Ten Texas-breds Set For Opening Night Premiere Stakes at LSP

(April 1, 2003)- Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day and his mount, Agrivating General, drew post position seven in a field of 10 Texas-breds for Thursday’s $50,000 Premiere Stakes, the first race of the 2003 Thoroughbred season at Lone Star Park. The presence of Day, who will sign autographs prior to the races, is one of several special happenings that make up the Opening Night Extravaganza.

Other events include the distribution of 10,000 American flags; the unfurling of a massive “Stars and Stripes” along the track’s homestretch; an opening ceremony with jockey introductions; The Dallas Morning News handicapping seminar with Gary West before the races; extensive prize giveaways featuring an opportunity to win $50,000; and, of course, ten live races contested by many of the best horses in the Southwest.

Gates open at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, at which time horse racing’s all-time earnings leader, Day, will meet fans and sign autographs. The handicapping seminar starts at 5 p.m., opening ceremonies commence at 5:30 p.m. and post time for the Premiere Stakes is 6:35 p.m.

The Premiere has attracted the top older Texas-breds in training. The competitive race includes seven stakes winners, led by 2-1 morning line favorite Term Sheet, winner of the $35,000 Jersey Village Stakes at Sam Houston in February for Lone Star Park’s all-time leading trainer Steve Asmussen. Second in that race was Agrivating General, trained by Danny Pish, installed as the 5-2 second choice.

Term Sheet and Agrivating General have finished one-two in two consecutive stakes races, but the tables could easily be turned this time. In addition to picking up one of the smartest and craftiest riders to ever sit on a horse, Agrivating General drew a better post position than his rival Term Sheet, who will break from post nine.

Also likely to receive their share of support from bettors are two top Texas-breds who have yet to appear in any state-bred races this year.

Rare Cure, who won the $100,000 Stars of Texas at Sam Houston in November, has finished off the board in his last three starts: the $275,000 Great State Challenge Classic, the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup and the Grade III Essex Handicap. The 2001 Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Male is trained by Joe Petalino.

Fitzroyal, unraced since a three-length score in the $43,000 Texas Stallion Stakes in December, represents a serious threat from the always-dangerous barn of Cole Norman. While Norman closes out his record-breaking season at Oaklawn Park, his Lone Star Park stable is being supervised by assistant Tim Ice, who says Fitzroyal is ready to run his best race despite being off since December.

“He was just resting,” Ice said. “He didn’t have any problems, he just took some time off and was getting ready so we’d have a fresh horse for Lone Star.”

The 4-year-old gelding has a history of not running his best off a layoff, but Ice insists that won’t be the case this time.

“He’s ready this time,” the assistant said. “He’ll run his race.”

Here’s the field for the Premiere Stakes, for Texas-breds at one mile, from the rail out (with jockeys and morning line odds): Attacksum (Terry Stanton, 20-1); Fitzroyal (Gerard Melancon, 6-1); Faxamillion (Jeremy Beasley, 6-1); Eye Witness (Rita Helton, 30-1); Won C C (John Jacinto, 12-1); Desert Air (Bobby Walker Jr., 10-1); Agrivating General (Day, 5-2); Crook (Don Simington, 10-1); Term Sheet (Corey Lanerie, 2-1); and Rare Cure (Eddie Martin Jr., 20-1).

Live racing and special events will be held all weekend. First post is 6:35 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Weekend action will start at 1:35 p.m.

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