The silver anniversary season at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie will include plenty of gold and at least one Elvis sighting.
Lone Star Park, 20 minutes west of Dallas, is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a 48-day meet starting Thursday, April 28 through July 24. It’s Texas horse racing at its best, which means big races, big names, and big prizes.
Opening Day will include a 25th Anniversary cap giveaway for the first 1,000 fans, plus music from an Elvis-inspired act. Lone Star Park will also honor renowned trainer Steve Asmussen, who recently became the all-time winningest trainer in North America and is an Arlington resident.
Texas horses, stars and money come out at Lone Star
Asmussen has the most wins in Lone Star track history and owns 14 training titles at the track in his career. He had 71 victories at Lone Star in 2021 and 50 in 2020.
His rival is Karl Broberg, who won five Lone Star titles from 2014-2019.
Both men credit a tax passed by the Texas legislature in 2019 guiding a portion of sales of horse feed and supplies into purses.
“The quality has improved dramatically in a short period of time, regardless of the caliber of the race,” said Broberg in a press release.
“You’re seeing old faces that had abandoned Lone Star come back as well as new faces. People are just running their better stock there, as opposed to the lesser stock that they were able to get away with for those who had split stables.”
“With all the trials of horse racing now, the agriculture tax that Texas has in place that is supplementing their racing is proving to be very effective,” agreed Asmussen.
“I think the last couple of Texas sales have been up dramatically, which means better horses get to run for more money.”
Better horses, better wagering in Texas
Sam Houston Race Park just closed its 2022 winter season with over $13 million bets, including almost $6 million at the one-day Houston Racing Festival.
Trainers attribute the rise to the improved purses attracting quality thoroughbreds.
“Texas racing has gained a lot of momentum the last two years,” said trainer Bret Calhoun.
“I felt last summer was the best quality of horses they’d had there since the early days of Lone Star, so I thought it required a bit better horse to win the maiden and allowance races. You get better purses, you get better horses, fuller fields. It’s a domino effect, and I think you’ll see more of that this year.”
The increased purses also attract a better class of jockeys. Stewart Elliott is the defending Lone Star riding champ and is coming off a title at Sam Houston.
Elliott won the Kentucky Derby on Smarty Jones in 2004. Jockey Ry Eikleberry won 59 races at Sam Houston. He’s expected to ride the entire meet at Lone Star. Eikleberry has well over 1,000 career wins.
Highlights on the Lone Star card
Lone Star is going all out for its silver anniversary season. Opening Day will feature the Bluebonnet Stakes for Texas-bred fillies and mares, three years old and up.
Memorial Day (May 30) will feature six stakes races, including the $400,000 Steve Sexton Mile, the $300,000 Texas Derby (won by Warrant in 2021), and the inaugural $100,000 Speightstown Sprint for three-year-olds over six furlongs.
May 1 features a crawfish boil and Louisiana-themed zydeco music. Dog races are scheduled for May 22, extreme racing day (camels, zebras, and ostriches) June 25-26, and fireworks on July 3 and July 4.
Lone Star Showcase Day is June 19, highlighting the best Texas thoroughbreds. The Summer Turf Festival (July 16) and Stars of Texas Day (July 17) help close out the season.
What to know before you go to Lone Star Park
Lone Star Park is off of I-30 on Beltline Road. General admission is $5 every live racing day but $10 on Kentucky Derby Day. Reserved seating prices range from $5-40. General parking and handicap parking are free, and valet parking is available.
The season runs most Thursdays through Sundays. The first post on Thursdays and Fridays is 6:35 p.m. local time and 1:35 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.
The grandstand can hold approximately 8,000. Quarterhorse season runs from Sept. 16 to Dec. 17, with gates opening at 5 p.m.