04/15/2011 2:45PM

Lydia's Last Step wins opening-night Premiere

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Even in a stagnant racing climate in Texas, fans came out in force for Thursday night’s opener at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, with 8,624 in attendance, the track’s largest opening-night crowd since 2007.

It was very much a blue-collar night of racing, with modest fields of reasonably hard-knocking horses, which was immediately punctuated in the meet’s kickoff race, the $50,000 Premiere Stakes for Texas-breds, when front-running Lydia’s Last Step – a horse claimed for $25,000 Feb. 26 – registered a slight upset over favored Coyote Legend.

“He shot out of the gate,” said winning jockey Bryan McNeil. “He was pulling at me the whole way and when I let him go at the top of the stretch he was game to the finish.”

Over a fast track that played slowly throughout the evening, Lydia’s Last Step raced a mile in 1:39.95, after carving out modest fractions of 47.78 seconds and 1:12.27. A 4-year-old son of Spanish Steps owned by Richard Penn and trained by J.R. Caldwell, he paid $5.40.

He was one of just two winning horses on the 10-race card that paid less than $6. Mid-priced horses and longshots won most races.

Defending Premiere champion Coyote Legend, with Kentucky-based Jamie Theriot in for the mount, broke through the gate prior to the start and after being reloaded, lacked his usual sharpness, though he still managed to just pass Mile Marker in the closing strides to grab the place, three lengths behind the winner.

Jockeys Jose Medina and Lyndie Wade each won a pair of races to get off to a quick start at the 52-day race Thoroughbred meet that continues until July 10.

Feature race wide-open

A $24,000 first-level allowance for Texas-breds at seven furlongs, which goes as the sixth, is the only allowance on Sunday’s nine-race card at Lone Star Park.

The eight-horse race appears a scramble, with two entrants unraced this year, and another three out of action since February. Also, all but two entrants, comebackers Lonely Street and Alli’s Legend, have at one time raced for a claiming price.

Two runners that ran last month may possess a fitness advantage: Grandpa N Savannah, who won a $7,500 nonwinners-of-three claiming race at Will Rogers March 15, and Dr. Graustark, third in a $10,000 nonwinners-of-three claimer at Delta Downs March 26.