On the heels of a record wagering day, Lone Star Park was set to host its first Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships with an improved weather forecast and a flurry of activity the morning of the event at the Texas racetrack.
Employees, who parked at a local high school in Grand Prairie, made their way to the facility beginning at 3:30 a.m. With the lights on around the racetrack, members of the staff wiped the dew off thousands of seats on the track apron. A few horses galloped on the track for a morning workout.
Lone Star officials were expecting an early arriving crowd. They opened the gates to the public at 7 a.m., and track announcer Michael Wrona issued his first welcome over the public address system about five minutes later.
The chance of showers for Oct. 30 was reduced to about 20%, with mainly clear skies and temperatures in the upper 70s. Rain was forecast to move into the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex well after the final Breeders' Cup race has been run.
On Oct. 29, Lone Star reported attendance of 25,015, or roughly half the number of patrons that will be permitted access on Breeders' Cup day. Some sat in temporary seats, but the bulk of the crowd was concentrated in the grandstand/clubhouse facility and on the apron.
"It was awesome," said Darren Rogers, director of communications for Lone Star. "It was a great warm-up for us. The amazing thing was we met every goal we had for (Oct. 28-29). Our goal was to have the biggest day in Lone Star Park history, and then break it again on Breeders' Cup day."
The attendance wasn't a record, but business at the betting windows was brisk. On-track handle on 11 live races was $2,373,965, well above the previous record of more than $1.7 million set April 18, 1999. Total handle on the live product was $6,365,758, which topped the $6 million bet on May 28, 2001.
The track surface was rated fast Oct. 29, and it played fast. Golden Eagle Farm's Yearly Report, trained by Bob Baffert, won the $150,000 Stonerside Stakes in track-record time for seven furlongs. The fractions for the race were :21.95, :43.84, 1:08.34, and 1:20.67 for seven furlongs.