The committee members at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie have compiled their 20 most memorable moments in celebration of the racetrack’s 20th anniversary.
The thoroughbred racing season begins Thursday. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. The first live race is 6:35 p.m. Admission is $5 and parking is free.
The track will have several anniversary giveaways, including magnetic schedules for the first 3,000 fans on Thursday.
Here’s a look at 20 memorable moments:
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On Belmont Stakes Day, June 10, the single largest payout, $702,114, was paid to a Lone Star Park patron for having a winning Pick-6 ticket from Belmont Park. The winning horse on that ticket was Creator, trained by local all-time leading trainer Steve Asmussen.
Lone Star Park hosted the AQHA Bank of America Challenge Championships for the fifth time. The Grand Prairie track also hosted the event in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2006.
Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird was a huge hit with fans when he made an appearance at Lone Star Park in 2014 to promote his movie, “50 to 1.” The film was the creation of Oscar-winning producer Jim Wilson (“Dances With Wolves”).
Lone Star Park’s giant infield Daktronics board was installed, replacing the aging Jumbotron.
Future Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen notched his 1,000th Lone Star Park win on April 14. The first of those 1,000 wins was on April 17, 1997, the first day racing was held at the Grand Prairie track.
Global Gaming Solutions purchases Lone Star Park from Magna Entertainment Corp. and launches a new era.
Champion Thoroughbred Game on Dude won the Lone Star Derby by 4 1/2 lengths on May 8. That same year, Blake Shelton, country music superstar and a panelist on TV’s enormously popular show “The Voice,” performed a post-race concert.
Lone Star Park’s all-time leading trainer Steve Asmussen wins a record 117 races in a single season in 2009, shattering the previous record of 95 set by trainer Cole Norman in 2003. Also, American Quarter Horse Champion Tempting Dash, a 2-year-old colt, breaks his own track record with his win in the Grade 1 Texas Classic Futurity. The colt was four-for-four at Lone Star Park, for which he earned $673,970.
20-to-1 long shot Joe Move established a new stakes record of 55.39 for five furlongs in 2008 when he won the 12th running of the Lone Star Park Turf Sprint for owner/trainer Richard Bird. Jockey Eguard Tejera took Joe Move wire to wire in a move that was only .26 second off the horse’s own track record of 55.13, set July 15, 2007, and eclipsing the previous stakes record of 55.60 set by Caro’s Royalty in the inaugural running of the race June 28, 1997.
Lone Star Park unveiled the new Lone Star Park Hall of Fame with a foundation class of 14 inductees. They were: Horses Anet, Kool Kue Baby and Mocha Express; jockey Ronald Ardoin; trainers Steve Asmussen, Jack Brooks and Bob Baffert; owners Tom Durant and Jim and Marilyn Helzer; dignitaries the Trammell Crow family, Grand Prairie Mayor Charles England, Corey S. Johnsen, and Robert L. Kaminski; and horseplayer J.S. “Ponti” Campagna.
Bob Baffert-trained Wanna Runner dominated the Grade III Walmac Lone Star Derby and easily defeated long shot Wait in Line by 5 1/4 lengths under a hand ride — the largest margin of victory in the race’s 10-year history.
Lone Star Park welcomed its 10 millionth fan, Dan Schaap of Canyon, who was rewarded with a suite for the day plus a $100 voucher, lifetime admission, and lifetime parking.
Lone Star Park hosted the 21st Breeders’ Cup with a facility record 53,717 attending. It was the fasted sellout in Breeders’ Cup history. Also, Ghost Zapper set a track record, winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic by three lengths. Ghost Zapper later went on to become Horse of the Year.
Lone Star Park track handicapper picked all nine winners on the nine-race program.
Country music icon Willie Nelson performed after the races for a crowd of 23,091. It was the first of three consecutive years that he performed at the track.
A thoroughbred appropriately named Purse Stealer posted a 115-to-1 upset in the final race of the day. A $2 win ticket was worth a track record $231.40. The race also triggered a Lone Star Park record $2 exacta payout of $6,900 and a record $1 trifecta payout of $58,544.
A crowd of 33,805 attended Lone Star Park for live racing and post-race holiday fireworks. It was the largest crowd to attend the racetrack outside of the 53,717 who attended the 2004 Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Champion and National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone retired after winning three-of-four races here April 18. She came out of retirement three years later. On that same day, 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet was upset by Littlebitlively in the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile.
AQHA Champion Kool Kue Baby won her record 23rd career stakes race with a dominating one-length victory over Casino Bully in the $25,000 Refrigerator Handicap. Kool Kue Baby, trained by KC Carden, weighed just 950 pounds and was acquired by owner Ramiro Lopez for two pigs, two calves and a dog.
At precisely 5:03 p.m., Texas-bred I Are Sharp, at odds of 49-to-1, won the first live race in Lone Star Park history, the $50,000 Premiere Stakes. The crowd was limited to 21,754, and on-track handle was more than $1.9 million. Later that season, the inaugural National All-Star Jockey Championship was held. It was won by National Museum of Racing Hall of Famer Gary Stevens. The unique four-race competition attracted some of the sport’s most elite riders each year. The All-Star Jockey Championship was held at the track annually through 2004.