Bob and John
-photo courtesy Lone Star Park

Bob and John
-photo courtesy Lone Star Park

Bob and John Beats Sweetnorthernsaint in Lone Star Park Handicap Thriller

(May 28, 2007) - Bob and John prevailed in a thrilling stretch duel to beat Sweetnorthernsaint by a quarter-length in Monday's Grade III, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap to cap a big day for jockey Garrett Gomez on Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie's ninth annual Lone Star Million program.

Gomez, who led all North American jockeys with $20.1 million in 2006, won each of Lone Star Park's three Grade III stakes events. In addition to Bob and John, Gomez was aboard $200,000 Ouija Board Handicap winner Lady of Venice for trainer Patrick Biancone and $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup Handicap champ Embossed for trainer Niall O'Callaghan.

Bob and John, owned by NFL Houston Texans owners Bob and Janice McNair, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.02 over a surface labeled "sloppy." For the seventh time in the last eight days, the Dallas-Fort Worth area was hit by showers and thunderstorms.

Bob and John paid $4.80, $2.60 and $2.10 as the 7-5 second choice. Sweetnorthernsaint, the odds-on 3-5 choice, returned $2.20 and $2.10. Jonesboro, who set the early pace under jockey Calvin Borel, was another 6 ¾ lengths back in third and paid $2.10. Real Dandy trailed the field another four lengths behind Jonesboro.

The field of older horses was reduced to four when Texas Mile winner Silent Pleasure was a late scratch due to an overnight bug bite. Owner/trainer Howard Scarberry had to treat the bite with medication that would not have been permitted on raceday.

Jonesboro broke from the inside post and set the early pace of :24.42 for the first quarter mile and :48.53 for the half with Bob and John tracking just behind in second and Sweetnorthernsaint in third. Bob and John engaged Jonesboro leaving the backstretch with Sweetnorthernsaint to his outside. The top two finishers battled head-and-head down the homestretch with Bob and John prevailing in deep stretch under strong handling by Gomez.

"My horse was doing it so easy and at the half-mile pole, I eased up to the leader, and then just before we turned for home I said, 'Let's go,' and he ran well for us all the way down the lane," said New York-based Gomez, whose horses earned $486,000 on the day. "Both horses were fighting really hard through the stretch and this little horse does everything so well. He's got a big heart and he tries hard."

Both jockey Mario Pino and trainer Michael Trombetta said Sweetnorthernsaint fought hard.

"He ran well," Pino said. "I gave him a nudge around the turn and it was just the two of us at that point. The winner hung on nicely. Those are two nice horses."

"He tried hard," Trombetta echoed. "Both Bob and John and Sweetnorthernsaint proved they are good horses. We just came out on the losing end today."

Borel said the conditions might have bothered Jonesboro.

"I don't think he liked the mud," Borel said. "You can't control Mother Nature."

Winning trainer Bob Baffert, who was inducted into Lone Star Park's Hall of Fame last month, collected his 13th Lone Star Park stakes win. He was unable to attend the race when his 2 ½-year-old son Bode came down with a fever at their home in Southern California.

The win was the fifth in 14 starts for Bob and John and the $240,000 winner's share of the purse boosted his career earnings to just under the million-dollar mark to $996,330.

"I'm really proud with the way he dug in because Sweetnorthernsaint is a heck of a horse," said John Adger, President of the McNair's Stonerside Stable. "We knew he'd take to the sloppy track because the surface was similar to the way it was when he won the Wood Memorial. We love Texas and we love Lone Star Park."

Baffert indicated that Bob and John would likely be pointed to the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup on June 30.


Despite rainy conditions, Saturday's on-track crowd of 16,196 at Lone Star Park was up 29.5% from last year's 12,508 and the largest Lone Star Million crowd since 17,362 attended in 2003.

The first 10,000 were given a free canvas Lone Star Million folding chair. When the chairs ran out, Lone Star Park officials called an audible and gave away sets of glassware leftover from a previous promotion.

"We tapped into about a thousand sets of glassware," Assistant General Manager G.W. Hail said. "Who could have asked for a better day under these rainy conditions? Obviously, we were concerned about the miserable weather all week, but the true racing fans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area responded with the quality racing and great promotions."

In addition to the giveaway, a few hundred fans lined up before the races to get free autographs from Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel and Preakness Stakes-winning trainer Steve Asmussen. Lone Star Park's next promotional giveaway is a 10th Anniversary 12-Pack Cooler on Saturday, June 16.


Silent Pleasure was denied a chance to join Dixie Dot Com (2001) as a winner of both the Texas Mile and Lone Star Park Handicap when he was scratched from Monday's Grade III, $400,000 event due to a bug bite. The 4-year-old colt, who has won four consecutive stakes events, was bitten by the bug in his stall Sunday night and owner/trainer Howard Scarberry had to treat the bite with medication that would not have been permitted on raceday.


The sensational 4-year-old French-bred filly Lady of Venice displayed her incredible turn of foot when she rallied from last under jockey Garrett Gomez to beat Brownie Points by 1 ¾ lengths in the Grade III, $200,000 Ouija Board Handicap.

Martin Schwartz's Lady of Venice, trainer Patrick Biancone's winner of the Grade III Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs last spring, remained unbeaten this year by running one mile over "soft" turf in 1:38.32. She paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10 as the odds-on 2-5 favorite. Brownie Points returned $3.20 and $2.40 as the 4-1 second choice. Rich Fantasy was a head back in third and paid $2.60.

The win was the sixth in nine career starts for Lady of Venice, who padded her career earnings to $439,521 thanks to the $120,000 winner's share of the purse.

"I was trying to weave my way though traffic but it didn't pan out, so I just wheeled her out at the quarter-pole because I didn't want to give her too much too do over this soft ground," Gomez said. "She's a remarkable filly and really fun to ride. Once we got around the first turn, she was waiting on my command. I had to sit there and wait to get to the outside, but once I put her out in the middle of the track I said 'Okay, just go ahead and do it.' She's a beautiful filly with a beautiful turn of foot."


Embossed, trained by Niall O'Callaghan, closed strongly in the stretch to beat Crested by three-quarters of a length in the Grade III, $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup Handicap.

Embossed, a 5-year-old Irish-bred son of Mark of Esteem, ran 1 1/8 miles over a "soft" turf course in 1:52.68 and paid $3.80, $2.60 and $2.20 as the 4-5 favorite. Crested, the 2-1 second choice, returned $3.60 and $3. Waupaca, who made his fourth consecutive start in the Dallas Turf Cup, finished another neck back of Crested in third and paid $2.60. More Than Regal was a nose back in fourth.

Garrett Gomez, who carried 117 pounds as the starting high weight, won the Dallas Turf Cup for the second time. He piloted El Gran Papa to victory in 2001 for trainer Bobby Frankel.

"My instructions were to keep him within five or six lengths of the early leaders, and I had to work on him early a bit to do that, but he settled in well," Gomez said. "When it came time for the real running, he hit another gear. He's a horse that finishes well. He's got a good kick and it showed closing into slow fractions."

The win was the fifth for Embossed in 23 career starts and the $120,000 winner's share jumped his career earnings to $441,233 for owner Gary Tanaka. Last fall, Embossed won the Grade III Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs.


Going Ballistic, owned by Mike and Mary Kindred of Dallas, rallied to beat Later Gater by a half-length in the $100,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes. Lone Star Park's all-time win leader Cliff Berry rode the winner for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel.

"Donnie told me to sit back and let him go at the three-eighths pole," Berry said. "When I pulled a goggle down at the half-mile, he grabbed the bit and I said 'Alright, I have some horse.' I thought about going five-wide around the turn, but I said I have to take a chance and go inside, and it worked out beautiful."

Going Ballistic, a 3-year-old Florida-bred son of Lite the Fuse, ran 1 1/16 miles over a "soft" turf course in 1:45.29 and paid $8, $4.20 and $3 as the 3-1 second choice. Later Gater returned $10.60 and $4.60. Beta Capo, the 6-5 favorite, was another three-quarters of a length back in third and paid $2.80.

The win was the fourth in 12 lifetime starts for Going Ballistic and was worth $60,000, raising his career earnings to $283,242. "The horse ran a big race today and Cliff did a nice job," Von Hemel said.

Last year as a 2-year-old, Going Ballistic won a pair of $100,000 stakes, the El Joven at Retama Park and Remington Park MEC Mile. "It's a great feeling," said Mike Kindred. "Mary and I have had a ball with this horse."


Cintarosa gave owner Jack Grunwald of Mansfield, Texas his first Lone Star Park stakes win when she rallied to beat previously unbeaten Moroccan Rose by 1 ½ lengths in the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes.

"This is big to get her first stakes win here," Grunwald said "It's really awesome."

Cintarosa, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Grand Slam, ran six furlongs over a "sloppy" main track in 1:12.00 and paid $16.40, $7.60 and $4. Moroccan Rose returned $4.80 and $4. Yo Fanci was another head back in third and paid $3.80.

"We were concerned about the track condition with her being so big, but she handled it well," said winning trainer Steve Asmussen, the former trainer of Valid Expectations who collected his 11th career Lone Star Million stakes win. It also was the fourth time that Lone Star's 41-year-old all-time leading trainer has won the race. He won it in 1999 with Little Sister (via dead heat with Prospector's Song), 2004 with Savorthetime (in a stakes and track record 1:07.82) and last year with Red Lifesaver.

Luis Quinonez rode the winner. "I just let my filly run her race," Quinonez said. "I was hoping they would go fast early and come back to us, and she came up to them pretty easy through the stretch."

The win was the fourth in 15 career starts for Cintarosa and was worth $60,000, raising her career earnings to $165,230.


Atlanta Highway drew away in the stretch to easily beat 9-5 favorite Gallant Dreamer by 6 ½ lengths in the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Atlanta Highway, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Chief Seattle, ran seven furlongs under jockey Richard Eramia in 1:24.55 over a "sloppy" main track and paid $9.20, $3.80 and $3.40 as the 7-2 third betting choice. Gallant Dreamer returned $3.40 and $3.20. She's Outrageous was another head behind in third and paid $3.80.

The win was the third in five career starts for Atlanta Highway and was worth $60,000, raising her career earnings to $106,770 for owner breeder Dede McGehee.

"She's done everything we've asked her to do and I think she's going to go a little further," said winning trainer Andy Leggio Jr. "I believe that being patience is one of my good traits as a trainer. I like to bring these fillies along slow; I think that's the key to them. My instructions to Richard were to keep her on the outside. I watched the previous races and most of the horses that won raced outside. I just thought it was the better part of the track."


Earlier on the card, jockey Kelsi Purcell won the first race of her career when 3-year-old filly Expect an Echo won a maiden claiming event at 5 ½ furlongs.

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