|Lone Star Park Finishes Season Up in Attendance & Handle
Despite a sluggish economy and record rainfall in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie concluded its sixth Thoroughbred season Sunday (July 14) with significant across the board gains in every average daily attendance and handle category.
Attendance for the 70-date meeting rose 1.5% to 9,025 patrons daily, on-track handle was up 6.8% to $1.29 million and off-track wagering grew 2.8% to a record $2,048,498. Betting on Lone Star Park's racing product (on- and off-track handle) increased 2.7% to $2.6 million daily.
In addition, wagering on simulcast action across the country by on-track patrons jumped a hefty 11.2% to a record daily average of $659,148.
"This was a very significant season for us to be up across the board in all daily average attendance and handle figures," said Corey Johnsen, Lone Star Park's President and General Manager. "It was truly a team effort. Our employees provided excellent customer service and North Texas sports and horse racing fans responded to a first class product.
"This season, our business levels have shown us that North Texas horse racing fans are becoming better educated about the sport. That is shown particularly in record average simulcast-in business on-track. What makes it so encouraging is that they've made horseracing part of their regular entertainment choice. That really speaks well for the future.
"The success we've enjoyed in our short history has led to the development of a number of enthusiastic horse owners in the area, and they've responded by improving the quality of our racing product each season."
Lone Star Park, which conducted its annual 15-week Thoroughbred meeting from April 4 to July 14, continued to be among the nation's top racetracks in on-track attendance. A total of 631,726 passed through the turnstiles to witness numerous highlights.
The Lone Stars & Stripes Symphony in the Sky Celebration on July 3 again proved to be a hit as a meet-high 28,123 attended the holiday card and post-race fireworks show. Other big draws were a Willie Nelson concert on April 5 (23,091); Kentucky Derby Day (18,242); Lone Star Million Day (18,081); Belmont Stakes Day (16,338), a Cross Canadian Ragweed-Jason Boland & The Stragglers-Django Walker concert on July 13 (14,928); Preakness Stakes Day (14,691); NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship Night (14,382) and Opening Night (14,123).
Overall, on-track wagers on live racing totaled $44,267,099 this season, and another $46,140,368 was bet on-track on simulcast racing. Off-track bets totaled $143,394,889. The all sources total (all on- and off-track wagers) was $233,802,356 or $3.3 million daily, a 4.3% gain from 2001.
On the racetrack, trainer Steve Asmussen, the national win leader, clinched his fourth straight Lone Star Park training title in style, winning a track record seven races on closing day. The 36-year-old Arlington, Texas resident concluded the season with 95 wins, which eclipsed his 2001 record of 90 victories during the 2001 meeting. Cole Norman finished second with 83 wins (nine more than his 74 wins last year).
Corey Lanerie, who regularly teamed with Asmussen this season, won his third local riding title with 92 wins, 30 more than runner-up Anthony Lovato.
Ken Murphy of Dallas defeated Turf Express Inc. and Coast to Coast Racing in a heated battle for the coveted leading owner title. Murphy, the leading owner last season, won 24 races and $542,118 this year, both Lone Star Park single season records. Turf Express Inc., a partnership headed by Mark Cornett of Gainesville, Texas, fell one victory short, and Bobby Beck's syndicate Coast to Coast Racing Fund finished third with 21 wins.
Congaree, the Grade I-winning millionaire, was voted Horse of the Meeting and Champion Older Male after winning the Grade III, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on May 27. Other champions honored by local media and selected Lone Star Park officials were Queen of Wilshire (Champion Older Female), Suances (Champion Turf Horse), Wiseman's Ferry (Champion 3-Year-Old Male), Spring Meadow (Champion 3-Year-Old Female), Beau's Town (Champion Sprinter), Action Tonight (Champion 2-Year-Old Male), Confiding Winner (Champion 2-Year-Old Female), Desert Darby (Champion Texas-bred Male), Coastalota (Champion Texas-bred Female) and Kris's Sleigh (Champion Claiming Horse).
Asmussen Wins Track Record Seven Races on Closing Day
Steve Asmussen, the nation's top trainer in wins and third in earnings, padded his lofty numbers Sunday at Lone Star Park by winning a track record seven races on the North Texas racetrack's closing day program. Asmussen and rival Cole Norman previously won four races on multiple occasions, which was the previous mark.
The 36-year-old resident of Arlington, Texas resident saddled 17 horses on the extended 14-race card, but he had already eclipsed the old record with his fifth winner in the ninth race - the $75,000 Bob Johnson Memorial Stakes with Mountain General. In fact, Asmussen saddled the top three finishers in the one-mile stakes race as Compendium and Big Numbers finished second and third, respectively.
Asmussen also won the second stakes event of the day with Confiding Winner in the $84,450 Silver Spur Breeders' Cup.
His other winners were Corinthian in the second race ($3.60), Sockitaway in the fifth ($3), Sunshine Classic in the sixth ($4), Wild Market in the seventh race ($13) and Term Sheet in the 11th.
Asmussen had two chances to equal J.C. Williams' North American record of eight wins on a single day, established in 1979 at Waterford Park, but fell short when Terrizing Jones was second in the 13th race and favored Ms Classic Jones was fifth in the nightcap.
Asmussen's monumental day at Lone Star Park clinched his fourth straight training title at Lone Star Park with a record 95 victories this season. Cole Norman was second with 83 wins.