Despite Grade III Status, Lone Star Derby Drops Out as Ky. Derby Prep

The Lone Star Derby (gr. III) has become Texas' richest graded stakes race, but it has dropped out of position as a prep race for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). Lone Star Park near Dallas will run its marquee 1 1/8-mile race for three-year-olds on May 11 next year, one week after the Kentucky Derby.

"We continue to look for ways to attract the best racing product to Texas, and believe that's evident by the change we've made to the Lone Star Derby and other races on our schedule," said Lone Star Park president and general manager Corey Johnsen. "I'm confident we'll continue to attract some of the nation's best horses to Lone Star Park."

The Lone Star Derby was awarded grade III status by the American Graded Stakes Committee in late November. The race joins the $300,000 Texas Mile (gr. III) and $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III) as the only graded stakes events in Texas. Lone Star Park will run 30 stakes worth a total of $4.125 million, including 13 with purses of $100,000 or more, during its 15-week season that begins April 4.

A new race is the $150,000 Stonerside Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-old fillies to be run May 25. The race is one month after the Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) run under the same conditions at Keeneland Race Course.

"We're hopeful this race will someday join our graded stakes lineup," Johnsen said. "We expect to attract top quality 3-year-old fillies to the race with its positioning just days before our Lone Star Million."

Lone Star Million Day, scheduled for May 27 (Memorial Day), will offer seven stakes worth a total of $1 million. The centerpiece is the Lone Star Park Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. Also on the program are the $200,000 Diamond "A" USA Stakes (3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf), $200,000 WinStar Distaff (fillies and mares at one mile on turf), $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint (older horses at five furlongs on turf) and $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes (fillies and mares at six furlongs).

Lone Star Park's other major races are the Texas Mile for older horses on April 27; the $250,000 Dallas Turf Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf test for 3-year-olds and up on June 15; and the $125,000 Walmac Lone Star Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf on July 4.