Magnum Blasts Away in Muddy Lone Star 'Cap

(from Lone Star report)
Heavily favored Magnum registered a convincing 1 ¼-length victory over Texcess in Monday's $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III) on a muddy track in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The 1 1/16-mile race for older horses capped Lone Star Park's eighth annual Lone Star Million – a six-race stakes bonanza on Memorial Day.

California-based Magnum, Patrick Valenzuela aboard, stopped the clock in 1:42.88, a swift time considering the course condition after an unexpected early afternoon downpour. Texcess, also California-based and a troubled third in last month's Texas Mile (gr. III), dictated the early pace and fought hard to the wire, finishing 4 ¼ lengths ahead of the late-running Real Dandy in third.

The Argentine-bred Magnum, carrying 117 pounds, paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.80 as the 6-5 betting choice in the field of 10. Texcess, who became a millionaire ($1,056,735) with his runner-up effort under Aaron Gryder, returned $5 and $4. Real Dandy, who jumped his earnings to $891,135, paid $8.60 with Quincy Hamilton in the irons.

The field was completed by Cosmonaut, Nakayama Kun, Dominguin, Stockholder, Texas Mile champ Preachinatthebar, Watchem Smokey and Wishingitwas.

Magnum settled nicely behind the leading group of Texcess, Watchem Smokey and Stockholder, who clicked off fractions of :23.13 for a quarter mile and :46.34 for the half. Valenzuela ranged his mount into contention four-wide on the turn for home and slipped a head in front of Texcess at the top of the lane.

"I knew I had a lot of horse in hand and at the three-eighths pole so I did ask him to pick it up a little bit," Valenzuela said. "Through the stretch he didn't want to change leads, but he did the last part and getting to the wire he just continued to accelerate."

The win was the fifth in 17 lifetime starts for Magnum, who began his career in his native Argentina. The triumph was worth $240,000 to trainer Darrell Vienna and owners Herrick Racing LLC. Magnum has now earned $618,414, including $573,600 in four starts this year.

In March, Magnum finished just three-quarters of a length behind Lava Man when second in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I). He also was a runner-up in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) to Buzzard's Bay seven weeks ago.

"He's just a really nice horse to be around," Vienna said of his charge. "I have to talk a little bit about Patrick today because his performance was extraordinary. I think it even out-shadowed Magnum's. He just rode a picture-perfect race. I was hoping he could get outside. He did and he did it so smoothly.

"He's a horse that's developing. I don't think we've seen the top end of him now. He's going to be catching some tougher fields we've got planned for him and this was a step along the way."

Next on Magnum's agenda will be the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) in July and the $1 million Pacific Classic(gr. I) in August.

Elsewhere in Lone Star Million races, trainer Patrick Biancone flew in six horses from Kentucky on Monday morning - one for each stakes races - and prevailed in the $150,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes with Stream Cat. Regular rider Julien Leparoux, the national win leader, was aboard for the 1 ½-length victory over Wait in Line. Stream Cat, winner of the Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT) on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs, ran 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:46.88 and earned $90,000 for owners Fab Oak Stable, John Goldthorpe and former Duke basketball star Bobby Hurley. Overall, the 3-year-old son of Black Minnaloushe has won four of seven starts and $313,828.

Trainer Steve Asmussen won his record 10th Lone Star Million stakes race when Red Lifesaver powered home in the stretch to nail front-running True Tails on the wire of the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes for fillies and mares. The 5-year-old mare, prevailing by a neck under jockey Luis Quinonez, ran six furlongs in 1:11.85 and paid $16.40, $6.80 and $4.20. It was her eighth win in 31 starts and the $60,000 winner's share of the purse jumped her earnings to $324,562. Asmussen's other starter in the race, Born to Dance, was pulled up on the turn for home after sustaining an injury to her left front ankle, according to jockey Jon Court. G G's Dolly, the 6-5 favorite, finished ninth and jockey Perry Compton said that she didn't handle the off going.

Quinonez also guided Brownie Points to victory in the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies. The Pin Oak Stud homebred rallied along the inside to narrowly defeat Sweet Idea by a head. Third in the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) last time out, Brownie Points was clocked in 1:24.49 and paid $5, $3.60 and $2.80 as the 3-2 choice. Her record improved to four wins and $175,350 in nine starts, all under the tutelage of trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel.

Sweepingly was a surprise winner of the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint Handicap at odds of 22-1. The 7-year-old gelding defeated the Biancone-trained Man of Illusion, a grade III winner who was sent out as the odds-on 2-5 favorite, by a half-length. Sweepingly covered five furlongs on turf in :57.83 and paid $47.80, $12.40 and $5.20 en route to his fourth straight victory and eighth overall in 25 career starts. The $60,000 winner's share increased the Florida-bred's earnings to $180,201. Alfredo Juarez Jr. rode the horse, a $10,000 claim in late 2004, for owner Dave Pleasant (a farrier in New Mexico) and trainer Chris Hartman.

(Chart, Equibase)