Baffert Says Preachinatthebar, Downthedustyroad Ready For Lone Star Million

(May 25, 2006) - Grade III Texas Mile winner Preachinatthebar drilled five furlongs in :58 2/5 at Santa Anita Park on Wednesday, the fastest of 54 works at the distance, in anticipation of Monday's Grade III, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap. Owned by Mike Pegram and trained by Bob Baffert, the 5-year-old Preachinatthebar will attempt to become only the second horse to sweep Lone Star's two richest races for older horses, a feat first accomplished by Dixie Dot Com in 2001.

Baffert said that the lightning-fast move by Preachinatthebar was impressive, but that handicappers should not read too much into the fact that it was one of the horse's fastest workouts ever in a career riddled with bullet drills.

"The track was pretty quick [Wednesday]," Baffert said. "The other filly that I'm bringing down there worked pretty fast, too. When it rains out here [the surface] gets tight. But he had a nice work. All systems go!"

Jon Court, who rode Preachinatthebar to his last two wins in the Texas Mile and the Grade III Tokyo City Handicap at Santa Anita, was aboard for the workout, termed by clockers as having been accomplished "handily."

"He felt to me as good as he was last month, if not better," Court said. "I'm looking forward to it. Win, lose or draw I always have fun in Texas."

Easy for Court to say, considering he almost always wins at Lone Star. Last year Court won five stakes in Grand Prairie, including three on Lone Star Million Day. He now has seven career local stakes wins.

In other Lone Star Million news:

  • Baffert is especially high on his entrant in the seven-furlong $100,000 Stonerside Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Arkansas-bred Downthedustyroad. Owner Shirley Walls transferred the filly into Baffert's care after purchasing her privately last month, following a seven-length win in a state-bred second-level allowance/optional claiming event at Oaklawn Park. "She's very nice," Baffert said. "She's worked into the mix pretty well and I think she's very talented. She worked really, really well [Wednesday]." Downthedustyroad worked five furlongs in :58 3/5, handily, at Santa Anita, second-fastest of the day out of 54 works at the distance behind only stablemate Preachinatthebar. "She worked well in hand and she seems ready to go," Court added. "[Baffert] asked me what my opinion was and I said, 'Take her and run her because she'll win.'"
  • According to Racing Secretary Larry Craft there will be 24 shippers arriving aboard three planes for Monday's Lone Star Million. A Friday flight will originate in New York and pick up additional horses in Kentucky. The California invaders will arrive on a Saturday flight from Los Angeles. Trainer Patrick Biancone will ship all six of his entrants aboard a Monday morning flight from Kentucky.

Von Hemel Brothers Run Pair of Top Contenders

Brothers Donnie K. Von Hemel and Kelly Von Hemel each have a filly for Monday's Lone Star Million stakes extravaganza and both of them will be among the favorites in their respective races. Brownie Points, third in last month's Grade II Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park for Donnie, is the leading earner among probable starters for the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes off her third in the Grade II Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Meanwhile G G's Dolly, winner of the $50,000 Prairie Rose Stakes at Prairie Meadows for Kelly, comes into the $100,000 Valid Expectations as the "now" horse off three straight wins with Beyer Speed Figures in the 90s.

Pin Oak Stud homebred Brownie Points, by Forest Wildcat, is a stakes winner on dirt and turf. She won the one-mile $50,000 Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn in February by nearly three lengths. Next time out, in the 1 1/16-mile $75,000 Honeybee, favored Brownie Points was upset by Ermine, who later flattered the Honeybee field by running second in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks. The seven-furlong Stonerside for 3-year-old fillies will be the first start in a sprint this season for Brownie Points.

"I think we'll be competitive in there," Donnie said. "I don't think going into a seven-eighths race is that big a deal for her. There's probably going to be a little more pace than she's used to in the two-turn races, but she'll be coming from off the pace no matter what."

Brownie Points completed her serious preparations for the Stonerside on Monday with a four-furlong workout in :49 3/5. "A couple weeks before that [on May 9] she worked in :59 one morning, which is a little unlike her," Donnie said. "She'll work OK by herself, but she's not the type to post those black-letter works. I wanted a good work in her, but normally she might work in 1:01. That was all her."

Donnie said that, assuming everything goes well in the Stonerside, he would look at races like the July 1 $75,000 Lone Star Oaks and the Sept. 9 $75,000 Prairie Meadows Oaks for the filly's future starts. Luis Quinonez will ride Monday.

As for G G's Dolly, the 4-year-old sprinter has been remarkably consistent at six furlongs, the distance of Monday's Valid Expectations. The daughter of Comic Strip is undefeated in three starts this year and ended last season with three straight second-place finishes. She has never finished worse than second in 10 main-track starts and her only off race was a 10th-place finish in a turf experiment last summer at Ellis Park. She earned a Beyer of 93 in the Prairie Rose.

Kelly Von Hemel is based at Prairie Meadows in Iowa, but shipped his filly to brother Donnie last week to prepare for her Memorial Day engagement. "It's positive that she's trained and galloped well and had a decent work," Donnie said. "No nicks or anything."

G G's Dolly worked over the Lone Star surface on Wednesday, breezing four furlongs in :48 3/5. Kelly decided to have her break off with a pony. "When we do that she relaxes better early on and she finished very well," Kelly said. "We were looking for :49 and she went in :48 3/5."

Kelly said that Perry Compton, who rode G G's Dolly in her first 10 starts, will travel to Grand Prairie for the mount. G G's Dolly is named for owner William Niedfelt's son, Grant Gerald, and the family dog, Dolly. Eight-year-old Grant was born May 19, the same date of G G's Dolly's first win, in 2005.

Kentucky Breeders' Cup Winner Datrick in Friday's TTA Trials

The nation's only 2-year-old graded stakes winner, Datrick, will be an overwhelming favorite to win Friday's eighth race, one of three trials for the estimated $100,000 TTA Sales Futurity on June 10. The undefeated son of Favorite Trick won the Grade III Kentucky Breeders' Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs earlier this month by 1 1/4 lengths.

Datrick broke his maiden at Keeneland in April by 7 1/2 lengths. He was one of four juveniles trained by Steve Asmussen that were part of the field in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup.

Texas-bred Datrick is owned by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. In 2004, Asmussen and Heiligbrodt won the colts and geldings division of the TTA Sales Futurity with Expect Will.

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); 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): 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); More Than Regal (TBA, Steve Asmussen); 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 (Patrick Valenzuela, Eoin Harty); Brownie Points (Luis Quinonez, Donnie K. Von Hemel); Downthedustyroad (Jon Court, 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 (Perry Compton, 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).

Free Umbrellas Monday

A free Lone Star Park umbrella will be awarded to every fan with paid admission on Memorial Day this Monday while supplies last. With Monday's early forecast calling for sunny skies and little chance of precipitation, keep in mind the stylish, dark green umbrella doubles as a parasol.

DOWN THE STRETCH: Cliff Berry holds a one-win edge over Quincy Hamilton, 41 to 40, in the jockey standings entering Thursday's action. Hamilton won seven races last week to Berry's six, but the hottest rider of the week was local mainstay Don Pettinger, who connected with four of his seven starters (57%)...Steve Asmussen is the leading trainer entering Thursday with 27 wins, one more than Cody Autrey in second with 26. The hottest trainers last week were Donnie K. Von Hemel, who won with five of 14 starters (36%), and Randy Mayfield, who was three-for-three...Sandy and Jerry Heflin held sway over the owner standings with six wins on the season. Tom Durant, Carl Moore, Wimp Free Racing, Pin Oak Stable and Charles Fletcher all have five wins...Friday's Game Two of the NBA's Western Conference Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns will be shown on televisions throughout the facility and between races on the Sony JumboTron...Friday's "Party at the Park" in the Courtyard of Champions features $1.75 Bud Light cans and live music by Scott McCurry from 7-11 p.m...The Factory will rock the Courtyard of Champions stage on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. as the featured live act for Budweiser "True Music" Saturday...Yellow wristbands to show support for permanently disabled jockeys will be on sale Saturday at Lone Star Park near the East Gate entrance. Wristbands are $5 and support the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund...Advance wagering on Monday's Lone Star Million card will be available all day Sunday...Sundays are Senior Citizens' Days with free general admission to fans 62 and older with valid photo identification...Drive-thru wagering will be open for business Monday from 8 a.m. to noon...The Family Fun Park will be open Monday with bounce houses and a petting zoo...Monday's pre-race ceremonies honoring America will feature a flyover by four World War II-era T-6 fighter planes at 1 p.m. Nikki Hale will perform the national anthem and "God Bless America" accompanied by a Dyess Air Force Base Color Guard presentation...There will be live music Monday by Steve Tenpenny on the Courtyard of Champions stage from noon to 4 p.m...Featured simulcast races on Memorial Day include the Grade I Metropolitan Handicap (a.k.a. the Met Mile) at Belmont Park, the Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park and the Grade I Gamely Breeders' Cup Stakes at Hollywood...Dr Pepper Can Months continue through June. Redeem your Dr Pepper can each live race day to receive $1 general admission, a free large Dr Pepper and the chance to win a night at the races in a luxury suite...For news updates, opinions, staff selections and random observations, remember to check out the new Lone Star Park's Press Box Blog at

By Jim Mulvihill
Additional reporting by Darren Rogers

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