Breeders' Cup Day Kicks Off; Weather Gorgeous

At 10:35 a.m. (local Central time), D.G. Van Clief Jr. walked to the microphone in the Lone Star Park winner's circle and the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships officially began.

Van Clief, president of the Breeders' Cup and commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, was flanked by Grand Prairie, Texas mayor Charles England, Lone Star Park president Corey Johnsen and other racetrack officials.

"This is the man who made all this happen," Van Clief said about England, who has joked that he stalked Van Clief until Breeders' Cup officials agreed to let Lone Star host the event.

After Van Clief spoke, the bugler blasted the call to the post and announcer Michael Wrona introduced the jockeys that will be riding in the eight grade I races worth a collective $14 million.

There are no late changes for the Breeders' Cup so far this morning, no scratches and no jockey changes.

Following the jockeys, the crowd rose while God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner were sung. Members of the Air Force presented the colors while a huge flag was unfurled on the racetrack.

The weather is by far the nicest day of the week, and officials seem to have a lucky star in that regard. The forecast is for rain all day on Sunday. At the track an hour to the first post, it is 68 degrees and the humidity is only 40 percent. Earlier in the week, it was considerably warmer and much more humid.

Fans were streaming into Lone Star and finding their locations. The crowd was not early arriving, as officials had suggested. Those who got to the track when the gates opened at 7 a.m. had no trouble parking and entering the facility. But as post time got within 90 minutes, traffic on Belt Line Rd. was backed up to Interstate 30 and it was taking a long time to move toward the track.

Because of some rain overnight in north Texas, the track was listed as good and the turf yielding. With only a small chance of rain Saturday, the main track condition could change to fast as the day progresses.

There is no general admission, with the number of tickets sold just under 54,000. This marks the second of the 21 Breeders' Cup days with no general admission, the other time being at Arlington Park in Chicago in 2002.

There is one race prior to the Breeders' Cup races, with a local post time of 11:40. The first Breeders' Cup race has a post time of 12:20. To help the traffic get out afterwards, there are three races after the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge. The Classic will be run at 4:35.