09/23/2009 12:00AM

Business as usual despite upcoming sale


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Lone Star Park is scheduled to be auctioned during the course of its Quarter Horse meet that opens Friday night, but it will be business as usual during the season that runs through Nov. 28.

Magna Entertainment, which owns the track, will continue to operate Lone Star through the final closing of any sale. The auction is expected to be held in mid-October in New York, with the sale also subject to approvals by the Texas Racing Commission.

In the meantime, Lone Star will focus on the meet at hand. The track has drawn a host of top stables for its 28-night season, including Paul Jones, the nation's leading Quarter Horse trainer the past seven years. He will have a small string at Lone Star for the first time.

Jones will be joined in the stable area by such horsemen as Heath Taylor, who trains reigning world champion Stolis Winner; Trey Wood, the son of top Quarter Horse trainer Blane Wood; John Buchanan, Sleepy Gilbreath, Brad Bolen, and Toby Keeton.

"I think we have some really fine trainers for the meet," said Jeanette Hughes, the racing secretary at Lone Star.

Hughes said the 26-race stakes schedule is worth more than $2.6 million. She said purses are projected at $115,000 a day. The richest race of the meet is the $1 million Texas Classic Futurity on Nov. 28. Other top races include the Grade 1, $500,000 Dash for Cash Futurity on Oct. 24.

The first major stakes of the meet, the Grade 1, $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap, will be run Oct. 3. A 440-yard race for 3-year-olds and up, it could draw the Jones-trained Noconi, who last year won the Grade 1 All American Derby. The winner of the Refrigerator gets a berth into the Grade 1, $750,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Dec. 12.

Lone Star will race on a Thursday through Saturday night basis for most of the meet. There will be no racing on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26. First post nightly is 6:35 p.m. Central.