Next Bandit, Bluegrass Sara Win In Front Of 16,574

(June 7, 2003)- Next Bandit remained undefeated with a swift gate-to-wire win in the colts and geldings division of the $142,930 Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity on Saturday at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. In front of 16,574 fans, the 2-year-old son of Time Bandit rolled to a 2 ½-length victory over Full Moons Arisin in :57.28 for five furlongs – a stakes record for the 14th running of the race.

Later in the day, Bluegrass Sara was a convincing winner of the $138,200 fillies division, giving trainer Steve Asmussen his record fourth victory in the race.

Next Bandit, perfect in two starts, flashed his brilliant early speed from the outset, clocking the first quarter mile in :21.44 and the half in :44.17. Leading jockey Eddie Martin Jr. kicked the Florida-bred clear on the turn for home and held well under steady handling.

“I let him relax,” said Martin, Lone Star Park’s leading rider. “He was off the bridle all the way down the backside. I thought he’d get pressed by quiet a few horses in the race. Fortunately, nobody could keep up with him.”

The $85,758 winner’s share of the purse boosted his earnings to $96,558 for owner Coast to Coast Racing (Bobby Beck and partners) and trainer Bret Calhoun.

Next Bandit, sent postward as the 7-2 second choice in the field of 10 two-year-olds which passed through Texas sales rings, paid $9.40 to win. Full Moons Arisin finished well to get second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Joyjet, who tried to keep up with the winner early.

“I concerned about them pressing him early when we drew the two-hole,” Calhoun said. “But actually, nobody could. He went fast and set very honest fractions, got relaxed and accelerated home.”

Behind the top three were Trickey Jones, Koran, Iron Expectations, The Docmeister, City Trick, Wild Buckaroo and Expectacat.

The entry of Iron Expectation and Trickey Jones was an odds-on 2-5 favorite.

The start of the race was delayed 19 minutes when Full Moons Arisin got stirred up in the starting gate and pinned the right foot of jockey Kirk LeBlanc. A replacement rider had to be found as LeBlanc was transported to Methodist Hospital in Dallas for x-rays. Tim Doocy picked up the mount.

“I just talked to him and kept quiet [during the delay],” Martin said. “He was very calm and collected and kept it all in stride. He was very professional.”

In the fillies division, Bluegrass Sara, ridden by Lonnie Meche and trained Asmussen, defeated Hay Lauren by 2 ½ lengths. Calling Scarlett was third and favorite Birdie Barrage was fourth after clipping heals with a rival near the quarter pole.

The victory was Asmussen’s fourth in the last five years in the 11-year-old race. His other victories came with Maddie’s Promise (1999), Louetta (2000) and Smoke Buster (2001).

Like Next Bandit, the Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt-owned filly, is undefeated in two starts. She clocked the five-furlong distance in :57.80 and earned $82,920 for the victory.

“She was aggressive leaving the gate,” Meche said. “This was the first time I got to sit on her. I heard she worked fast last week and came into today’s race on her toes. I just wanted to get this filly into her stride and hoped that I’d hit the head of the lane with a lot of horse. I knew it really take someone that was running to catch her. She really turned it on when I called on her.”

“We were very fortunate that this filly has a great mind about her,” Asmussen said. “She was able to comeback [from the trial two weeks earlier] and show her ability. However fast they are, that’s out of our hands at this point. We just worry about their physical condition and how they come into it mentally. She worked very sharply since the trials and we felt very good coming in. Lonnie came in [from Kentucky] to substitute for Corey [Lanerie], who was out of town today, and did a great job.”

Lanerie, Asmussen’s first-call rider at Lone Star Park, was in New York at Belmont Park to ride the Heiligbrodt’s Posse, another Asmussen trainee, in the Grade II, $200,000 Riva Ridge on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Lanerie gave Posse a masterful ride to defeat favorite Midas Eyes.

The on-track crowd of 16,574 was on-hand for live racing and a simulcast of the 135th Belmont Stakes, which saw Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner finish third in his attempt to sweep horse racing’s Visa Triple Crown.

A record number of customers utilized Lone Star Park’s Drive Thru Wagering service at Gate 2 off Belt Line Road as 1,457 cars passed through the four betting lanes Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A Belmont Stakes Day record $123,845 was wagered there. Those patrons likely returned home to watch Belmont Park’s racing action on NBC Sports and ESPN.

Lone Star Park handled $4,700,222 on its 11 live races, including $1,068,168 on-track and another $3,632,054 off-track. As of 7:30 p.m., the on-track crowd had wagered $1.5 million on simulcast races across the country, including $645,604 on the Belmont Stakes.

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