04/05/2002 12:00AM

Bailey and Cascio team up to win Lone Star opener


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Lone Star Park opened Thursday night to a large crowd, and a winning performance from the star of the evening, jockey Jerry Bailey.

Bailey, a Dallas native who grew up in El Paso, enjoyed a warm reception from the crowd of 14,123. Fans lined up to have his autograph soon after the gates opened, and later cheered him after he rode two winners from four mounts.

He won the $50,000 Premiere Stakes aboard Lights on Broadway in the meet's first race, and later won a $30,000 claiming race with Kris's Sleigh.

Lights on Broadway, favored at 3-5, gave the public some anxious moments but found a little extra to hold off Captain Countdown by a half-length. He paid $3.40 and completed a mile in 1:38.25.

The Premiere proved rewarding for Bailey, who finally got the opportunity to a ride for Bubba Cascio, a trainer he idolized when he was an apprentice at Sunland Park in 1974. "It took me 28 years, but I finally got together with him," Bailey said.

Two jockeys, Deirdre Panas and Rita Helton, escaped without more than scrapes and bruises in two separate spills. Panas fell when her mount, That's Out Shuttle, ducked in at the start of the fourth race. Helton was unseated in the sixth when Hawaiian Proper broke down.

Attendance was up 3 percent from last year and both ontrack handle ($1.5 million) and all-sources handle ($3.1 million) rose 8 percent from a year ago.