Thu, 17 April, 1997
Despite the cloudy start, today burned clear. Opening day at Lone Star Park
was everything that I had hoped for.
The parking gates opened at noon, but the main gates didn't open until 1.
The roads at that time were easily passable, and parking was easy. The
lines to get in the main gates and the simulcasting pavillion were lengthy,
but not impossible. Word has it, one man got to the parking lot at 5 a.m.
becasue he wanted to be the FIRST through the gates.
Having press passes, of course, we got in when we arrived. Last minute
clean-up was going on while we looked around and enjoyed LS's last peaceful
moments. As we did, the countdown began--literally. The fans outside
literally counted down the last seconds before the gates opened, at which
time a cheer arose and people ran for the ticket booth. Lone Star was open
After a short visit to the (very nice and very busy) media room, we went to
the barns--the heart of the horsemen. We wandered in just the right
direction. We found SoCal based Randy Bradshaw's contingent, which was
being overseen by Ed Burdick. We had a very nice conversation about the
state of racing in Texas. Their feeling is that with all the problems
encountered by horsemen in Texas in the past, things had better be done
right by Lone Star or the big horsemen will give up on this state. They did
say, however, that so far, everything that can reasonably be done to
accomodate them is being done with great speed (simple things, perhaps, such
as a grassy area in front of the barn to walk horses and other aesthetic
things). When asked about the things that, so far, they might change if
they could, two answers were promptly received: more wash stalls and better
quarters for the grooms and horsemen. Fair enough--let's see what LSP can
do to help them.
After that, we meandered in an extremely fortuitous direction: we managed to
find the barn where Skip Away and Frisk Me Now were just being unloaded from
their ride from the airport. The two were led around the barn area while
the last minute touches to their stalls were being applied. Dale Coleman,
who is the general stable manager, had the last of the straw in SA's stall
spread, as well as the last of the shavings in FMN's stall. The horses
seemed to ship very well, and settled nicely, despite all the fussing of the
Very shortly thereafter, Sonny and Carolyn Hine showed up to check on the
horses. I had a chance to speak with both, and they were just as nice as
can be. We spoke of Skip Away having been a birthday present, and Carolyn
said that since her birthday falls right at Ocala 2yo sale time, a horse is
what she wants most as a present. They have no children, she has enough
jewelry--what really means most to her is having the horses. She said that
it is not necessarily the money that is the biggest thrill, it is the
mementos and the fond memories that go with them. Asked how long Skip Away
would be racing--she answered, "Til he had a long gray beard, if it were up
to me." I hope the Hines will have many great sucesses with their
trainees--both at LSP and elsewhere.
We missed opening ceremonies, but the experience we enjoyed was worth it.
We did, however, get back just in time for the first race--the Premier
Stakes for accredited Texas-breds. We watched as the KC Wojciechowski
trained I Are Sharp won the very first race run. We watched a few more
races, and decided to head back home to try to get these pictures developed
before closing. With any luck, we'll have some nice pictures for TRH/TRN
Comments taken in while we were there:
Numerous people commented on how kind the track is. It is springy and
forgiving on the horses, which should help keep horses sound.
The management has bent over backwards to keep the horsemen happy.
By one of the scurity guards: he insisted that we stop by the 3rd floor
kitchen and check it out--he thinks the food and preparation rivals that of
the Anatole Hotel (a posh culinary institution)--anything you want food-wise
can be had.
We had a very good time, and are looking forward to the rest of the
festivities this weekend. See y'all there!