Lone Star Park Race Report: Show Stoppers

Published in the June 2 issue of The Blood-Horse
Dixie Dot Com got top billing. After all, he had the most lines, delivered them eloquently, earned the largest paycheck, became a millionaire, and left behind a sweet track record, just for remembrance. But Hallowed Dreams stopped the show.

A crowd of 19,027 came out to Lone Star Park on Memorial Day to see seven stakes races worth $1 million. It was Lone Star Million Day, starring the king of the comeback and the queen of the bayou. And the royalty didn't disappoint. Observers who admire the spectacle of regal haughtiness got it, as Dixie Dot Com dominated seven overmatched rivals in the grade III, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap and Hallowed Dreams sped to the 22nd victory of her career while winning the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes.

When jockey David Flores nudged him in the second turn, Dixie Dot Com moved by Fan the Flame and to the lead so easily that the outcome seemed inevitable, or at least familiar. Dixie Dot Com had made precisely the same move just a month earlier on his way to winning the grade III $300,000 Texas Mile by 6 1/2 lengths over a field that included Wooden Phone and Hal's Hope.

But on Memorial Day, Dixie Dot Com was even more emphatic, his victory even easier. With little encouragement from Flores, the 6-year-old son of Dixie Brass drew off to win by 7 1/4 lengths. Fan the Flame held second, and Big Numbers rallied mildly to get up for third, another 1 1/2 lengths back.

Dixie Dot Com narrowly missed a track record in the Texas Mile. He didn't miss a second time. He completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.53, better than the 1:40.87 set by Luftikus while winning last year's Lone Star Park Handicap.

The victory was the eighth in 20 starts for Dixie Dot Com, who earned $180,000 for owners Ronelle and Bart Heller and Carole and Don Chaiken, all of Northern California. With the win, Dixie Dot Com pushed his bankroll to $1,042,775. Even though his career has been compromised by a recurring stress fracture, the venerable veteran has won at least one stakes race each year since 1997.

"He was more relaxed, more comfortable," Flores said. "I just moved my hands a little bit, and he went right to the lead. It was like a nice workout for him."

When Dixie Dot Com is at his best, as he has been in the two races at Lone Star, he's capable of competing with anybody, Flores said. Dixie Dot Com's trainer, Bill Morey Jr., indicated the new millionaire will probably make his next appearance July 7 in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III).

In the Valid Expectations, Hallowed Dreams made her first start outside Louisiana. Although the surroundings were new, the outcome was familiar. The powerful Louisiana-bred filly sprinted to a clear advantage, running the opening half-mile in :43.76, and when challenged, she easily asserted her superiority to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Applause welcomed her to the winner's circle.

Sweet and Firm, who made a threatening gesture at the top of the stretch, held on for second, and Naturalingredients finished third.

Hallowed Dreams completed the six furlongs in 1:08.34, the second-fastest clocking at the distance in the history of the track, behind only the 1:08.06 record set earlier in the day by Triple Card in the $50,000 Carter McGregor Jr. Memorial Stakes. Overnight rains left the track, which had been sealed, extremely fast, especially early in the card.

The victory was Hallowed Dreams' 22nd in 23 races, and pushed her earnings to $617,944. Last year, of course, she equaled a modern national record when she won 16 consecutive races.

"I just thank God for her," said winning jockey Sylvester Carmouche. "She writes my checks."

Lloyd Romero, the 66-year-old trainer who owns the filly in partnership with Johnny Gaspard, has Parkinson's disease. And according to Gaspard, Romero was having a mild seizure after the race.

"This is why we don't like to travel," Gaspard said, referring to Romero's medical problems. "A lot of people have criticized us for not taking the filly on the road, but we have a very special horse."

Special indeed -- one look at her reveals that. Few fillies are put together so powerfully and gracefully. She's special, of course, because of her incomparable record. And on Memorial Day at Lone Star Park, she was special as the only performer who could have possibly followed Dixie Dot Com's act.