10/14/2004 11:00PM

Lone Star set for big day


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - It's crunch time at Lone Star Park, where the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships will be held on Oct. 30. Pre-entries for the championship races will be taken on Monday, the same day the first shipment of Breeders' Cup horses is due to arrive in Texas.

And just as the fields for the races are starting to come together, the massive project of installing 39,000 temporary seats at the track is coming to an end.

All of this is being accomplished a year earlier than Lone Star was originally slated to host the Breeders' Cup. The track was placed on the rotation schedule for 2005, but because of an expansion project at Churchill Downs, the scheduled 2004 site, Lone Star, which will be the youngest of the nine tracks ever to host the Breeders' Cup, got the call to step up to the plate for 2004.

To date, things have gone off without a hitch.

"Fortunately we were ahead of the game on some projects when we got the chance to move up to 2004," said Corey Johnsen, president of Lone Star. "We were confident we could handle it."

A crowd of more than 50,000 is expected for the Breeders' Cup, eclipsing Lone Star's biggest-ever crowd of 33,805 on July 3, 2000. There will be 5,000 employees, volunteers, and vendors working at Lone Star on Breeders' Cup Day. Of that amount, 1,000 will be mutuel clerks, up from the 200 the track normally employs for big days. In addition, 300 self-service wagering machines will be set up.

Parking for 20,000 cars will be available, with 15,000 on or adjacent to the track grounds, and another 5,000 a few miles up the road at Ameriquest Field, the home of the Texas Rangers. There will be 70 shuttles bringing people to the track, said Darren Rogers, spokesman for Lone Star, and as of Thursday night 913 media members have been credentialed for the event.

There will be tents near the temporary seating, providing mutuel windows and concessions. There also will be more large video screens in the infield than originally planned. Including the track's permanent jumbotron, there will be seven strategically placed big screens, Rogers said.

The Breeders' Cup organization is in the process of setting up offices in the sales pavilion on the Lone Star backstretch, while the first flight of horses will arrive Monday. The plane will have a shipment from the stable of trainer Patrick Biancone, who in the last month has toured Lone Star.

"They'll fly in from Kentucky," he said. "For the Breeders' Cup we'll have two, and three or more for other races."

Biancone's horses for the Breeders' Cup are Sense of Style in the Juvenile Fillies and Magistretti in the Turf. Other races to be held Breeders' Cup week include the Grade 3, $250,000 Lone Star Park Derby on Oct. 29, and four $100,000 undercard stakes on Breeders' Cup Day.

Another shipment of horses will arrive on Tuesday, and among those expected to be aboard the flight are Breeders' Cup runners Roses in May (Classic) and Kitten's Joy (Turf), as well as Wonder Again (Filly and Mare Turf) and Indy Groove (Distaff).

Horses from Europe are slated to arrive on one flight, on Oct. 25. They will be quarantined for 48 hours upon their arrival, and during their stay will be based in a barn near the sales pavilion at the front of the stable area at Lone Star.

Lone Star will begin a daily morning workout program on Thursday, which will give the public the opportunity to watch the training of the horses who will run in the Breeders' Cup. Some of the horses will be familiar. There are a handful of Breeders' Cup probables or possibles that have previously raced at Lone Star, among them Kela, Star Over the Bay, Dynever, Supah Blitz, Katdogawn, Gold Storm, Bwana Charlie, Beau's Town, and Enduring Will.

Pre-entries for the Breeders' Cup will be ranked by a committee on Tuesday and announced on Wednesday.