08/16/2004 11:00PM

Lone Star in preparation mode


All the details are coming together. Lone Star Park near Dallas has begun installing 38,000 temporary seats for this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. The track has also released the condition book for the fall meet, continues to manicure its dirt and turf courses, and is generally bracing itself for the expected Breeders' Cup crowd of 50,000 on Oct. 30.

"My life seems like a blur right now, dealing with literally hundreds of details every day," said Corey Johnsen, president of Lone Star. "We want to make sure everything is done right, and we have an outstanding Breeders' Cup."

With permanent improvements such as an 8,000-square-foot hall, new barns, and an expanded paddock already in place, Johnsen said the focus is now on temporary ones.

"As far as seating, we're very fortunate that we virtually have a sell- out," he said. "That part of the success equation is guaranteed."

Johnsen said work on the installation of temporary seats will continue through Oct. 15, although the bulk of them will be in place by Oct. 1.

That is the date Lone Star opens for its 19-day fall Thoroughbred meet, which will run through Oct. 31. Johnsen said purses will average about $200,000 a day - excluding the Breeders' Cup stakes - which is the same level as the spring season. First post for the Breeders' Cup card will be 11:30 a.m. Central. In addition to the eight Breeders' Cup races, which are worth a combined $14 million, the program will include four $100,000 stakes.

Lone Star will race nights on only Thursdays and Fridays during the four-day-a-week meet, except the week of the Breeders' Cup, when first post will be 1:35 p.m. Central. The International All-Star Jockey Championship will be held Thursday, Oct. 28, while the Grade 3, $250,000 Walmac Lone Star Derby and $150,000 Refrigerator Handicap for Quarter Horses will be run on Friday, Oct. 29.

Stall applications are due Sept. 1, with the stable area set to open on Sept. 20.

Lone Star is currently operating as a training center, and there are close to 500 horses on the grounds. Before the fall meet opens, plans call for adding a mixture of material "to bring the track to its optimal level," Johnsen said.

"We've found when we had Quarter Horse racing in the fall in the past, October was one of the best months for our main track as far as providing a safe and consistent surface with some real bounce to it," said Johnsen. "We're looking forward to the same thing happening this fall as well."

The turf is also getting attention.

"We are treating the turf course like a golf course would treat it's turf prior to the U.S. Open," said Johnsen. "We are placing a great deal of emphasis on making sure our course is in perfect shape. It's in its growth spurt now."

In all, Lone Star will have made about $8 million in improvements to its facility for the Breeders' Cup.

"I think the enthusiasm of our fans and good old Texas hospitality will stamp this Breeders' Cup," said Johnsen.