Competitive Lone Star 'Cap Heads 'Million Card

(from Lone Star Park report)
Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Magnum and the top four finishers from last month's Texas Mile (gr. III) top a competitive field of 10 older horses for Monday's $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III).

The 1 1/16-mile event, which lured five graded stakes winners, will serves as a climax for a six-race stakes bonanza that comprises Texas' richest annual day of horse racing -- the eighth Lone Star Million at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Also on the special 11-race Memorial Day program is the $200,000 WinStar Distaff Handicap (gr. IIIT), a one-mile turf test that lured grade I stakes winner Sweet Talker, defending champ Katdogawn and eight other fillies and mares.

Magnum, the 8-5 favorite trained by Darrell Vienna, has runner-up efforts in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and $500,000 Oaklawn Park Handicap (gr. II). In Santa Anita's Big 'Cap, the 5-year-old Argentine-bred was beaten only three-quarters of a length by Lava Man, who tops the latest NTRA Thoroughbred Poll.

Trainer Bob Baffert, who has won 12 Lone Star Park stakes since the racetrack opened in 1997, will attempt to complete the rare "Texas Two-Step" with Texas Mile champ Preachinatthebar. Dixie Dot Com, in 2001, is the only horse to sweep both of Lone Star's marquee races for older horses.

"All systems go," said Baffert, who saddled Congaree to win the 2002 Lone Star Park Handicap. In the April 29 Texas Mile, Preachinatthebar, a 5-year-old son of Silver Charm, held off late charges from Stockholder and Texcess, who, along with fourth and sixth place finishers Nakayama Run and Peruvian star Dominguin, he'll meet again Monday.

$400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III, Race 10, 5:47 p.m.), 3 Y Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Magnum (ARG), Patrick A. Valenzuela, 117, 9/5
2. Real Dandy (KY), Quincy Hamilton, 116, 20/1
3. Texcess (CA), Aaron T. Gryder, 116, 7/2
4. Watchem Smokey (OK), Kerwin D. Clark, 115, 12/1
5. Wishingitwas (KY), M. Clifton Berry, 113, 30/1
6. Cosmonaut (KY), Julien R. Leparoux, 116, 8/1
7. Preachinatthebar (KY), Jon K. Court, 121, 3/1
8. Dominguin (PER), Ramon A. Dominguez, 114, 30/1
9. Nakayama Kun (KY), Rafael Mojica, Jr., 116, 30/1
10. Stockholder (CA), Luis S. Quinonez, 116, 10/1

Graham Motion returns to the sight of his biggest win, the 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) with Better Talk Now. He'll saddle 4-year-old filly Sweet Talker, the 9-5 early choice for the WinStar Distaff. Last year's upset Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) winner at Keeneland was successful in her 2006 debut, winning last month's $60,000 Dahlia Stakes at Laurel Park, an easy start to a campaign that could establish her as one of the nation's premier turf distaffers.

Sweet Talker, purchased by Courtland Farms last November for $1.15 million, has dazzled on turf, winning six of eight starts, including three in a row. "I think she's just a very honest, hard-trying filly," Motion said. "My feelings are very good about coming back to Lone Star. I have very good memories of it."

Among the challengers for Sweet Talker is two-time Grade II stakes winner Katdogawn, who won the race last year by 1 ½ lengths over a course rated "yielding." That won't be the case this year as temperatures are expected to be in the 90s with no rain in the forecast.

$200,000 WinStar Distaff Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 5:19 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Sweet Talker (KY), Ramon A. Dominguez, 120, 9/5
2. My Misty Princess (KY), Luis S. Quinonez, 116, 20/1
3. Katdogawn (GB), Aaron T. Gryder, 119, 7/2
4. Paz Ciudadana (CHI), Quincy Hamilton, 117, 12/1
5. Lock And Key (IRE), Patrick A. Valenzuela, 116, 4/1
6. Stretching (KY), Ted D. Gondron, 114, 30/1
7. Joint Aspiration (GB), Julien R. Leparoux, 115, 6/1
8. Caviar Emptor (KY), M. Clifton Berry, 115, 20/1
9. Stela (CHI), Jamie Theriot, 115, 30/1
10. Peaceful Love (GER), Jon K. Court, 115, 12/1

Trainer Patrick Biancone and Julien Leparoux, who team with Grade III stakes winner Cosmonaut in the Lone Star Park Handicap and Joint Aspiration in the WinStar Distaff, are particularly live in two other Lone Star Million stakes.

Crown Royal American Turf (gr. IIIT) winner Stream Cat will be challenged in the $150,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes by Desert Wheat and Wait in Line, runner-ups in the Grand Prairie Turf Challenge and Grade III Walmac Lone Star Derby, respectively. The 1 1/16-mile turf event for 3-year-olds also lured the Steve Asmussen-trained More Than Regal, who will try turf for the first time after finishing fourth in the Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) earlier this year. Two years ago, Asmussen, the three-time national win leader, won a record four Lone Star Million stakes races.

Australian-bred Man Of Illusion, winner of the Aegon Turf Sprint (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day, heads the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint Handicap at five furlongs on turf. His seven challengers include eight-time Southwest stakes winner That Tat, recent Santa Anita winner Crystal Castle and defending race champ Oncearoundtwice.

Elsewhere, G G's Dolly, first or second in 10 of her 11 starts and recent winner of the $50,000 Prairie Rose Stakes in Iowa for trainer Kelly Von Hemel, will face nine fillies and mares in the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes at six furlongs. She'll have to face swift two-time Lone Star stakes winner True Tails; recent Sunland Park stakes champ Red Lifesaver; and Trolley's Last, a half-sister to Unbridled's Song who will try dirt for the first time.

Von Hemel's brother Donnie will start Martha Washington Stakes heroine Brownie Points, most recently third in the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II), in the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes. Also in the seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies is Beholden from the barn of Eoin Harty, who won the race last year with R Fast Lady.