04/04/2003 1:00AM

Day delivers goods in Premiere

Email

RAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Lone Star Park opened Thursday night, and Pat Day won the first race of the meet.

Agrivating General, ridden by Day - who was on hand to sign autographs and ride in several races - survived a prolonged stretch duel with longshot Crook to register a head victory in the $50,000 Premiere Stakes, the track's traditional opener. Day later won with one of his two remaining mounts, One Eyed Joker, in the ninth race.

Agrivating General, a 4-year-old Texas-bred son of Vermont, was making his first start since a runner-up finish behind Term Sheet in the Jersey Village Stakes at Sam Houston in February. Term Sheet, the 8-5 favorite in the Premiere, finished fourth.

Agrivating General ($5.80) has finished first or second in all eight of his starts. He is owned and bred by Lonnie Bates and trained by Danny Pish. The win in the Premiere, Agrivating General's second in a stakes, pushed his career earnings to $107,000.

"He was pretty tired last night, but he looked good this morning," Pish said Friday. "I'll evaluate him over the next couple of days and see how he bounces back."

Pish said he would like to keep Agrivating General against statebreds, with "priority number one" being the $125,000 Assault Stakes on June 28.

Pish also wants to try Agrivating General on the grass this year. "He had a half-sister who was a real bear on the grass, beat the boys on more than one occasion," he said.

Crowd, handle way down

Attendance and handle for opening day was down sharply from last year's opener. The crowd of 11,342 was the lowest for an opening day in the track's seven-year history and down nearly 20 percent from a year ago.

Ontrack handle of $867,202 was also an all-time low for an opening day, off 18 percent from last year. Total handle of $2,776,810 was down 15 percent and was the second lowest opening-day handle in track history.

The lowest opening-day handle occurred during Lone Star's inaugural season in 1997. Only nine races were carded on opening day that year, however, compared with 10 races this year.

Part of the decline might be attributed to competition from other sports.

The NBA's Dallas Mavericks hosted the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, and a sellout crowd was on hand for the home opener of the Double-A Frisco Rough Riders baseball team north of Dallas.

Long-idle Mr. Miesque was ready

Bret Calhoun saddled Mr. Miesque to victory in the seventh race, a $40,000 claimer on turf. Mr. Miesque was running for only the second time in two years.

A stakes winner on grass at age 2, Mr. Miesque suffered a tendon injury following a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Palm Beach at Gulfstream on Feb. 19, 2001. Mr. Miesque returned to the races a year later at Fair Grounds, but reinjured the same tendon and was off another year. Calhoun acquired him from Keith Desormeaux last December.

"It's been a long, slow process bringing him back," said Jay Severs, an assistant to Calhoun, who was with the horse at Sam Houston over the winter.

"We really weren't expecting him to win. We thought he needed one, but class showed through."

Mr. Miesque came out of the race well and remains eligible for a three-other-than allowance.

Spreading the wealth

In addition to Day, jockeys Jeremy Beasley and Corey Lanerie each rode two winners on the opening program. A different trainer won each of the 10 races.

Four-time leading trainer Steve Asmussen went 1 for 10, saddling the night's most impressive winner, Eternal Cup, who won a maiden race by 9 1/4 lengths.

Peyvon appears primed

If fast works are indicative of future performance, the most intriguing mare in Sunday's featured two-other-than allowance, which has a $40,000 claiming option, is Peyvon. The Donnie Von Hemel-trained Peyvon has two bullets on her tab in preparation for her return from an eight-month layoff.

The $30,000 allowance for fillies and mares going five furlongs on turf attracted a field of nine.

Peyvon's last race was Aug. 3 in a minor stakes at Fair Meadows in Tulsa, Okla., which she won easily by four lengths. Peyvon has won or finished within two lengths of the winner in optional claiming and stakes races on turf.

Kevin Cogburn will ride Peyvon.

Crafty Loom and Open Promise both bring three-race winning streaks into Sunday's race. Crafty Loom's victories were all on the turf at Sam Houston, but against weaker company. Open Promise's last three wins have been on the main track, but she's a proven commodity on the turf as well and doesn't concede as much class as Crafty Loom.

Another contender is Beach Heat, a steady performer in turf sprints last year, whose worst lost came at the hands of future stakes winner Leslie's Love. Like Peyvon, Beach Heat is coming off of a significant layoff.