Lone Star Park Average Daily Attendance Increases by More Than Five Percent in 2008

Despite the slumping national economy, record gas prices and two less days of live racing than in 2007, Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie concluded their 65-day, 2008 Spring Thoroughbred meet on Sunday, July 27, with increases in both average daily and overall attendance.

Average daily attendance rose just over 5 percent to 7,500 in 2008 compared with 7,100 last year. Despite having two fewer days of racing in 2008, 65 compared to 67 in a year ago, Lone Star Park's overall attendance increased by nearly 10,000, from 475,097 in 2007 to 484,879 this year. The 5.2 percent average daily attendance increase is the largest annual increase in the history of Lone Star Park. The previous high was 1.5 percent in 2002 from 2001.

"We are extremely pleased with the growth in attendance during our 2008 meet and would like to thank all of our loyal customers who came out to Lone Star Park," said Lone Star Park President and General Manager Drew Shubeck. "In addition to the live racing, our big event days and a very successful concert series, as well as Big Brown's exciting run at the Triple Crown, provided our fans with great entertainment throughout the meet. The growth in attendance during these difficult economic times demonstrates that Lone Star Park remains one of the best and most affordable entertainment values in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area."

Average daily wagering on Lone Star Park's live racing, both on and off track, slipped 2.3 percent to $1.63 million from $1.67 million in 2007. In addition, average daily on-track wagering, which includes betting by on-track customers on both Lone Star Park's live races and simulcast races imported by the track, was $1.03 million, a 6.1-percent decrease from $1.09 million last year.

In 2008, the All-Sources average daily handle slipped to $2.25 million compared to last year's $2.34 million, a 3.7-percent decline.

"While more people attended the races at Lone Star Park this year, the economy clearly had an negative impact on how much they had to spend when they were here," added Shubeck. "In addition, the loss of wagering from the Account Deposit Wagering companies also contributed to our lower handle figures."

On the track, there were a total of 5,667 runners in 632 races during the 65-day, 2008 Lone Star Park meet for an average field size of 9.0 per race, an increase of 0.4 from last year's average of 8.6 when 5,517 starters ran in 641 races. In addition, there were only 313 scratches (4.8 per day) this year compared to 527 (7.8 per day) in 2007.

The biggest factor in those increases was the weather, with far less rain in 2008 than a year ago. This season there were only nine races over five different days that were moved off of the turf to the main track due to wet conditions. Last year, 60 races over 21 different dates had to moved.

All-time Lone Star Park leading jockey Cliff Berry, who won titles in 2005 and 2006, topped all riders with 91 victories to increase his career total to 621 while making it three jockey championships in the last four years. His streak was interrupted by Ramsey Zimmerman last year. Luis Quinonez was 20 victories behind with 71 and veteran reinsman Eddie Martin Jr., the 2004 Spring Meet leader, was third with 56 wins.

Like in 2007, the nation's leading trainer Steve Asmussen led the trainer standings with 78 wins, while Grand Prairie native Bret Calhoun finished second behind him with 68. It marks Asmussen's 10th trainer title in the last 11 years and increases his all-time Lone Star Park career wins to 802. John Locke was third with 46 winners.

The owner's race came down to the final week of the meet with five in contention. Owner Tom Durant, who previously won the award in 2005 and tied for leading owner during the 2004 Fall meet, clinched the 2008 title by two victories with 17 wins during the meet. Jan Haynes finished second with 15 trips to the Winner's Circle, while three others - Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Black Hawk Stable and Carl R. Moore Management LLC - each tied for third with 14 victories.

Monterey Jazz, winner of the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile on Lone Star Million Preview Day, April 26, 2008, was voted as the Horse of the Meet.

Other racing highlights of the meet included El Gato Malo's exciting stretch run to win by half a length over second-place finisher Leonides in Saturday's Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Derby in front of 9,249 at Lone Star Park on Saturday, May 10.

On Lone Star Million Day, Monday, May 26, Stronach Stable's Giant Gizmo, trained by five-time Eclipse Award winner Robert Frankel and ridden by 2007 Eclipse-winning jockey Garrett Gomez, overcame a difficult trip to win the 12th running of the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap by two lengths. Also that day, Robert Tjosvold's Church Service earned his first graded stakes victory in capturing the Grade 3, $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup and Pin Oak Stable's Brownie Points gave trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel his second career victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 Ouija Board Distaff Handicap.

Stars of Texas Day on Saturday, July 12 featured the inductions of three new members into the Lone Star Park Hall of Fame - Owners Clarence and Dorothy Scharbauer, and L. William (Bill) and Corinne Heiligbrodt, and Dixie Dot Com, who in 2001, became the only horse in history to sweep the Grade 3 Texas Mile and Lone Star Handicap in his only two appearances at Lone Star Park.

Off the track, season highlights included crowds of 15,985 and 26,774 for racing and holiday fireworks on July 3 and 4, respectively. A highly-successful concert series attracted at total of 53,196 fans for an average of 13,300 fans for the four shows including - 15,132 on April 11 for Gary Allan, 12,125 on April 12 for Miranda Lambert, 13,040 on June 13 for Randy Rogers and 12,899 for Stoney LaRue on July 11.

Big Brown's run at a Triple Crown was another highlight of the season as 45,909 fans attended Lone Star Park to watch and wager on his failed attempt to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in history. The biggest of the three crowds was 18,689 for the Kentucky Derby on May 3, followed by 14,914 on Belmont Stakes Day on June 6, and a May 17 Preakness Day gathering of 12,306,

Live racing at Lone Star Park will resume on Friday, September 26, 2008 with opening night of the 31-day Fall Meeting of Champions for American Quarter Horses. During that meet, there will be special simulcasts of the Breeders' Cup World Championships from Santa Anita Park on Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25.

Back to News