Big 'Cap Runner-Up Magnum Readies For Lone Star Park 'Cap

(May 24, 2006) - A $100,000 purse boost since last year is helping to lure the deepest field in race history for Monday's Grade III, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap. The top three finishers from April's Grade III Texas Mile-Preachinatthebar, Stockholder and Texcess-are all scheduled to return in the season's richest race, but they'll have to deal with a new shooter to these parts in Magnum, the runner-up in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap and last month's Grade II Oaklawn Park Handicap.

The Lone Star Park Handicap is the featured race on the annual Memorial Day program known as Lone Star Million. The richest annual day of racing in Texas comprises six stakes worth $1 million in purses. In addition to the Lone Star Park 'Cap, fans can look forward to the Grade III, $200,000 WinStar Distaff with defending champion Katdogawn, plus Grade I winner Sweet Talker and Grade II winner Shining Energy; the $150,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes for 3-year-olds with $75,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge champ Kip Deville, Grade III Crown Royal American Turf hero Stream Cat and Grade III Lone Star Derby runner-up Wait in Line; the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint starring Grade III Aegon Turf Sprint champ Man of Illusion; the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes for 3-year-old fillies including Grade II Fantasy Stakes third Brownie Points; and the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes for female sprinters like stakes winner G G's Dolly.

Magnum posted one of the year's highest Beyer Speed Figures in a North American route race with a 112 in his Big 'Cap (Santa Anita Handicap) effort. The race was won by Lava Man, the national earnings leading among older horses and the leading vote getter in the latest NTRA Thoroughbred Poll. Less than one length separated Lava Man and Magnum at the wire, 7 1/2 lengths ahead of the rest of the field.

Trainer Darrell Vienna believes Magnum is the type of horse that could end up running in the Breeders' Cup Classic this fall. "I do believe he is that good, but he really would need to earn his way because of the cost of supplementing him," Vienna said. "Tentatively what we're considering is the WinStar, the Hollywood Gold Cup and the Pacific Classic. Each one of those is a steppingstone, though, and if we slip on one of the stones we could change course."

Even thinking about the Breeders' Cup for the Argentine-bred Magnum would have been unthinkable last summer, when Magnum struggled through his first three races in North America.

"He always worked very well and he acted as if he would be an important horse, but it's not unusual for the horses coming form the Southern Hemisphere-especially when they begin racing in our summer, which is their winter-to take some time to get it all together," Vienna said. "I was starting to get frustrated with him just at the point when he turned the corner because he was promising more than he was delivering."

When Magnum did turn the corner, however, he exploded into one of the West Coast's top older horses. He earned a 106 Beyer for his 2006 debut, a 5 1/4-length win in a Santa Anita allowance. Next came the Big 'Cap, where he finished second at 17-1. Off the strength of such a huge effort in the West Coast's most important race for older horses, Magnum went off favored in the Oaklawn 'Cap. There he settled further off the pace than usual, making it impossible to catch eventual winner Buzzard's Bay, who bounced to an easy early lead and never looked back.

Magnum hasn't raced since the April 8 Oaklawn 'Cap, but has trained weekly at his Santa Anita Park base. Vienna said he came out of the Oaklawn race "like he didn't even run." Most recently, the 5-year-old worked six furlongs Friday in 1:12 2/5, handily, precisely the same as his previous move six days prior.

Patrick Valenzuela, tied for first in the Hollywood Park jockey standings entering Wednesday, will ride Magnum for the first time in the Lone Star Park 'Cap. "I think P-Val fits every horse, but this is a pretty straightforward horse to ride," Vienna said. "Martin [Pedroza] did a very good job with him, but he had a conflict with another very good horse, Charmo, running at Hollywood Park. I feel very fortunate we got a rider of Patrick's caliber. I think Patrick's really a rider without equal."

Vienna said Valenzuela worked Magnum on May 5 "just so he could get on him and get a feel for him."

The only horses to post higher Beyers than Magnum at one mile or more this season are Sinister Minister (116 in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes), Lava Man (113 winning the Big 'Cap), Wanderin Boy (113 in a Keeneland allowance) and Bernardini (113 in Saturday's Grade I Preakness Stakes).

Vienna said his other Lone Star Million nominee, Crystal Castle in the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint, is "fifty-fifty" to make the trip to Texas. "We worked him [Wednesday] morning and we're really on the fence about whether we're going to bring him," Vienna said. "He's older now and may not be what he was before. I suspect the company there is going to be of substantially higher quality [than his last race at Santa Anita]."

Motion Bringing Grade I Winner Sweet Talker for WinStar Distaff

Trainer Graham Motion returns to the sight of his biggest win, the 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf, with Grade I-winning filly Sweet Talker in Monday's Grade III, $200,000 WinStar Distaff. The daughter of Stormin Fever won her 2006 debut in last month's $60,000 Dahlia Stakes at Laurel Park, an easy start to a campaign that could establish her as one of the nation's premier turf distaffers.

"I think she was ready to go the first time back," Motion said. "We tried to find a sensible spot to bring her back in and I didn't want to overface her in her first start. I hadn't run her before so you never know what to expect. This is a logical progression and she's had plenty of time to recover from that race."

The Dahlia was Sweet Talker's first start for Motion since being purchased for $1.15 million out of the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale by Courtlandt Farms, the stable of Bryan, Texas, resident Don Adam.

Sweet Talker is an incredible six-for-eight on the turf and has never finished out of the top three. She has won three in a row entering the WinStar and five of her last six. Her 3-year-old campaign included three stakes wins, topped off with a nose triumph in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in October. "I think she's just a very honest, hard-trying filly," Motion said.

Sweet Talker had a final workout in preparation for the WinStar on Monday, breezing seven furlongs in 1:33 4/5 at Fair Hill Training Center, the Maryland complex that was Barbaro's home leading up to the Preakness Stakes.

"It's on a wood-chip surface and seven furlongs is actually a two-turn breeze," Motion said. "The wood-chip oval is inside the dirt oval. Anywhere between 1:30 and 1:34 on that surface is very respectable. It's a breeze that I do a lot here with my turf horses. She went nicely."

Ramon Dominguez, who rode Sweet Talker to victory in the Dahlia and was aboard for Monday's workout, will travel to Lone Star to ride in the WinStar. On October 30, 2004, Motion and Dominguez teamed to upset the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park with 27-1 shot Better Talk Now.

"My feelings are very good about coming back to Lone Star," Motion said. "I have very good memories of it."

Other contenders known to be pointing to the WinStar Distaff include defending champion Katdogawn, last year's Grade II San Clemente Handicap winner Shining Energy, graded stakes-placed Lock and Key, last month's $75,000 Irving Distaff winner Paz Ciudadana, the Irving Distaff runner-up My Misty Princess, the Keeneland allowance winner Joint Aspiration, the Santa Anita allowance winner Dancing Edie, the German Group 3 winner Peaceful Love, regional stakes winners Stela and Stretching, plus Remington Park allowance winner Caviar Emptor.

Harty to Try for Second Stonerside Win with Beholden

Trainer Eoin Harty will attempt to win the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes for the second consecutive year with Beholden, a promising Gulfstream Park allowance winner coming off a tough fifth in the Grade III La Troienne Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs.

The Stonerside is a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies. Last year, Harty upset the race with R Fast Lady, a speedy daughter of Artax, and hopes to get a similar race from Beholden.

"I think they're very similar, to be honest," Harty said of the two fillies. "They've got similar running styles and I hope I have the same result."

Beholden, a daughter of Cat Thief, won a one-mile first-level allowance at Gulfstream Park in March in 1:37 1/5. She went off at 7-1 in a deep field for the 7 1/2-furlong La Troienne, but broke outwards at the start, and then raced five-wide on the turn to reach contention before flattening out in the stretch.

"The only race in her life she's ever finished off the board was in her last start and that was a tough race, a very big step up in class," Harty said. "I think she's got a shot down there in Texas or I wouldn't be coming."

As for the incident at the start of the La Troienne, the trainer said handicappers should not be concerned about a repeat of such disadvantageous behavior. "She's always been good in the gate but sometimes these things happen," Harty said.

Beholden breezed five furlongs Wednesday morning in 1:01.70 over Belmont Park's main track with regular jockey Javier Castellano aboard. "She went really well," Harty said. "She's very fit. That was just a little something to take the edge off her."

Because Castellano is booked to ride in Monday's Grade I Metropolitan Handicap (the Met Mile) at Belmont Park, Harty has named Patrick Valenzuela to ride Beholden. The filly is campaigned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Darley Stable, the owners of Saturday's Preakness Stakes winner, Bernardini.

Lone Star Million Rundowns

GRADE III, $400,000 LONE STAR PARK HANDICAP - According to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources, here are the known possible runners for the Grade III, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds and up on Memorial Day (with jockey, trainer and assigned weight): Preachinatthebar (Jon Court, Bob Baffert, 121 pounds); Magnum-ARG (Patrick Valenzuela, Darrell Vienna, 117); Cosmonaut (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone, 116); Nakayama Kun (TBA, Akiko Gothard, 116); Real Dandy (TBA, Steve Asmussen, 116); Stockholder (TBA, Steve Asmussen, 116); Texcess (Aaron Gryder, Mike Mitchell, 116); Shamoan-IRE (TBA, Eoin Harty, 115); Dominguin-PER (TBA, Dante Zanelli Jr., 114); Gold and Roses (Norberto Arroyo Jr., Tom Bush, 115); Watchem Smokey (TBA, Brandon Marks, 115); and Wishingitwas (TBA, Bart Evans, 113).

GRADE III, $200,000 WINSTAR DISTAFF HANDICAP - According to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources, here are the known possible runners for the Grade III, $200,000 WinStar Distaff Handicap, a one-mile turf test for fillies and mares on Memorial Day (with jockey, trainer and assigned weight): Shining Energy (TBA, Julio Canani, 120 pounds); Sweet Talker (TBA, Gram Motion, 120); Katdogawn (Aaron Gryder, Wally Dollase, 119); Paz Ciudadana-CHI (TBA, Steve Asmussen, 117); Lock and Key-IRE (TBA, Ben Cecil, 116); My Misty Princess (TBA, Steve Asmussen, 116); Caviar Emptor (TBA, Joe Offolter, 115); Dancing Edie (TBA, Wally Dollase, 115); Joint Aspiration-GB (Julien Leparoux, 115); Peaceful Love-GER (TBA, Jeff Mullins, 115); Stela-CHI (TBA, Cole Norman, 115) and Stretching (TBA, Michael Stidham, 114).

$150,000 PIN OAK STUD USA STAKES - According to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources, here are the known possible runners for the $150,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds on Memorial Day (with jockey and trainer): Aver (TBA, Sherman Savoie); Desert Wheat (TBA, Tony Richey); Kip Deville (TBA, Mike Neatherlin); Stream Cat (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone); Tahoe Warrior (TBA, Todd Pletcher); and Wait in Line (TBA, Chris Hartman). Also known to be under consideration is Castles in the Sky (TBA, Donnie K. Von Hemel).

$100,000 BECK AUTO GROUP TURF SPRINT HANDICAP - According to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources, here are the known possible runners for the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint Handicap, a five-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up on Memorial Day (with jockey, trainer and assigned weight): Man of Illusion-AUS (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone, 120); Charming Socialite (TBA, Bill Pettit, 116); Crystal Castle (Patrick Valenzuela, Darrell Vienna, 115); Oncearoundtwice (TBA, John Locke, 115); K D King (TBA, Keith Dunaway, 113); War Bridle (TBA, Tommie Morgan, 113); and Sweepingly (Alfredo Juarez Jr., Chris Hartman, 110).

$100,000 STONERSIDE STAKES - According to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources, here are the known possible runners for the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies on Memorial Day (with jockey and trainer): Annie Savoy (TBA, Kari Craddock); Beholden (TBA, Eoin Harty); Brownie Points (TBA, Donnie K. Von Hemel); Downthedustyroad (TBA, Bob Baffert); Prahtheta (TBA, Glynn Winn); Rachelsarompin (TBA, Tim Dixon); Trick's Pic (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone); and White She Devil (TBA, Steve Asmussen). Also known to be under consideration is Open Meadows (TBA, Jack Bruner).

$100,000 VALID EXPECTATIONS STAKES - According to stakes coordinator Mike Shamburg and other sources, here are the known possible runners for the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares on Memorial Day (with jockey and trainer): Angel Baby (TBA, Dallas Keen); Cookin's Cast (TBA, Alan Love Sr.); G G's Dolly (TBA, Kelly Von Hemel); Ketchmewhereyoucan (TBA, Tommie Morgan); Red Lifesaver (TBA, Steve Asmussen); Trolley's Last (Julien Leparoux, Patrick Biancone); and True Tails (Jamie Theriot, Cole Norman). Also known to be under consideration are Bridal Gal (TBA, Mark Whitton), Expectant Diva (TBA, Randy Mayfield) and Follow the Lite (TBA, Bret Calhoun).

DOWN THE STRETCH: Trainer Greg Gilchrist announced Monday that champion sprinter Lost in the Fog will make his next start in the Grade III Aristides Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs on June 3 and not the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint. Gilchrist said the main factor in the decision he made with owner Harry Aleo was the need to get a start over the track that will host this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on Nov. 4...There will be no more Wednesday racing this season. The upcoming racing week features five days of action, Thursday to Monday, because of the special Memorial Day program May 29. After Memorial Day, racing will be conducted four days per week, Thursdays to Sundays, plus Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4. There will be no racing on Thursday, July 6.

By Jim Mulvihill
Additional reporting by Darren Rogers

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