|Waupaca Back to Defend Title in
Saturday's Connecting Terms Stakes at LSP
2006) - With not a drop of rain in sight and a firm course practically
guaranteed this weekend, five-time stakes winner Waupaca is finally
ready to come out and play at Lone Star Park. The 9-5 morning line
favorite in a field of eight older horses for Saturday's $40,000
Connecting Terms at 1 1/16-miles on turf, Waupaca was scratched
twice this season when showers forced turf races to an "off"
main track. After seeing Waupaca train in recent weeks while waiting
for the right conditions, rival trainers in Saturday's feature might
want to start doing their best rain dance.
The Connecting Terms is the featured live race on a special 12-race
program complementing the Preakness Stakes Day simulcast from Pimlico
Race Course in Baltimore, Md. Runaway Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro,
still unbeaten and looking to become the first Triple Crown winner
since Affirmed in 1978, is favored against previous foes Brother
Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint, plus a six-pack of new shooters that
includes Aqueduct Grade III winners Bernardini and Like Now.
The Preakness is scheduled to go off as Pimlico's 12th race at
5:14 p.m. CT, between Lone Star's eighth and ninth live races. Local
festivities include the return of Margarita Madness in the Courtyard
of Champions, courtesy of Jose Cuervo, with live music by Panamania
from noon to 4 p.m. The Post Time Pavilion simulcast center will
open early at 8:30 a.m., one hour before the first simulcast race
from Pimlico. Grandstand gates open at 11:30 a.m. and the first
live race is set for 1:35 p.m. CT (the 12th and final race is scheduled
for 7:07 p.m. CT). Drive-Thru Wagering off Gate 2 will be open all
afternoon starting at 8 a.m.
The Connecting Terms will be run as the 11th race at 6:40 p.m.
The 6-year-old Waupaca enters the race off a fourth-place finish
in last month's John B. Connally Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap at
Sam Houston. The son of Forest Wildcat is heading down a path identical
to the one he has traveled the past two seasons, pointing to the
Grade III, $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup in June and the Independence
Day Handicap at Louisiana Downs on the Fourth of July. Last year
Waupaca earned his first win of the season in the Connecting Terms,
then ran fourth in the Dallas Turf Cup and won the Independence
"He was doing well this time last year and he's doing well
this year," trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said. "There's
not a lot of difference between five years old and six years old.
He should be very competitive in there."
Saturday's forecast for Grand Prairie, Texas, on The Weather Channel's
weather.com calls for sunny skies and zero chance of precipitation.
In lieu of racing on wet main tracks he doesn't like, Waupaca has
trained aggressively in anticipation of a clear day. Horses from
Von Hemel's barn do not typically post flashy workout times in the
mornings, which makes Waupaca's recent breezes all the more impressive.
He breezed four furlongs in :49 on Sunday, five furlongs in a bullet
:59 4/5 on May 8 and four furlongs in :47 4/5 on May 1. "The
one time we worked him in company, but the rest of them have been
on his own," Von Hemel said. "He's been on his toes."
Each of the three times Waupaca has breezed over the main track
this month, he's outworked Von Hemel's other charges going the same
distance by at least two seconds, or a minimum of ten lengths.
Not that anyone has been scared off by the presence of Waupaca.
The seven challengers are an accomplished group in their own right,
including stakes winners Courtly Jazz, A R Crakers and Agrivating
Courtly Jazz, the 5-2 second choice, will make his second start
for the hot trainer and jockey combination of Cody Autrey and Cliff
Berry. The Dixieland Band gelding was third in the allowance prep
for this race that was washed off the turf. Last summer he won the
$100,000 Ralph Hinds Invitational at Fairplex in Southern California.
A R Crackers, the 6-1 third choice, ran fifth in the Connally,
just a nose behind Waupaca. The 5-year-old son of With Approval
ran fifth in last year's Connecting Terms.
Agrivating General, a multiple Lone Star Park stakes winner, enters
this race off a second in the $40,000 Gold Nugget Stakes on May
6. The 7-year-old Texas-bred gelding, 8-1 on the morning line, has
but one win on the turf but is stakes-placed on four occasions trying
The field is rounded out by the top two finishers from the May
5 off-the-turf allowance prep, Toratora (15-1) and Seainsky (5-1),
as well as other recent allowance winners Nobodywantmetilnow (10-1)
and Kanata Ridge (20-1).
Von Hemel Has High Hopes for Altimeter on Friday
Donnie K. Von Hemel will send out a filly he thinks could be a
future stakes horse in Friday's sixth race, a $28,000 second-level
allowance for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs. Altimeter, the
6-5 favorite, has won both her starts this meeting in impressive
fashion. The daughter of Monarchos won a maiden special weight by
two lengths opening weekend, followed by a 3 1/2-length entry-level
allowance score on May 4.
"Watching her last two races it'd be hard not to think she's
stakes-caliber," Von Hemel said. "We'll see what she does
[Friday] night, but she's pretty talented."
Altimeter will have to deal with Elliecat, a Cole Norman trainee
who passed her first-level allowance condition in a 1 1/4-length
romp on opening weekend. The daughter of Crafty Prospector worked
four furlongs well off the rail on May 7 over a muddy surface in
:47 2/5, a sign that she should be ready to run another big one
Altimeter was one of three fillies owned by Pin Oak Stable that
Von Hemel nominated to the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes at seven furlongs
on Memorial Day, May 29, but will not take on her more accomplished
stablemate Brownie Points, third in the Grade II Fantasy Stakes
at Oaklawn Park.
"Since I've got another filly of Pin Oak's that's going to
run in the Stonerside, that gave me the opportunity to go ahead
and run this filly in the allowance race," Von Hemel said.
Pin Oak and Von Hemel's third Stonerside nominee, Ever and Anon,
is the 7-2 morning line second choice in Friday's seventh race,
a first-level allowance at one mile on turf.
Preakness 131 Souvenir Wristbands to Benefit Disabled Jockeys
Lone Star Park will help raise money for the Permanently Disabled
Jockeys Fund through the sale of Preakness 131 golden souvenir wristbands
beginning Saturday, the day of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race
Course in Baltimore, Md. The wristbands are similar to those used
by other charitable organizations to raise awareness through a display
of unity, as first popularized by the Lance Armstrong Foundation's
yellow LIVESTRONG armlet.
Wristbands will be available for a $5 donation at the East Grandstand
entrance through June 10. All Magna Entertainment Corp. facilities,
including Pimlico, will participate in the "Taking the Reins"
The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fun was established by a consortium
of racetracks and racing organizations-including Magna, Churchill
Downs Inc. and the New York Racing Association-with the goal of
raising $1 million by June 15. All proceeds will go toward healthcare
and living expenses for the 60 permanently disabled riders in the
Those unable to visit a MEC facility are encouraged to send donations
to: NTRA Charities, Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, c/o NTRA,
2525 Harrodsburg Road, Suite 500, Lexington, Ky., 40504.
DOWN THE STRETCH: Quincy Hamilton won
two races Wednesday night to move into a tie with Cliff Berry atop
the jockey standings with 35 wins each...Sunday is Senior Citizens'
Day at Lone Star Park with free general admission for fans 62 and
over with valid photo identification...Dr Pepper can month continues
through May and June. Redeem a Dr Pepper can each live race day
to receive $1 general admission, a free large Dr Pepper and the
opportunity to win a night at the races in a private suite...The
Lone Star Park qualifying tournament for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA
National Handicapping Championship has been scheduled for June 17-18.
The early-bird entry fee is $150 per person through June 2 ($250
after). To enter contact Kristen Foster at 972-237-1134 or email@example.com.
By Jim Mulvihill
Additional reporting by Darren Rogers