Lone Star Park's Fall Meeting of Champions Begins 32-Night Run This Friday, October 5

Live horse racing returns to the Dallas-Fort Worth area Friday night (Oct. 5) for a nine-week run as Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie stages its 10th annual Fall Meeting of Champions for American Quarter Horses over the next nine weeks.

The 32-night meeting will continue Wednesday through Saturday nights at 6:35 p.m. CT through Saturday, Dec. 1. The lone exceptions will be no racing on Nov. 21-22 due to the Thanksgiving holiday and a special 5 p.m. first race on Oct. 27 to complement a simulcast of the Breeders' Cup World Championships from Monmouth Park.

The 15th running of the Grade 1 Texas Classic Futurity on closing night tops a 27-race stakes schedule, cumulatively worth $2,618,000. With an estimated $1 million up for grabs, the 400-yard sprint is annually the richest horse race in Texas. Trials to determine the 10 finalists will be held Saturday, Nov. 17.

Other highlights include the Grade 1, $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap (Saturday, Oct. 6); Grade 1, $450,000-estimated Dash For Cash Futurity (Saturday, Oct. 27); Grade 1, $175,000-estimated Dash For Cash Derby (Saturday, Oct. 27); $65,000 Lone Star Park Paint & Appaloosa Futurity (Saturday, Nov. 24); and Grade 1, $400,000-estimated Texas Classic Derby (Saturday, Dec. 1).


A field of 10 Texas-bred Quarter Horses, headed by multiple graded stakes winner Hesa Lil Bit High, was entered for Friday night's $30,000 Classic Chevrolet Heartbeat of America Handicap at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The 350-yard sprint kicks off a 27-race stakes schedule and highlights the 11-race opening night program for Lone Star Park's 32-date Fall Meeting of Champions.

Hesa Lil Bit High landed post No. 6 and was made the 5-2 morning line favorite by oddsmaker Rick Lee. The 7-year-old gelding, owned by Claudio Aguilar and conditioned by Retama Park's leading trainer Robert Touchet, has banked $114,315 from his six wins, 13 seconds and four thirds in 36 starts. His 2007 campaign began in May at Retama Park with a half-length victory in the $20,000 Live Oak Handicap, and was followed by two seconds and a third at Sam Houston.

He'll renew a recent rivalry with Sheri Rosinski's 9-year-old homebred gelding Ronas Wind Dancer, the 3-1 second choice who'll start from post 5. The two finished in a dead heat for second in the $50,500 Barmaster Sprint Stakes on July 27 at Sam Houston. One month earlier, Hesa Lil Bit High finished second in the $24,750 Stephen F. Austin Stakes while Ronas Wind Dancer was third.

The race also attracted Desirable Properties Inc.'s Ida Snow Man, who'll drop back into state-bred company after finishing third in the Grade 2 Sam Houston Classic at odds of 17-1. The two horses that beat the 4-year-old gelding, Toastin Dash and This Candys Red Hot, are likely to start in Saturday's Grade 1 Refrigerator Handicap.

Here's the complete field from the rail out (with jockeys, trainer, assigned weight and morning line odds): La Jollaroid (G.R. Carter Jr., "Sleepy" Gilbreath, 124, 6-1); Another Fast Colt (Adalberto Candadosa, John Foutch, 119, 30-1); Ida Snow Man (Jeff Jerman, Michael Zingelmann, 124, 9-2); First Smart Winner (Santos Carrizales, Jose Ramos, 121, 20-1); Ronas Wind Dancer (Russel Hadley, Jesse Yoakum, 124, 3-1); Hesa Lil Bit High (Arturo Puga, Robert Touchet, 124, 5-2); Im Bionic (Fidencio Hernandez, Alfredo Triana, 123, 10-1); Sign Me Double Fast (Dewey Smith, Gilbreath, 120, 20-1); Imazoomertoo (Rodrigo Vallejo, Judd Kearl, 122, 10-1); and Jodys Funny Face (Randy Edison, Ryan Basham, 123, 10-1).

The Classic Chevrolet Heartbeat of America Handicap will run as Race 10 at approximately 10:47 p.m. CT. The first live race of the season is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. CT. Lone Star Park's Grandstand gates will open one hour earlier at 5:30 p.m. CT.


Opening night of Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie's Fall Meeting of Champions will double as Souvenir Night. With every $3 paid general admission on Friday night (Oct. 5), customers will receive their choice of a free Lone Star Park premium item that commemorates Lone Star Park's 10th anniversary: a Lone Star Park sports bag, a Lone Star Park 12-pack cooler, a Lone Star Derby glassware set or Stars of Texas tumbler.

Also, there'll be a "Party at the Park" in the Courtyard of Champions from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. with drink specials and live Latin music by Los Retenes Del Norte. Dallas-Fort Worth radio station La Que Buena 107.9 FM also will be on hand for a special promotional appearance between 6-9 p.m.


"Diamond" Jim Brooks, winner of the last two riding titles at Lone Star Park, will be glad to be back in the saddle Friday for opening night of the 32-date Fall Meeting of Champions. The 56-year-old jockey hasn't ridden in a race since he injured his rotator cuff 124 days ago in a June 3 spill at Retama Park.

The injury occurred when 2-year-old Illegal Memories bobbled badly at the wire while finishing second in a June 3 trial for the Grade 1 Retama Park Futurity. "At the wire, he got stiff-legged and just propped and dug his two front feet into the ground," Brooks said. "He tossed me out of the stirrups and into the air with no reins in my hands; I came down hard."

Eleven screws were inserted into his right shoulder during a June 20 surgical procedure, and now he's ready to return to race riding four months later. "I feel great and the doctor said everything just fell right back into place and healed beautifully," Brooks said.

He has six scheduled mounts on Friday's opening night card at Lone Star Park, and no longer rides first-call for top trainer Judd Kearl. "We went our separate ways during the Manor Downs meeting," Brooks explained. "I'll be riding for a bunch of different trainers this season, and hopefully we'll pick up where we left off last year."

Brooks led the Lone Star Park standings in 2006 with 32 wins from 232 mounts, a 13.8% win clip. In 2005, he was the leading rider with track record 47 victories.

Most of last year's Top 10 jockeys are back with opening night mounts this year: Fidencio Hernandez (26 wins at the 2006 Fall Meeting of Champions), Jeff Jerman (19), two-time local riding champ Roy Baldillez (18), Arturo Puga (17), 1998 co-leading rider Juan Vazquez (17), 2005 Lone Star Park earnings leader Rodrigo Vallejo (16) and Jose Alvarez (13).

Puga enters the Lone Star Park on a hot streak. He topped Russel Hadley, 42-37, at the Sam Houston meeting (June 29-Sept. 8) for his second riding title this year. He also was the leading rider at Retama Park (May 4-June 17) with 31 winners.

G.R. Carter Jr., the six-time AQHA Champion Jockey who earned a Lone Star Park record $883,898 at last year's Fall Meeting of Champions, is once again expected to be prominent in stakes events this year. The runaway leading jockey at this spring's Remington Park meeting (March 3-June 3) is named aboard three horses Friday, including La Jollaroid for trainer "Sleepy" Gilbreath in the Restricted Grade 3, $30,000 Classic Chevrolet Heartbeat of America Handicap.


Lone Star Park's featured race on opening weekend is Saturday night's Grade 1, $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap. The winner of the 440-yard classic will receive a coveted invitation to compete in the Grade 1, $1 million Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Dec. 15.

Quarter Horse racing secretary Mike Shamburg said the following horses are under serious consideration for the race: defending champ and reigning Lone Star Park "Horse of the Meeting" Country Chicks Man (trained by Sparky Mullins, assigned 126 pounds); Grade 1 Oklahoma Challenge Championship winner SM Country Cowboy (Mullins, 125); Toastin Dash (Heath Taylor, 125), winner of six in a row including the Grade 2 Sam Houston Classic; six-time graded stakes-winning mare Bullions N Garters (Jim Gubas, 124); Grade 1 Texas Challenge Championship winner Ride With the King (Alex Villarreal, 124); five-time graded stakes winner WRS Special Shoe (Charley Hunt, 124); Fast Talkin Val (Taylor, 123), winner of the Grade 1 Texas Challenge Championship in 2005; six-time graded stakes winner Gray Invasion (Robert Touchet, 123), multiple stakes-winning mare Sizzling (Russell Harris, 123); and This Candys Red Hot ("Sleepy" Gilbreath, 123), winner of the Grade 1 Speedhorse Gold and Silver Cup Futurity two years ago.

Entries will be taken Wednesday morning.

101 HORSES ENTERED FOR OPENER - A total of 101 horses were entered for Friday night's opening night 11-race card, an average of 9.18 horses per race.

NUMBER OF RACES - Lone Star Park plans to card nine live races on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 11 races on Fridays and Saturdays. The Wednesday and Thursday programs should conclude around 10:11 p.m. CT. Friday and Saturday action is expected to wrap up at 11:05 p.m. CT.

"LONE STAR TODAY" EN ESPANOL - Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie will publish a condensed version of its official program "Lone Star Today" in Spanish during the Fall Meeting of Champions. The program will be sold on-track for $1.50.

BRISK SUMMER SIMULCAST BUSINESS - Lone Star Park officials hope positive momentum from this summer's brisk on-track simulcast business continues into the fall. Between May and September, on-track betting on simulcast races across the country was up 13.2% over the same period last year - an $8.7 million increase. May ($15.2 million), June ($13.8 million), July ($16.6 million) and September ($11.9 million) simulcast wagering handle was its largest since 2004, and the August total ($13.4 million) was its greatest since '03. Through Sunday, year-to-date total on-track wagering increased 3.0% from $150.4 million in 2006 to $155.0 million this year. "We're extremely appreciative of our customers' business," Lone Star Park President and General Manager Drew Shubeck said. "The positive trend is a direct result of growth in our "Star Player Rewards" program, increased attention to customer service, additional marketing dollars and facility improvements. We hope to carry the momentum through the fall and into 2008."

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