09/12/2012 2:24PM

Lone Star Quarter Horse meet begins

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Ochoa’s first start since becoming Quarter Horse racing’s all-time earnings leader is scheduled to compete during the Lone Star Park meet that opens on Friday night. Trainer Sleepy Gilbreath said the horse is being pointed toward the Oct. 19 trials for the Grade  1, $400,000 Texas Classic Derby, a 440-yard race that closes out the meet Nov. 10.

Lone Star will run 26 dates for Quarter Horses, none of them bigger than the Nov. 10 card. In addition to the Texas Classic Derby that could feature Ochoa, the program will also include the Grade 1, $1 million Texas Classic Futurity. The 400-yard sprint is the richest race in Texas.

Ochoa became Quarter Horse racing’s richest runner on Sept. 2, when he won the Grade  1, $2,234,539 All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs. The win helped lift his earnings to more than $2.5 million, surpassing the record of $2.2 million that had been held by Stolis Winner. Earlier in his career, Ochoa won the $2.4 million All American Futurity and was later voted 2-year-old champion of 2011.

“He’s a great horse,” said Gilbreath. “In fact, he’s so great I hadn’t been able to mess him up. They don’t come along like him every day. He’s exceptional. He deserves everything he’s done.”

Gilbreath, who trained previous all-time earnings leader Refrigerator for the horse’s races in New Mexico and Oklahoma, said Ochoa is being freshened at an area farm. The decision to target the Texas Classic Derby trials was the right fit for a couple of different reasons, said Gilbreath, who trains the horse for Johnny T.L. Jones Jr. and his wife Brenda, Katsy and Monte Cluck, and Douglas and Shavon Benson.

“It’s kind of home for us, and you have to pay into the Texas Classic way back,” said Gilbreath. “We just decided to keep him home for that. We’d kind of like to run him at home.”

Lone Star will have a 6:35 p.m. Central first post and will conduct racing every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. During the course of the season, the track is expected to debut a new Daktronics infield video board that replaces the JumboTron that has been in place since the track opened in 1997. The new board is 17 feet high and 60 feet wide.

Friday night’s card features six trial races for the Grade 2, $150,000-estimated Dash for Cash Derby. The finale is Sept. 29. On Saturday night, Lone Star has carded 14 trials for the Grade 1, $500,000-estimated Dash for Cash Futurity, which will also be run Sept. 29.

Other highlights of the season include the Grade 1, $75,000 Refrigerator Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 440 yards on Oct. 6.

Bart Lang, the director of racing for Lone Star, will serve as the racing secretary during the track’s Quarter Horse meet.