Fall Breeders' Cup Meeting Begins at Lone Star Park

Edited from a Lone Star Park release
The 19-day fall meet at Texas' Lone Star Park--culminating with the 21st Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships--will kick off Oct. 1 with a special appearance by Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day and the first of four $100,000 stakes events on opening weekend.

This is the first time that Thoroughbred racing will be staged at Lone Star Park in the fall. The traditional American Quarter Horse dates were moved to Sam Houston Race Park this year so Lone Star Park could have a five-week build up to the Breeders' Cup.

In addition to the Championship, the meet includes the International Jockey Championship Oct. 28 (nine jockeys in a three-race series vying for points and $220,000 in prize and purse money), while the $250,000 Walmac Lone Star Derby (gr. III) headlines a stakes tripleheader Oct. 29. Plus, Lone Star Park will host Stars of Texas Day (10 races, including four stakes events, exclusively for Texas-bred horses) one week before the Breeders' Cup Oct. 23.

Once horses spring from the starting gate on Oct. 1, live Thoroughbred racing will take place every Thursday through Sunday in October. The first live race on weeknights will be 6:35 p.m. CT through Oct. 22. All weekend racing, as well as the Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 programs on Breeders' Cup week, will start at 1:35 p.m. CT. The lone exception is Breeders' Cup Day, which begins early at 11:40 a.m. to accommodate a live five-hour broadcast on NBC Sports from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. CT.

Extreme Makeover

In order to host the Breeders' Cup before an already sold-out crowd of 51,034, Lone Star Park has undergone an extensive renovation. More than $8.5 million worth of improvements, including the placement of 39,000 temporary seats that will stretch around most of the facility, is nearly complete. There are new barns, apron box seats and a 10,000 square-foot addition to the second floor grandstand called "Champions." The winner's circle and saddling paddock were widened and paved with rubberized brick and more than $250,000 was spent on new landscaping.

A large bronze statue of Texas-owned 1988 Horse of the Year Alysheba. The 1,000-pound bronze by renowned equine artist Lisa Perry sits inside the newly landscaped valet parking circle near the East Gate entrance.

Also, the City of Grand Prairie and the Texas Department of Transportation recently completed an expansion of Belt Line Road, the main thoroughfare into and out of Lone Star Park. The area of the roadway near Lone Star Park, to be christened "The Grand Prairie Entertainment District," was widened from four lanes to six.

In the grandstand, bettors will be able to use new simplified wagering machines, pending Texas Racing Commission approval. Called "The Horse Wizard," the 31 machines on the first floor will offer a simple wagering menu for a live or simulcast race every three to five minutes, complete with the audio and visual fanfare of an arcade game or slot machine.

Quality Racing Features $239,000 Daily

More than $18.7 million in purses will be offered at the meeting, or $239,000 daily when you subtract out the $14.4 million up for grabs on Breeders' Cup Day alone. Twenty-six stakes races are scheduled, including four on opening weekend that could offer a "Breeders' Cup Preview."

Winners of the two one-mile 2-year-old stakes– the $100,000 Silver Spur Breeders' Cup for fillies on Oct. 1 and the $100,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup Stakes for colts and geldings on Oct. 3 - could show up in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and $1.5 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile, respectively.

The $100,000 Yellow Rose Breeders' Cup Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile turf test on Oct. 3, could also produce a starter for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Meanwhile, Saturday's $100,000 Alysheba Breeders' Cup Stakes is the final chance for a 3-year-old to sprint six furlongs against his/her own age group before facing older foes in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint.