Race card includes five $75,000 stakes events for Texas-breds or Texas Stallion-sired Thoroughbreds.
By Gary West, national Turf journalist
Grand Prairie, TX — June 15, 2022– Texas racing’s immediate future and its recent past will both be on display Sunday during Lone Star Park’s Showcase Day. Specifically featured in this showcase are racehorses bred in Texas or those sired by Texas stallions; they’re converging on five stakes races, each offering a purse of $75,000. Most notable, perhaps, are the Texas Stallion Stakes races for juveniles — the Staunch Avenger division for colts and geldings and the Pan Zareta division for fillies. Contested over five-eighths of a mile, both have attracted a large field, which is especially meaningful because these 2-year-olds represent the first crop of Texas-sired horses to reach the races since the creation of the Horse Industry Escrow Account. In other words, the impact of the legislation — seen at racetracks with the doubling of purses — is becoming evident throughout the state’s horse industry.
Named for the speedster who was the leading sire in Texas throughout the 1980s, the Staunch Avenger has attracted two youngsters who already have hinted at considerable potential. Before his debut, I’m A Cowboy had flashed speed in early morning workouts, according to Lone Star clocker Rick Lee. And in his debut, he flashed something else entirely, come-from-behind versatility. Rallying four-wide, he drew off to win by more than three lengths, completing the five-eighths of a mile in :59.45, a solid clocking for the day. So perhaps he shouted, rather than hinted, at potential. I’m A Cowboy is a son of Bradester, a Grade 1 winner of $1,196,332.
When Bradester won the 2016 Stephen Foster (G1) Stakes at Churchill Downs, he led throughout, persevering to finish a half-length ahead of a late-charging colt named Eagle. Ironically, on Sunday, I’m A Cowboy will take on a son of Eagle, a first-time starter named Legal Eagle. Like his sire, he’ll probably be better suited for longer distances, explained his trainer, Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, but the colt has trained well enough to insist he deserves the opportunity in the Staunch Avenger.
Asmussen also will saddle Bling Bling Bling in the race. Purchased as a yearling by Corinne and Bill Heiligbrodt of Houston for $175,000, the colt is a son of Texas’ leading stallion, Too Much Bling. As the 6-5 favorite, Bling Bling Bling finished third in his debut at Churchill behind a youngster named Two of a Kind, who then, in his very next outing, won the Tremont Stakes at Belmont Park.
“He’s a very impressive colt,” Asmussen said about Bling Bling Bling, “who just happens to be a Texas-bred.”
Named for the Hall of Famer who was bred in Sweetwater, Texas, and won 76 races in her career, the Pan Zareta has attracted a full field of largely unproven fillies. Several of them, in fact, are unraced. At least two of those unraced fillies, stablemates Waving Bye and Sing it Bessie, have sparkled in early morning workouts, according to Lee. Of those who have started, Come to the Party could be most intriguing. From the inside post position, she had to be asked for speed away from the gate in her debut and found herself in a scrum for an early advantage. When the situation became too tight for comfort, she had to be checked sharply. Still, she persevered to be third.
“She had an unfortunate draw and trip in her debut,” Asmussen said about the filly he’ll saddle in the Pan Zareta, “but she should have a better opportunity here to show what she can do.”
Sunday’s Showcase races begin with the seventh on the card, the Wayne Hanks Memorial, where Algebra and Mac B Quick will both be going for a third consecutive win. The eighth race, the Texas Hall of Fame Stakes, which matches older horses on the turf, has attracted stakes winners Bubba Bling and Kenai Bob.
The final stakes race on the Showcase program, the Lane’s End Danny Shifflett Scholarship Stakes, might be the most contentious and exciting event of the afternoon, for it has attracted many of Texas’ most accomplished fillies and mares, some standouts, in other words, from the recent past. Ima Discreet Lady, for example, has earned $476,011 in her career while winning 11 of her 36 starts. And Boerne has earned $316,697 while winning eight of her 22 outings. Both are Texas champions. Also among those entered are stakes winners Discreet Smile (six wins, $168,761 in earnings), a speedster who should appreciate an especially firm and sun-baked turf course; No Mas Tequila (five wins, $206,734), who already has won two stakes this year; and Miss Perfecta (10 wins, $227,490), who won the Fiesta Mile here a year ago.
They’re so close in proven ability, their talents so nearly comparable, that their trips, as well as simple racing luck, could very well determine the outcome. But the day’s finale could also come down to such a simple matter as who feels most comfortable and at home on this turf course. No Mas Tequila possesses the best recent form, to be sure, having won the San Jacinto and Miss Bluebonnet Stakes. But she delivered those performances on Sam Houston’s course; on the Lone Star grass, however, she’s winless in five outings. In fact, including starts on the main track, she has but a single victory in her 10 races in Grand Prairie; at all other tracks, she has won seven of her 12 races. So who’s the horse for this course? Well, Boerne has won two of her three races on the Lone Star turf, her only loss being a runner-up finish last year in the Fiesta Mile behind Miss Perfecta, who also seems to be at her best on the local grass.
Could they combine to produce another exacta? Perhaps, and in so doing they’d combine the recent past with the immediate future on Lone Star Showcase Day.
Sunday’s first race post time is 1:35 pm (CDT). For reservations and to purchase tickets visit lonestarpark.com.