Gold Storm, That Tat Could Meet in Friday's Ford Express Stakes at LSP; Kick-Starts Kentucky Derby Weekend

(April 30, 2006) - Two of the most exciting sprinters to burn up the Lone Star Park track in the past several years, Gold Storm and That Tat, are hoping to make Friday's $50,000 Ford Express Stakes at the Grand Prairie, Texas oval.

The Friday night showdown will kick off a jam-packed Kentucky Derby weekend at Lone Star Park. Fans who come out for Friday's 10-race program can wager in advance on the next day's Run For the Roses. There's also a Party at the Park with live music by Phantom Fire in the Courtyard of Champions from 7-11 p.m. First post is 6:35 p.m. Live racing will be preceded by the simulcast of the Kentucky Oaks Day card from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Lone Star Park is the place to be on Saturday, with the Kentucky Derby simulcast highlighting a day that also includes two stakes races on a super-sized 12-race program, plus the annual Cinco de Mayo Celebration and a $500 Best Hat Contest. The Cinco de Mayo party features live music by Latin Fire and the always-popular RoboSurfer mechanical surfboard. The Post Time Pavilion will open for simulcast wagering at 9 a.m., one hour before first post from Churchill Downs at 10 a.m. CT. Grandstand gates will open early at 10:30 a.m. and the first live race is set for 1:35 p.m. Post time for the 132nd Kentucky Derby is 5:04 p.m. CT.

Friday's Ford Express is shaping up as one of the best renewals ever of Lone Star Park's premier main-track sprint. The Southwest region is known for its speed and the six-furlong Ford Express annually attracts the fastest local and regional sprinters around. With a Breeders' Cup Sprint veteran and a former Lone Star Park seasonal champion pointing to this year's edition, the Ford Express promises to be a hypersonic humdinger.

Gold Storm Back From Year-Long Layoff

Gold Storm, a three-time winner in Grand Prairie, developed into a top-class sprinter in 2004 and was one of only a handful of locally based horses to run in the 2004 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Lone Star Park. He finished ninth, four lengths behind winner Speightstown, despite a wide trip. That race capped a year that included two stakes wins and multiple Beyer Speed Figures of 111.

As a 5-year-old last season, Gold Storm started the year with consecutive stakes wins before a disappointing 10th in the Grade III Churchill Downs Handicap on the Kentucky Derby undercard. He hasn't raced since, but trainer Bubba Cascio thinks Gold Storm could be ready to fire off the one-year layoff.

"He pulled a suspensory," Cascio said about the time off. "We gave him eight months. His last three works were all bullets. We're trying to not let him work that fast, naturally, but he's training well."

Gold Storm's last two workouts, both at a half-mile, were timed in :46 1/5 (Thursday) and :47 (April 18). On April 10, the Seeking the Gold gelding breezed three furlongs in :34 4/5.

Cascio said a final decision on Friday's race will be made after Gold Storm works again Monday.

That Tat Going Strong at 8

As for That Tat, the 8-year-old will be running in his fourth consecutive Ford Express. He won the 2003 renewal en route to being named that season's Lone Star Park Champion Sprinter. He also won that year's Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint. Since then, That Tat has finished second (2004) and fourth (2005) in this race. He remains one of the region's top sprinters, however, having won the $50,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn Park in March.

"Then he came back in the Count Fleet and he ran his eyeballs out," trainer Cole Norman said. "Even though he ran fourth he ran a hard, hard race that day. I think the winner had a 116 Beyer. We just missed third and the horses that ran one-two were ship-ins. I just hope he didn't leave that race on the track, but he's always a fighter."

That Tat has won 17 of 52 career starts, including eight stakes wins, and earned $599,985.

As Norman said, "Not bad for a $20,000 claim, is it?"

Norman will also enter Grand Bank, winner of last year's Island Whirl Handicap at Louisiana Downs, who had a strong four-furlong workout in :47 4/5, handily, at Lone Star Park on Sunday.

Saturday Stakes Preview

In order to enhance the Kentucky Derby Day experience locally, Lone Star Park offers a stakes doubleheader Saturday on an expanded 12-race card. The $50,000 Richland Hills Farm Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs, is attracting an intriguing mix of stakes winners, like Annie Savoy, and promising recent allowance winners. The $40,000 Gold Nugget Stakes, for older Texas-breds at 7 ½ furlongs on turf who haven't won a stakes race this year, is an "overnight" stakes, meaning there are no nominations necessary and any interested horse can declare their intention to run when entries are taken Thursday.

DOWN THE STRETCH: Hours of operation for Drive Thru Wagering off Gate 2 will be extended Saturday from 8 a.m. until 5:04 p.m. - post time for the Kentucky Derby...Dr Pepper Can Month begins Wednesday. On live race days in May, redeem a Dr Pepper can to receive $1 general admission, a free large Dr Pepper and the chance to win a night at the races in a Penthouse Suite at Lone Star Park...The Post Time Pavilion celebrates its 10th anniversary on Wednesday with a birthday blowout starting when doors open at 10:30 a.m. "Star Player Rewards" members will receive free admission all day, as well as double reward points. There will be prize drawings every hour from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all in attendance and free birthday cupcakes for the first 500...Nominations are due Wednesday for the Grade III, $300,000 Walmac Lone Star Derby on May 13. The 1 1/16-mile event annually pits the best regional 3-year-olds against nationally prominent sophomores and could produce a starter for the Grade I Belmont Stakes, the third leg of racing's famed Triple Crown. Past Lone Star Derby winners: Southern Africa (2005), Pollard's Vision (2004), Dynever (2003), Wiseman's Ferry (2002), Percy Hope (2001), Tahkodha Hills (2000), T.B. Track Star (1999), Smolderin Heart (1998) and Anet (1997)...Miscellaneous sales figures from Saturday's Dollar Day at Lone Star Park: 32,082 beers; 13,320 hot dogs; 4,876 sodas; and 1,148 popcorns...Jockey Cliff Berry will begin the week atop the jockey standings with 21 victories, but the hottest jockey during Week 3 was Jaime Theriot, who won with nine of 26 mounts (34.6%). Overall, Theriot is third with 15 wins, four back of Quincy Hamilton's 19 in second...Steve Asmussen is back in his familiar spot atop the Lone Star training standings with 18 victories, one more than Cody Autrey, who led through the first two weeks. Asmussen won with six of his 21 starters (28.6%) in Week 3. Trainer Bret Calhoun also had a stellar week, winning with five of his 13 starters (38.5%). He now is third in the training standings with 11 wins overall...Charles Fletcher and the Wimp Free Racing Stables partnership will begin the week tied atop the owner standings with four wins each.

By Jim Mulvihill
Additional reporting by Darren Rogers

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