Bluesthestandard Slight Choice in Lone Star Handicap

(from track report)
Bluesthestandard, the slight 9-5 morning line favorite for Monday's $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III), will start from the outside post position in the field of eight.

The handicap is the richest of seven stakes events that make up the annual Memorial Day extravaganza known as Lone Star Million.

Bluesthestandard, who broke from the outside in his Texas Mile (gr. III) triumph last month, attempts to become just the second horse, along with Dixie Dot Com in 2001, to sweep both the Texas Mile and Lone Star Park Handicap, the meeting's two most prestigious events for older horses.

"He came out [of the Texas Mile] perfect, never missed a note," trainer Ted H. West said. "I think he improves after every race."

The 6-year-old Bluesthestandard is also going for his sixth win in a row. Prior to his easy four-length Texas Mile score, the gelding cruised to a two-length win in the Portrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita.

Southern California regular Martin Pedroza, who gave Bluesthestandard a perfect ride to secure position early in the Texas Mile, has the return mount.

Competing for favoritism will be Pass Rush, 2-1 on the morning line, who easily handled top 4-year-olds from California in the San Fernando Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Santa Anita earlier this year. The Patrick Byrne trainee has won two stakes in a row at 1 1/16 miles, the distance of Monday's race. In his last start, Pass Rush finished second to Aldebaran in the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) at seven furlongs.

Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day has the mount on Pass Rush for the first time since last year's West Virginia Derby (gr. III). Day won this race last year aboard Congaree.

Lone Star Million is the richest day in Texas racing. It could also be the richest day for Texas handicappers. Two Pick 4 wagers are being offered with a reduced takeout of just 15%, meaning that winning payoffs will be even larger than usual. The second Pick 4 of the day, comprised of all stakes, has a total of 41 horses entered and includes a pair of graded stakes, as well as two turf events.

Third choice on the morning line for the handicap went to Pie N Burger (7-2), winner of a May 9 allowance race in his first start for leading trainer Cole Norman. The 4-year-old gelding won five allowance races in Southern California over the past two years before a three-length score in his Texas debut. Pie N Burger is seeking the first stakes win of his career.

There is a 5-1 morning line entry from owners James Cassels and Bob Zollars made up of their two past Kentucky Derby starters, both trained by Steve Asmussen.

Private Emblem, last year's Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner, started 2003 with an impressive score in an Oaklawn Park allowance. The Our Emblem colt then went off as the second choice to Bluesthestandard in the Texas Mile, but didn't have anything in the stretch and settled for fourth.

"I think he's been training well," Asmussen said. "He ran real good the first time [this year] and may not have been quite as strong for his next race. Hopefully, he's bounced back and he'll be sharp."

Fifty Stars won his first race since the 2001 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) in a May 7 allowance at Lone Star Park. The 5-year-old Quiet American horse closed from dead last and cruised past the field to win by 2 ¾ lengths in the one-mile contest.

"With all respect to the horse, racing just wasn't his priority before," Asmussen said. "I was glad to see him put in an effort. He's always trained nice and looked beautiful, he just hadn't been trying."

$300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III), 3 & up, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Horse (Rider, Wgt., ML Odds)
1. Where's The Ring (Don Pettinger, 113 pounds, 12-1)
2. Maysville Slew (E.J. Perrodin, 114, 15-1)
3. Dusty Spike (Kerry Kretzer, 114, 20-1)
4. Private Emblem (Corey Lanerie, 115, 5-1)
5. Pie N Burger (Jamie Theriot, 114, 7-2)
6. Pass Rush (Pat Day, 118, 2-1)
7. Fifty Stars (Shane Sellers, 114, 5-1)
8. Bluesthestandard (Martin Pedroza, 120, 9-5)