Saturday, April 28, 2012

Texas Mile Today. Pool Party Next Week.

Today Lone Star Park takes a break from its concert schedule to feature a horse race, the $200,000 Texas Mile (Gr. 3).

The race has attracted a nice field of 10, with a couple of notable shippers. Canonize, winner of the Santana Mile, ships in from Santa Anita and clearly looks like the horse to beat. Rumor has it that once he discovered an element called "dirt", he turned into a new racehorse.

Trainer Eoin Harty brings in Endorsement. He recently ran some nice allowance/optional claiming races at Gulfstream. You may remember him from winning the Sunland Derby in 2010. With visions of roses dancing in his head, he unfortunately sustained a non-displaced right front condylar fracture in a workout at Churchill Downs the week before the Kentucky Derby. He's owned by one of our favorite owners and pseudo-fan of Post Parade, Bill Casner.  

Coyote Legend returns to Lone Star Park, where he's enjoyed success. He's trained by Bret Calhoun, who's on a hot streak and just recently enjoyed his 2,000th win. And he'll have hot jockey and Lone Star's all-time leading rider, Cliff Berry, aboard.

 However, I never pass up anything that trainer Donnie Von Hemmel puts on the racetrack, especially here at Lone Star Park. He saddles Moonshine Mullin who recently raced at Oaklawn Park. He's eligible to improve in his 3rd start of his cycle. And at nice odds (morning line of 12/1), he would help pay for that pool resurfacing that I so badly need this spring.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Looking for Dollar Day? Well, Search No More.

Google query: Lone Star Park Dollar Day

Teeming millions have been on a recent cyber-treasure hunt, searching for one of the most popular promotions ever cooked-up by Lone Star Park: Dollar Day. It's not listed on the 2012 Calendar of Concerts Events, and many are thinking, "Clearly, the omission of Dollar Day is a mistake! Why, it must be an oversight!"

Well, query no more, oh Band of Dollar Day Diehards. There is no mistake. There is no oversight.

There is NO Dollar Day this racing season.

I asked Vice President G.W. Hail to shed a little light on the decision; perhaps offer reasons and insights. He responded, "As with any promotion, we always evaluate them from year to year. This year we decided to offer more concerts tying into our new themeline 'Racing That Rocks You.'"

Interestingly enough, Dollar Day originated in the spring of 2004. I had always heard through anecdotal information that it was created prior to Lone Star Park hosting the 2004 Breeders' Cup to draw a small horde of bettors, providing a "practice run of insanity", if you will. However, G.W. set the record straight, "It was a late addition to our promo schedule to fill a date and didn't receive any media support other than a direct mail letter and a spot in the Kentucky Derby telecast. We projected 10,000 and were pleasantly surprised when over 20,000 customers showed up." Completely unrelated to Breeders' Cup hoopla.

So there you have it.

Rock on.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bar! Bar! Bar!

Last night Global Gaming Solutions, LLC (GGS), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation, ushered in a new era at Lone Star Park. Their Trifecta for the Pursuant of Entertainment, Gaming and Racing is comprised of:

    Horse racing

Not necessarily in that order.

Gone is Chef Jake and his Cajun Kitchen; in its place is the Dash for Cash Bar. The beloved Blue Bell Ice Cream kiosk, a must on hot days and/or when kids are in tow, has been eliminated - replaced by a gift shop kiosk because said former gift shop is now a bar. And, as mentioned previously, the former Post Time Pavilion is now the wildly popular Bar & Book with more beers and drink specials than Triple Crown nominees.

There are 9 concerts on the schedule. Additionally, there are concerts after concerts at the Bar & Book. It's conceivable that the Bar & Book could end up staying open until 2:00 a.m. Australian racing, anyone?

One can surmise with all the changes at Lone Star Park, including discarding Dollar Day, there is a notable shift toward adult entertainment.

And how does this Mom - a horse racing fan and bettor whose companions, on occasion, are her children - feel about these changes?

Frankly, Global Gaming is calling a spade a spade: horse racing is gaming. And you don't create a small empire on Exit 1, Oklahoma, by being The Family Fun Park.

Opening Night Notes
Almost 9,000 were in attendance last night, up 3% from last year. According to Vice President G.W. Hail, the Bar & Book was "packed because of Happy Hour specials from 4-7 p.m."

The $50,000 Premiere Stakes, shortened from 1 1/16 mi to 6 1/2 f, was won by Gold Element, trained by Bret Calhoun; winning jockey, the up-and-coming Lindey Wade. As a matter of fact, Lindey had two winners on the card last night. And he's still a real cutie-pie and I would adopt him if I could. (Sorry, Mama Wade).

And I made a new friend: The Yard of Margarita!

Purchased at the Bar of the Former Gift Shop for a reasonable $9.75 for 500 ml of pure frozen delight, it presented itself with a couple of minor flaws:

Melts before completion, leaving wino with a short straw

Finally, it was great to have the evening end with our good friend, trainer Dallas Keen, in the Winner's Circle with Hy Lime Time. That would be a horse, not some exotic cocktail served at the Bar & Book.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lone Star Park Preview Party

Tomorrow is Opening Night of Lone Star Park's 2012 Spring Thoroughbred Season. As a perennial patron during the live racing season, each year I hope for something "new" and/or "improved". And this year is no different! New owners! New Bar & Book! So, with 2012 racing drawing nigh, today we are lounging poolside with margaritas and Wi-fi to bring you The 2012 Lone Star Park Preview Party!

Immediately, we find a number of "new" items on this year's racing calendar.

1. There are more concerts than stakes races. Okay, I'm exaggerating. There are 12 stakes races and 9 concerts. That would probably explain why Lone Star Park updated their Facebook banner and are promoting the lingo, "Racing that Rocks You." Although Lone Star Park is actually a very nice venue to hold concerts, it has a tendency to fill up rather rapidly with a very young crowd (read: not old enough to bet) because it's cheap if you arrive before the 7th or 8th race. Which leads us to another change,

2. Lone Star Park's New Concert Age Policy. Entry to concerts requires one to be 18 or older with a valid ID unless accompanied by a 30-year-old or older appropriately notarized legal guardian. Limit 3 juvies per notarized legal guardian. Notarized legal guardian is strongly encouraged to wager and contribute to on-track handle. The junior and senior classes of Trinity High School are to make other plans next Friday night and/or secure a number of notarized legal guardians to see the Casey Donahew Band.

3. Dollar Day Disappears. Lone Star Park has eliminated its most popular promotions, Dollar Day. A day when entry into the racetrack was very affordable ($1), racing programs were affordable ($1), hot dogs were affordable ($1), and beer was even more affordable ($1). People love it! A day when you could bring your entire family or the junior and senior classes of Trinity High School, feed them, have fun, and still have enough money to put gas in your car on Monday morning. Last year, the event attracted well over 16,000 people. Wouldn't most entertainment establishments consider that a "raging success"? Well, after perusing through Facebook comments, it appears that Lone Star's decision to discard the beloved Dollar Day is proving to be unpopular. Their response,
There aren't any Dollar Days this year.. however, we have several other great promotions running along with drink specails [sic] including Party at the Park on Friday nights with $2 beer!

Good-bye family friendly environment. Hello, betting and drinking public. Leave the kids at home but be sure to bring your dictionaries!

4. Lone Star Million $300K Day is newly christened WinStar Million Day. When Lone Star Park amputated numerous stakes from its schedule, this is the day that suffered. Historically, Memorial Day featured the richest and best day of racing in Texas. This year, Memorial Day features the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap (G3) and a Food Truck Festival.

Excuse me while I take a big slurp of my margarita ... I'm beginning to feel a little disheartened during our Preview Party ...

5. Triple Crown Good News! Simulcasting is still available for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes!

Of course, there are other intriguing promotions that are noteworthy. The wildly popular Jockeys & Java makes its return May 27. There's Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Silks and Party in the Park every Friday night - although it's noteworthy that last year's beer specials were $1 but this year it's $2.

Regardless, tomorrow night we're off! The Premiere Stakes opening night, concerts Friday and Saturday night - be sure to bring your appropriate notarized legal guardian. And on Sunday it's Family Fun Day featuring Camel and Ostrich Races! And I don't care what "horse racing purists" say, they're fun! Besides, as this Preview Party clearly demonstrates, it's not about the racing ...

Time to get me a "new" margarita.