Lone Star Park May Get Breeders' Cup A Year Early

Lone Star Park is expected to become the host for its first Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships a year ahead of schedule.

The Dallas-area racetrack may be tagged to hold the 2004 championships in place of Churchill Downs' if Churchill's board of directors votes to proceed, as anticipated, with a $100 million renovation.

"Our information is that we should expect management to get the green light to move forward with their renovation plans," said Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief Jr. "If that happens, the logical plan for us to follow is to flip the events and ask Lone Star to take the event a year early."

Churchill's directors will make their decision when they meet in June following the company's annual stockholders meeting. The Breeders' Cup's board of directors will then make its decision during a July 12 meeting.

Churchill Downs is already on-track to begin the first phase of its two-phase renovation project. Crane will begin moving onto the track property the Monday following the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and construction will start on 66 premium suites, a new clubhouse area, renovation of the first floor grandstand, the installation of two new elevators, and a renovation of the first- and second-floor Jockey Club. The first phase will cost about $30 million.

"We will be able to go on through the next Derby without a big impact," said John Asher, Churchill Downs' vice president of racing communications. "The biggest changes are schedule to occur after next year's Derby."

If the second phase is approved, Churchill will build a new two-floor satellite wagering facility, new larger luxury suites, expand the Turf Club, add a new kitchen to the fourth floor, and add lights to both the turf and dirt courses among other things. The construction will disrupt the 2004 Derby, which is already being labeled the "Demolition Derby."

Even though Lone Star faces some additional work in preparing for its first Breeders' Cup, Van Clief said the track would have ample time to accommodate the 2003 event.