Mon, 21 April, 1997
Well, the wonderful first weekend at Lone Star has ended. Attendance and
handle figures were great. Attendance opening day officially stands at
21,754, with total handle (both on and off track) at $3,279,685. As I
said--LS was built to cater to these numbers, because opening day didn't
feel overly crowded. Numbers dropped off some Friday and Saturday, at
attendance figures of 13,685 and 11,224 respectively. Total handle those
days was 2,492,680 and 3,517,192, which again, is pretty good. Sunday, day
of the Lone Star Derby and the Texas Mile, were very good. Attendance
peaked at 24,717, with $5,002,812 wagered by 8 pm.
Lone Star Park was not the only one to make out well Sunday, though.
Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey David Flores also did pretty well for
themselves. They swept the two big races, and swept them with remarkable
ease. And to think that Baffert almost canceled that chartered plane to
The Texas Mile was the first big race. Entered were favorites SKip Away,
Isitingood, and Semoran. Others in the field of 8 were Western Trader and
Native Regent, both owned by John Franks, as well as Spiritbound, Illesam,
and Tx-bred Itron. The break was good, but fav Skip Away got hung 5 wide
around the first turn. Isitingood got the lead, and had no rivals this day.
Surprisingly enough, Skip Away, while giving up 7 pounds to the eventual
winner, was beaten as well by equal weight 27-1 shot Spiritbound.
Spiritbound is the KY-bred son of Spellbound and had the very capable
services of Ronald Ardoin, who had done well at this meet. Bob Baffert gets
to stand in the winners circle with Isitingood.
The Lone Star Derby was also a great race. This race boasted of such horses
as Frisk Me Now, Holzmeister, Anet, and Wild Wonder. The other contenders
in this 9 horse filed were Motivo, Alpine Express, Crimson Classic,
Thatsusintheolbean, and Hamilton Creek. This is a very nice group of three
year olds. I had been very impressed with FMN in the barn area. In the
paddock, my eye was caught by another in this field--Anet. Both are very
classy horses. I was, quite frankly, disappointed with Holzmeister's
appearance, after all the hype. A stoutly built colt, I would have doubted
his ability to get this distance. Be that as it may, this nice group went
to the post and readied. The break came, in my opinion, a little too
quickly. It did not seem that all horses were prepared fo rthe start. In
fact, Crimson Classic stumbled and dislodged his rider, Lonnie Meche, who
If I may, at this point, I would like to point out how good a job the
outrider did of catching CC. Thanks to the outrider and his doggone fast
QH, any collisions by this riderless horse were avoided.
Anet and Wild Wonder took the lead, and set some rapid fractions, with the
first 6f in 1:09 1-5. The pace told on Wild Wonder, and he dropped back as
Frisk Me Now and Holzmeister attempted a vain rally. Frisk Me Now seemed to
get hung behind Wild Wonder, as he was lapped on by Holzmeister. When he
finally got running room, he seemed not to be able to rally enough to
threaten Anet, but it was enough to stave off Holzmeister. Anet ran the
mile 1/16 in 1:40 4-5, which is a time future runners here at Lone Star will
have trouble matching.
This was a weekend to remember for all time. Lots of firsts, here. The
first race run for money, the first time those gates popped open, the first
use of the winners circle.. There will be more firsts, but these will be the
ones that will stay most prominent in my mind.
Also memories that will stay prominent in my mind are those of how nice
everyone was. Everyone, from the employees to the biggest owner, were
gracious. On opening day, a boy in a wheelchair was taking the elevator,
escorted by his mother, up to the next level to see if he could find a place
to better see the horses. A well-dressed man on the elevator, hearing that
the boy wanted to see the horses said, "Why, come with me. I'll take you to
where you can see the horses." He took them to the 5th floor, where his
family had a skybox. I will always play back in my head, the picture of the
elevator closing, while the man told them that his mother owned the horse
that won the first race. The look on the boy's face was that of pure joy.
I think Lone Star is here for the long run. See you at the races!