Tom and Jesse Kagele sent Southern California allowance winner Pie N Burger to Texas-based trainer Cole Norman in hope of winning a stakes race. Little did the cousins know that they'd collect their first stakes win as owners in the richest race at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie's fifth annual Lone Star Million program.The day filled with seven stakes events cumulatively worth $1 million which attracted 17,362 fans.Pie N Burger, claimed for $100,000 last summer off trainer Bob Baffert, pressed the pace throughout the seventh running of the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III) and kicked clear to win the 1 1/16-mile race by 2 ¾ lengths. Favorite Bluesthestandard, the Texas Mile winner, and longshot Maysville Slew finished in a dead-heat for second.Behind the top three were Private Emblem, 8-5 second choice Pass Rush, Where's The Ring, Fifty Stars and Dusty Spike.Pie N Burger, who won for the eighth time in 29 starts, was clocked in 1:41.98 on a track labeled "fast." The 5-year-old gelding paid $15 to win as the 6-1 fourth wagering choice.
"I gave Cole a phone call a month and a half ago and it was the best call I ever made," Tom Kagele said. Breaking from post position No. 5 in the field of eight older horses, Pie N Burger contested the pace on the outside of Where's The Ring, a winner of three straight. As the duo passed the three-eighths pole, Pie N Burger inched away and responded to the urging of jockey Jamie Theriot. "You take a long cross on him and he relaxes," said Theriot, who tacked 114 pounds. "When I called on him at the three-sixteenths pole, he had a lot of run for me."Bluesthestandard, the 3-2 betting choice who sat off the leaders in fourth during the early stages of the race, came within a length of the leader at the head of the stretch but proved to be no match for Pie N Burger in the final furlong."It unfolded perfectly the way I wanted," said Bluesthestandard's jockey Martin Pedroza. "I rode him like the best horse. I think it's just a little bit too far for him. The extra sixteenth [of a mile] kind of got to him. He handled the track perfect and he made a good, winning move. He just got tired.""He didn't bring his 'A-game,' obviously," said the gelding's trainer, Ted H. West. "I'm not taking anything away from the winner, he ran a great race, but I really thought we were the best horse. We'll have to see."Maysville Slew, unhurried early on, rallied for the dead-heat for second at odds of 36-1."We're tickled to death," said Maysville Slew's owner and trainer C.R. Trout. "We knew he was right and he ran like he was right, about as good as he could."Both trainer Patrick Byrne and jockey Pat Day were mystified by Pass Rush's dull fifth-place finish."No excuses really," Byrne said. "He was running good down the backside. Pat said he kind of sucked back a bit. No excuses, just disappointment. The track wasn't an excuse; it was really in great shape."Formerly raced in Southern California with trainer Mike Machowsky, the Kageles, along with co-owner James A. Bailey, opted to send Pie N Burger to Lone Star Park and top local trainer Norman. Behind in training to make the April 26 Texas Mile, Norman entered the Kentucky-bred son of Twining in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race two weeks later. He signaled his fondness for Texas with a convincing three-length victory in 1:41 77. It was obvious that the Lone Star Park Handicap would be next."It's hard to fill races like ones for this horse in California," Tom Kagele said. "Cole did a good job." "The way this horse ran his last race, me and Jamie were so confident," Norman said. "He came out of the race super. Thank you, Mr. Kagele. I'm glad you called."Kagele hinted that Pie N Burger would remain with Norman and that the Bob Johnson Memorial Stakes on July 12 at Lone Star Park could be his next race."We'll see if Cole can go three-for-three with him."Norman had a sensational day at Lone Star Park, the best of his of career which began after the sudden death of his father Gene Norman in 1994. Norman saddled three stakes winners, which matched a feat accomplished by his chief training rival Steve Asmussen in 1999 on the inaugural Lone Star Million program. Eagle Lake posted a front-running upset in the Grade III, $200,000 WinStar Distaff and That Tat captured the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint."What a great day," said 34-year-old Norman, who tops the Lone Star Park trainer standings with 57 wins, 10 more than Asmussen, who has won four straight local training titles. "Is it real? Can I pinch myself? I just want to thank God and I know my pa is looking down and I just want to say, 'Thanks, Pa.' And I want to say thank you to Lone Star. We tried to keep all the money in town and we almost did it."(Chart, Equibase)