07/01/2013 2:57PM

Lone Star Park: Milligan focusing on title chase


It appears Allen Milligan has opened up on the field in Lone Star Park trainers race with a six-win advantage heading into the final week of the meet Wednesday night. But the 46-year-old horseman is taking nothing for granted. Milligan has 11 horses entered in eight races Wednesday in a move that could help him pad his lead as he seeks to nail down his first Texas title.

“I’m not going to settle until it’s over and out of their reach,” Milligan said of closest pursuers Justin Evans, Karl Broberg, and Steve Asmussen.

Milligan earned his first career training title at Oaklawn Park in 2009, but in subsequent years lost titles there in painfully tight battles. He was edged by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas in 2011, then a year later had the lead into the final card of the meet but was overtaken when Asmussen won five races on the program.

“That blue truck will run over you,” Milligan said of the blue stable colors of Asmussen.

On Wednesday night at Lone Star, which has a special twilight post of 5 p.m. Central to accommodate fireworks after the races, Milligan will have starters in the first seven races on the card, as well as in the ninth. Milligan’s meet has been the best he has had in his 13 years of basing at the Grand Prairie, Texas, track. He has won 43 races from 178 starters through Tuesday, for stable earnings of $431,679.

Milligan also has developed such 2-year-old talents as Time Iz Flyin’, a 12-length debut winner set to run Saturday at Lone Star in the $100,000 colts and geldings division of the Texas Thoroughbred Sales Futurity, and Color of Truth, a maiden special weight winner likely to pursue Oklahoma-bred stakes action at Remington Park. The trainer also is excited about the prospects of Kip, an unraced 2-year-old by Kipling.

Milligan said other highlights of the meet have included two wins from Midland Man, a 7-year-old who races for Ronald Ellerbee, the trainer’s first client when he went out on his own in 1999. Unbridled Eltempo, an 8-year-old who races for Lone Star leading owner Danny Keene, also has won twice at the meet. He was the last horse trained by Milligan’s father, Eddie, who died in 2010. Milligan, a native of Celina, Texas, began his racing career working for his father, a longtime trainer who in 1967 launched a stable at Oaklawn. Milligan also spent three years serving as an assistant to trainer Frankie Brothers, with the barn’s babies at the time including eventual Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Hansel.

Following the Lone Star meet, Milligan plans to have a division of horses at Remington. He also will move more horses into his current division at Louisiana Downs, and in the fall hopes to have 35 to 40 head at Retama Park, returning to the track with a stable for the first time in 10 years. But before those plans are put in motion, Milligan is zeroing in on wrapping up his first title in Texas.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “I’m a Texas boy, born and raised here. My dad and stepmother, Sherry, were very involved in getting racing in Texas. I’ve got a lot of ties to Texas.”

◗ Skip a Smile, a winner of two stakes in his last three starts, is being pointed to the $50,000 Assault at Lone Star on Saturday, trainer Steve Asmussen said. The Assault, a mile race for 3-year-olds and up bred in Texas, anchors a card of four restricted stakes on the annual Stars of Texas Day. The program closes out the meet at Lone Star.