Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Pat Day will try capturing the marquee event on Texas' richest day of racing Monday with grade I winner Congaree.The 4-year-old son of Arazi will be gunning for the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III), the most lucrative of seven races that make up Lone Star Million Day at Lone Star Park near Dallas. Congaree hasn't started since Aug. 4 of last year when he finished third in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. I). During the race, the colt bled and wrenched his right front knee."We're very excited at the prospect of riding him," Day said. "It's his first race since last August, so how is he going to come back and is he going to have the same competitive zest that he showed last year? Is he going to return at the same level? Oftentimes, when they've had an injury, they don't. Believing that he does, given what he did last year, I would have to say he'd be very competitive in the handicap ranks this year."Congaree won four times and was third three times in seven starts last year. He won the Wood Memorial (gr. I) and the Swaps Stakes (gr. I), banking $1,063,400 for the year.Other possible competitors and their riders in the Lone Star Handicap are: multiple grade II stakes winner Freedom Crest (Jose Valdivia Jr.), the locally based Texas Mile winner Unrullah Bull (no rider, 117), Texas Mile runner-up Reba's Gold (David Flores), Texas-bred Horse of the Year Lights On Broadway (Cliff Berry), grade III winner Remington Rock (no rider), Whirlaway Handicap winner Valhol (Robby Albarado); L.A. Spider Legs (no rider); Mercenary (Casey Lambert), Mr. John (Mark Guidry); graded stakes placed Five Straight (no rider), and Race On Green (Alex Jimenez).The field will be limited to 14 horses with high weights preferred. Entries on all Lone Star Million Day races will be taken Saturday morning.Baffert and Day have never before won a race together."We're fixing to change that up on Monday afternoon," Day said.In other Lone Star Handicap news, Valhol breezed a bullet four furlongs in :47 4/5 on Thursday over a fast Lone Star Park track for trainer Dallas Keen. The work was the fastest of 18 at the distance by a full second.Other races to be featured on the Lone Star Million card are the $200,000 WinStar Distaff, $200,000 Diamond A-USA Stakes, $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint, $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes, $50,000 Carter McGregor Jr. Memorial Stakes, and $50,000 JEH Stallion Station Stakes.Day also has mounts on Dianehill in the WinStar Distaff and possibly Abajo in the Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint, according to his agent, Doc Danner.
Hallowed Dreams, the Louisiana-bred sensation, is expected to defend her crown in the Valid Expectations Stakes, a six-furlong dash for fillies and mares, which should attract stakes winners Hattiesburg, Southern Tour, and Spanish Glitter.Local hero Pleasant State will attempt to fend off California stakes stars Eurolink Raindance, Queen Of Wilshire and Blushing Bride as well as Kentucky runners Dianehill, La Recherche and Maltese Superb in the WinStar Distaff for fillies and mares at one mile on turf.Testify, the come-from-behind winner of the grade III Aegon Turf Sprint on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs, will be the 121-pound high weight in the five-furlong Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint for older horses. Nuclear Debate, the group 1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup champ in Europe a year ago, and Rocky Bar, a recent allowance winner, are expected in from California to challenge top locals Boots On Sunday and Joyful Tune.Legislator, winner of the grade III Crown Royal American Turf (also on the Kentucky Oaks undercard), is expected for the Diamond A-USA Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile grass race for 3-year-olds also could feature Diamond Hope, Paloma Parilla, and Regiment.