06/13/2012 3:07PM

Lone Star: Durant intends to shift summer focus to Del Mar


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – In a significant circuit change, Tom Durant, the all-time leading owner at Lone Star Park, plans to race this summer at Del Mar, the Southern California track that opens July 18.

Durant and his private trainer, Jack Bruner, have submitted for stalls at Del Mar. The men have 40 horses in training at Lone Star, where Durant ranked second in the owner standings through Wednesday. Dating back to 1998, he has won eight Thoroughbred owner titles at Lone Star.

“We’re going to try Del Mar,” Durant said Wednesday. “We talked about it last year and didn’t do it. Now, we’re going to go. We’re really going to try to step it up.”

Bruner said based on what the stable’s stall allotment might be, he would be looking at bringing a mix of 2-year-olds and older horses to Del Mar. Durant has been upgrading his stock, and his current crop of 2-year-olds features young prospects by such notable stallions as Indian Charlie, Bellamy Road, Brother Derek, and Half Ours.

“About three years ago [Durant] started buying mares and foals, and each year he progressively bought a few more,” said Bruner. “He also bought horses at in-training and yearling sales.”

Durant said the idea of applying for stalls at Del Mar came from Bruner, the 47-year-old horseman who has been a longtime fixture in the Southwest.

”I felt like it was a good move,” Bruner said. “[Durant] could run a lot of 2-year-olds there, it appears like. They offer several levels for 2-year-olds, from maiden special weight to all the way down. It appears you can run your 2-year-olds about where you need to run them.”

Bruner said Del Mar was also “real attractive” because of its “Ship and Win” program designed to lure horses from out of state. The track has a bonus system in place that pays out $1,000 to each horse racing at Del Mar for the first time after making his previous start outside of California. The horse is also eligible to have 25 percent added to whatever purse money he wins in his initial start at Del Mar. (The purse bonus excludes stakes races.)

Durant and Bruner will see a good deal of stakes action Saturday at Lone Star, with Im a Bear and Perfect Meadow, the one-two finishers in last month’s $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, running back in the $50,000 Lane’s End Stallion Scholarship Stakes, and Bear Bottom starting in the $100,000 fillies division of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity. Other notable runners for the stable this meet include Drunk Dial, a starter allowance horse who won his fourth straight race last Saturday, a streak that began at Oaklawn Park.

The Del Mar meet opens 10 days after the close of Lone Star, and continues through Sept. 5.

“We’re just trying to expand our horizons a little bit,” Bruner said of targeting Del Mar.

Cody Autrey, another trainer based at Lone Star, also plans to race this summer at Del Mar.

Stakes triple, TTA awards banquet

Lone Star will be the site of three stakes races on Saturday, as well as the Texas Thoroughbred Association’s annual meeting and awards luncheon. Chris Lincoln will emcee the banquet, which will honor the Texas breeding industry’s top horses and people of 2011, including reigning Texas-bred of the year, Skip a Smile.

On the track, there will be two divisions of the $100,000 Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity. The colts and geldings side drew 11 runners when entries were taken on Wednesday. It goes as the sixth race Saturday.

The fillies division also drew 11 runners, and it will be the eighth race. In between the futurities will be the inaugural running of the $50,000 Lane’s End Stallion Scholarship Stakes. It is a seven and a half furlong turf race for fillies and mares bred in Texas, and it drew 12.

The Lane’s End Stallion Scholarship Stakes was created to draw attention to the Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund that provides scholarship assistance to the children of qualified members of the Texas Thoroughbred Association. It was established in 2005, and earlier this year Will S. Farish, the owner of Lane’s End Farm and a past president of the TTA, pledged $150,000 to the fund over the next three years. Farish has divisions of his operation in Kentucky and Texas.