in the Grade III, $300,000 Texas Mile on April 28, Lee made
the runner-up the 2-1 second choice. Silent Pleasure, who'll attempt
to join Dixie Dot Com (2001) as a Texas Mile-Lone Star Park Handicap
champ, is the early 3-1 third betting choice.
"That was a tough call to make," Lee said. "Bob
and John has the strongest Ragozin Speed Figure in the race, so
their devotees will probably be playing Bob and John. Also, the
pace of the race favors Bob and John. Jonesboro will certainly shoot
for the lead from his rail position. Silent Pleasure has good early
speed. Sweetnorthernsaint is always close up. I think people looking
at this race from a pace set-up . . . Bob and John will be their
Trombetta said that, unlike last time in the National Jockey Club
Handicap, Sweetnorthernsaint would likely sit just behind the early
pacesetters on Monday.
"We had no choice at Hawthorne with the short field where
we broke out of the one-hole," Trombetta said. "We kind
of had to hustle things along there. In a perfect world, our horse
likes to stalk a horse or two and run that way. But he's versatile
enough that if there's a slow pace he'll press that along as well."
Here's the complete field, from the rail out, for the 11th running
of the Lone Star Park Handicap (with jockey, trainer, assigned weight
and morning line odds): Jonesboro (Calvin Borel, Randy Morse, 117,
9-2); Real Dandy (Luis Quinonez, Steve Asmussen, 114, 10-1); Bob
and John (Garrett Gomez, Bob Baffert, 120, 2-1); Silent Pleasure
(Tracy Hebert, Howard Scarberry, 120, 3-1); and Sweetnorthernsaint
(Mario Pino, Michael Trombetta, 120, 9-5).
Together, the cast has won 28 of 94 starts and $3.2 million (an
average of more than $640,000 per horse).
LADY OF VENICE HEADS OUIJA BOARD HANDICAP
Bob and John's pilot Garrett Gomez, who led all jockeys in money-won
last year with more than $20.1 million, also has the mount aboard
the much-heralded 4-year-old filly Lady of Venice for trainer Patrick
Biancone in the Grade III, $200,000 Ouija Board Handicap (formerly
known as the WinStar Distaff). She was made the even-money favorite
in a field of eight fillies and mares that also includes stakes
winners Brownie Points and Rich Fantasy. A winner of the Grade III
Regret at Churchill Downs last summer, Lady of Venice is using Monday's
one-mile turf race as a steppingstone to the Grade II CashCall Mile
Invitational Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 6.
KENTUCKY INVADERS EMBOSSED, CRESTED HEAD DALLAS TURF CUP
Kentucky invaders Embossed-IRE and Crested-GB, 8-5 and 2-1, respectively,
lead the field for the Grade III, $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup Handicap.
Embossed, trained by Niall O'Callaghan, won the Grade III Kentucky
Cup Turf last fall and was most recently fourth in Santa Anita's
San Juan Capistrano Handicap. Meanwhile, the Wally Dollase-trained
Crested finished a close fourth in the Grade II Arcadia Handicap
at Santa Anita on April 7 and followed that effort with an impressive
allowance win at Churchill Downs three weeks later.
Waupaca, a four-time winner over the Lone Star Park turf course
but winless at the 1 1/8-mile distance, will contest the Dallas
Turf Cup for the fourth straight year. Chicago-based Grade III winner
Major Rhythm is back for another try after finishing third in the
2005 renewal behind Sea Dub. Last year's champ, Trial by Jury from
the Bruce Jackson barn, also returns to defend his Dallas Turf Cup
UNBEATEN MOROCCAN ROSE MEETS TRUE TAILS, OTHERS IN VALID
Unbeaten Moroccan Rose is the mild 5-2 early choice for her stakes
debut in the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes, a six-furlong sprint
for fillies and mares. After winning her first three starts by a
combined 19 ½ lengths, she'll have to meet the fleet-footed
multiple stakes winner True Tails and Iowa invader Seekingthereinbow,
who has won eight of her 10 career starts.
CREAM ONLY LIVE FOR ASMUSSEN IN STONERSIDE STAKES; REMATCH
ON TAP FOR USA STAKES
Instant Racing Breeders' Cup Stakes winner Cream Only from the
Asmussen outfit heads the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes for 3-year-old
fillies at seven furlongs. Meanwhile, the top three 3-year-olds
from the April 28 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge - Beta Capo, Western
Prize and Going Ballistic - are scheduled for a rematch in the $100,000
Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
It appears almost certain that for the seventh time in nine years
of the Lone Star Million that the turf course will be labeled something
other than "firm" due to a recent deluge of rain. About
two inches of rain has fallen in Grand Prairie, Texas since Monday
and the only day it hasn't rained was Wednesday. All told more than
6.6 inches of rain has fallen this month, up 57% from the average
of 4.2 inches. As a result, there hasn't been a turf race at Lone
Star Park since May 20, and 57 scheduled turf races were transferred
to the main track though the first 27 days of the 67-day meet.
"Once we get some wind and sun, the track with the sand in
it usually dries out within a three or four hour period," said
Lone Star Park Director of Track Maintenance George McDermott said
of the main track. "It becomes more challenging if we get rain
in between like we've been having."
About the turf course, McDermott said: "Last summer after
the meet, we were very aggressive with the fertilizing program and
that improved the root system that goes into the ground and holds
it together. It gives stability and the horse a good bite on the
track. When it rains like this it can take it, but like a lawn or
anything else that has an immense amount of rain, it needs some
time to dry out, too. Right now its soft and it'll take a good day
to dry out but it's safe and we'll get those big races over the
turf on Monday."
More rain fell at Lone Star Park on Saturday, but the racetrack
was upgraded from "sloppy" to "muddy" for the
third race as the sun cracked through the mostly cloudy skies. The
National Weather Service forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies
with a high near 80 and a 40-percent chance of thunderstorms on
Sunday. The prognostication for Monday is mostly cloudy skies, an
82-degree high and a 30-percent chance of showers.
On track, Lone Star Park has plenty of activities to complement
the live racing.
FREE LONE STAR MILLION CHAIRS WHILE SUPPLIES LAST
All customers with a paid admission to Lone Star Park on Memorial
Day will receive a free Lone Star Million folding quad chair. The
handy forest green canvas chairs - complete with a carrying case
- are free with a $3 general admission while supplies last.
BOREL, ASMUSSEN AUTOGRAPH SIGNING FROM 12-1 P.M.
Both Borel, the regular rider of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense,
and Asmussen, who saddled Curlin to a head victory over Street Sense
in last weekend's Preakness Stakes, will partake in a free autograph
session before Monday's races from 12-1 p.m. inside Lone Star Park's
East Gate Entrance.
MEMORIAL DAY REMEMBRANCE IN WINNER'S CIRCLE AT 1 P.M.
Pearl Harbor survivors will be on hand Monday for a pre-race remembrance
in the winner's circle to honor our country's past and present war
heroes. There will be a color guard presentation at 1 p.m. by members
of the Naval Air Force Station in Fort Worth, plus Jimmy McNeil
of Waxahachie, Texas will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner"
and "God Bless America."
LIVE MUSIC, ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Between live races, country music artist Scott McCurry will perform
in the Courtyard of Champions from 12-4 p.m. Other Lone Star Million
Day entertainment includes pony rides, a petting zoo and bounce
houses for kids in the Family Fun Park.
TELEVISED ON HRTV
Those who can't make it to Lone Star Park on Memorial Day can watch
the action on HRTV (Channel 404 on the DISH Network).
BELOW ARE THE FIELDS FOR THE REMAINING LONE STAR MILLION
$100,000 PIN OAK STUD USA STAKES - Here's
the field for Monday's fifth race (3:27 p.m. CT), the 11th running
of the $100,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile turf test
for 3-year-olds, from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning
line odds): Spoonerism (Justin Shepherd, Danny Pish, 10-1); Later
Gater (Ramsey Zimmerman, George Handy, 20-1); Western Prize (Garrett
Gomez, Steve Asmussen, 5-2); Cherokee Wind (Glen Murphy, Joe Lucas,
10-1); Beta Capo (Luis Quinonez, Steve Asmussen, 2-1); Crosstown
(Bobby Walker Jr., Bret Calhoun, 10-1); Artic Heat (Richard Eramia,
Robert Listen, 20-1); and Going Ballistic (Cliff Berry, Donnie K.
Von Hemel, 3-1). Together, the field of eight has won 21 of 41 starts
and more than $790,000.
$100,000 VALID EXPECTATIONS STAKES -
Here's the field for Monday's sixth race (3:55 p.m. CT), the 11th
running of the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes, a six-furlong
sprint for fillies and mares, from the rail out (with jockey, trainer
and morning line odds): Moroccan Rose (Filemon Rodriguez, Frank
Betancourt, 5-2); Seekingthereinbow (Cliff Berry, Kelly Von Hemel,
15-1); True Tails (Carlos Gonzalez, Jorge Lara, 3-1); Yo Fanci (Justin
Shepherd, Joe Petalino, 6-1); Kat Nan Do (Calvin Borel, Cody Autrey,
8-1); Cintarosa (Luis Quinonez, Steve Asmussen, 6-1); and Tempting
Date (Ramsey Zimmerman, Chris Hartman, 4-1). Together, the cast
of seven has won 35 of 73 races and more than $1 million.
GRADE III, $200,000 DALLAS TURF CUP HANDICAP
- Here's the field for Monday's seventh race (4:23 p.m. CT), the
11th running of the Grade III, $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup Handicap,
a 1 1/8-mile turf race for older horses, from the rail out (with
jockey, trainer, assigned weight and morning line odds): Major Rhythm
(Earlie Fires, Ed Beam, 116, 5-1); Brego (Eguard Tejera, Bruce Jackson,
113, 20-1); More Than Regal (Luis Quinonez, Steve Asmussen, 114,
10-1); Waupaca (Quincy Hamilton, Donnie K. Von Hemel, 116, 9-2);
Embossed-IRE (Garrett Gomez, Niall O'Callaghan, 117, 8-5); Crested-GB
(Shaun Bridgmohan, Wally Dollase, 115, 2-1); Trial By Jury (Richard
Eramia, Bruce Jackson, 114, 20-1). Together, the field of seven
has won 45 of 196 starts and more than $2.6 million.
$100,000 STONERSIDE STAKES - Here's the
field for Monday's eighth race (4:51 p.m. CT), the ninth running
of the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old
fillies, from the rail out (with jockey, trainer and morning line
odds): Cat Splendor (Quincy Hamilton, Donnie K. Von Hemel, 12-1);
Waterloo Slew (Garrett Gomez, C.R. Trout, 20-1); Gallant Dreamer
(Calvin Borel, Tom Amoss, 5-2); She's Got Thefever (Larry Taylor,
Terry Eoff, 30-1); She's Outrageous (Ramsey Zimmerman, Chris Hartman,
8-1); Cream Only (Luis Quinonez, Steve Asmussen, 8-5); Round Lake
(Cliff Berry, Donnie K. Von Hemel, 8-1); and Atlanta Highway (Richard
Eramia, Andy Leggio Jr., 7-2). Together, the field has won 14 of
56 starts and more than $446,000.
GRADE III, $200,000 OUIJA BOARD HANDICAP (FORMERLY
THE WINSTAR DISTAFF) - Here's the field for Monday's
ninth race (5:19 p.m. CT), the 11th running of the Grade III, $200,000
Ouija Board Handicap, a one-mile turf event for fillies and mares,
from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, assigned weight and morning
line odds): Sweet Idea (Cliff Berry, Bret Calhoun, 114, 20-1); Brownie
Points (Luis Quinonez, Donnie K. Von Hemel, 118, 3-1); Prospectors
Spirit (Bryan McNeil, Michael Gass II, 112, 30-1); My Three Sisters
(Shaun Bridgmohan, Steve Asmussen, 115, 12-1); Barbette (Quincy
Hamilton, Danny Pish, 110, 30-1); Rich Fantasy (Calvin Borel, Ronny
Werner, 117, 4-1); D Fine Okie (Don Pettinger, Donnie K. Von Hemel,
114, 12-1); and Lady of Venice-FR (Garrett Gomez, Patrick Biancone,
118, 1-1). Together, the group has won 41 of 137 races and more
than $1.7 million.