Lone Star Handicap Attracts Vienna's Magnum

(from Lone Star Park report)
A $100,000 purse boost since last year is helping to lure the deepest field in race history for Monday's Grade III, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap.

The top three finishers from April's Grade III Texas Mile --Preachinatthebar, Stockholder and Texcess -- are all scheduled to return in the season's richest race. They'll have to deal with a new shooter to these parts in Magnum, the runner-up in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) as well as last month's Oaklawn Park Handicap (gr. II).

The Lone Star Park Handicap is the featured race on the annual Memorial Day program known as Lone Star Million. The richest annual day of racing in Texas comprises six stakes worth $1 million in purses. Fans can also look forward to the $200,000 WinStar Distaff (gr. III), the $150,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes for 3-year-olds, the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint, the $100,000 Stonerside Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, and the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes for female sprinters.

Magnum posted one of the year's highest Beyer Speed Figures in a North American route race with a 112 in his Big 'Cap (Santa Anita Handicap) effort. Lava Man, the national earnings leading among older horses and the leading vote getter in the latest NTRA Thoroughbred Poll, won the race. Less than one length separated Lava Man and Magnum at the wire and he finished 7 1/2 lengths ahead of the rest of the field.

Trainer Darrell Vienna believes Magnum is the type of horse that could end up running in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) this fall.

"I do believe he is that good, but he really would need to earn his way because of the cost of supplementing him," Vienna said. "Tentatively what we're considering is the WinStar, the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and the Pacific Classic (gr. I). Each one of those is a steppingstone, though, and if we slip on one of the stones we could change course."

Magnum hasn't raced since the April 8 Oaklawn 'Cap, but has trained weekly at his Santa Anita Park base. Vienna said he came out of the Oaklawn race "like he didn't even run." Most recently, the 5-year-old worked six furlongs Friday in 1:12 2/5, handily, precisely the same as his previous move six days prior.

Patrick Valenzuela, tied for first in the Hollywood Park jockey standings entering Wednesday, will ride Magnum for the first time at Lone Star.