06/17/2011 3:28PM

Lone Star: Father, sons enjoy competition, time together at track

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Reed Palmer Photography
From left, Bryan, Tony, and Erik McNeil each rodes a winner on the May 28 card at Lone Star Park.

Jockey Tony McNeil will not be working this Father’s Day, but he will still be at Lone Star Park on Sunday to watch his sons, Bryan and Erik McNeil, ride against each other in the first three races on the card.

The McNeils are all based at Lone Star, where on May 28 they accomplished a rare feat. Each won a race on the card in what was a first for the family of riders. Their run began in the opener, when Bryan McNeil, 27, took the first race with Donegal Gold ($16.20). Tony McNeil, 54, then won the fourth race, with Jonesicula ($7). Erik McNeil, 24, completed the “family sweep” when he won the eighth race with Holy Saint ($3).

“We put the pressure on Erik,” Tony joked.

Erik responded as Holy Saint won by close to three lengths.

“I was so far in front that I heard the announcer say, ‘Bryan, Erik, and Tony all won on the card,’ ” Erik said. “It was cool.”

Tony McNeil’s comeback from an extended layoff, coupled with the decision of both Bryan and Erik to ride, has led to the unique father-son dynamic being seen this meet at Lone Star.

“It’s been a blast getting to ride with dad after he’d been off for nine years,” Bryan said. “I was hoping one day it would happen that we all would win a race on the card the same day.”

Jockey Dale Cordova, whose father, Tony, and two brothers, Bobby and Tony Jr., also were jockeys, could not recall if they had all won a race on the same card at some point.

“I do remember we all rode in the same race,” Dale Cordova said. “That was at San Juan Downs, at Farmington, N.M.

“We’re like the McNeils. We’re all very, very close. My dad, you couldn’t even imagine how proud he was when we were riding with him. It was a dream for him.”

Another riding family consists of jockey Brian Hernandez and his sons, Brian Jr. and Colby, with Brian Jr. riding in Kentucky and Brian and Colby based at Evangeline Downs.

The Lone Star meet is the one time of year that the McNeils are all based at the same track. Bryan and Erik McNeil will head to Remington after the Lone Star season closes July 10, while Tony will be riding at Del Mar. For now, they are enjoying their time together.

Dale Cordova said riding against family can be even more competitive than other rivals, in a good way.

“This is bragging rights,” he said. “Of course, you’re not going to be dangerous. But if dad comes out on top, he’s not going to let his sons forget it. And if the sons come out on top, they won’t let dad forget it.”

Bryan leads all McNeils in the current standings at Lone Star, where he is fifth with 28 wins at the meet. Erik ranks eighth, with 11 wins, and Tony has won nine races to rank 10th in the standings at Lone Star.

“I was supposed to retire a couple of years ago,” Tony said. “[My wife] Cheryl keeps saying, ‘Well, the boys are beating you. Now it’s time to retire.’ But I said, ‘Well, now I’ve got to get revenge.’ ”

The competitiveness has led to afternoons like May 28.

Remington seeks similar dates

Remington Park has asked the Oklahoma Racing Commission for a 67-date Thoroughbred meet for 2012, opening Aug. 16 and running through Dec. 8. The track’s request was part of the agenda for a commission meeting held Thursday.

Dates for the state’s tracks will more than likely be awarded at the October meeting, said Tino Rieger, executive director of the commission.

Remington also has asked for a 50-date Quarter Horse meet from March 2-May 28.

Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa has asked for a 32-date Thoroughbred meet for 2012, from March 5-May 19. In addition, the track is seeking a 28-date Quarter Horse meet next year, from Sept. 6-Nov. 14. Will Rogers also is seeking a non-parimutuel card for trials on Aug. 25.

Fair Meadows in Tulsa has asked for 34 days of mixed racing for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses for 2012, from June 14-Aug. 4.

Lone Star to stay open for training

Lone Star will remain open for training following the close of the Thoroughbred meet next month, said Bart Lang, the track’s director of racing. Lone Star is scheduled to operate as a training center from July 16 through Nov. 12.

The cost is $6 per day per stall, or $20 for horses shipping in to work or gallop. The track will be open from Monday through Saturday, with published works Wednesday through Saturday. Interested parties should make stall reservations through the racing office.

Horses stabled at Lone Star will benefit its new sister track, Remington Park, which opens its Thoroughbred meet Aug. 18. Stall applications for Remington, which is located about 3 1/2 hours north of Lone Star, are due Monday. Both tracks are now owned by Global Gaming.

Stephens new president of TTA

Dr. David Stephens, who is a partners in Weems & Stephens Equine Hospital in Aubrey, Texas, was elected president of the Texas Thoroughbred Association during a board meeting June 10. He succeeds Dr. Jacquelyn Rich, who served a record four consecutive one-year terms.

The other newly elected officers are Ken Carson, general manager of Valor Farm, first vice president; Joe Allen, who bred and raced Peppers Pride, second vice president; Dr. Gearald Farris, a longtime breeder and owner, secretary-treasurer.

◗ The Arkansas Racing Commission will conduct a public hearing Monday considering a handful of rule changes relative to racing at Oaklawn Park, one of which is “designed to allow more persons to participate in claiming.” The hearing begins at 11 a.m., in the 1515 Building on West Seventh Street, in Little Rock, Ark.