Updated on 09/18/2011 1:13AM

Refrigerator the highlight as Lone Star opens


Country Chicks Man heads the Grade 1, $100,000 Refrigerator Handicap on Saturday night, which highlights the opening weekend of the 32-date fall Quarter Horse meet that begins on Friday night at Lone Star Park.

The season runs on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule until Dec. 2. There will be no racing on Nov. 22, which is the night before Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving night.

The Grade 3, $30,000 B.F. Phillips Jr. Handicap for Texas-breds on opening night is led by Sarahs Fast Man. Last year, he won the 6666 Ranch Handicap at Lone Star.

Country Chicks Man starts his fall campaign in the Refrigerator. This spring at Remington Park, he won three straight stakes before finishing second in the Remington Park Championship. Last fall at Lone Star he won the Burnett Handicap and was a close third in the Refrigerator.

The 440-yard Refrigerator Handicap, which rewards the winner with a Champion of Champions invitation, was previously held on closing weekend of the fall season. It was moved to opening weekend because "it's a good way to start the meet with a strong race," said racing secretary Mike Shamburg.

The average daily purse distribution, including overnight races and added money for stakes, is $75,000, according to Shamburg. That increases to $90,000 when horsemen's payments to futurities and derbies are included.

The MBNA America Challenge Championships return to Lone Star Park on Nov. 11. There will be five Grade 1 stakes on the stakes-filled 12-race program, headed by the $300,000 MBNA America Challenge Championship.

There will be 17 graded stakes - 11 of them Grade 1 - during the meet.

Closing weekend will feature the Grade 1, $1omillion Texas Classic Futurity and the Grade 1, $400,000 Texas Classic Derby. The Grade 1, $400,000 Dash for Cash Futurity and the Grade 1, $150,000 Dash for Cash Derby will be held on Oct. 28. All of those races' purse figures are estimated.

Rematch in PCQHRA Futurity

The Jaime Gomez-trained pair of Tac It Like a Man and Checknbac, who finished in a dead heat in the Grade 1, $404,000 Governor's Cup Futurity, bring the two fastest qualifying times into the Grade 1, $450,000 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity at Los Alamitos on Saturday night.

The evenly matched juveniles nearly raced to identical qualifying times, with Tac It Like a Man posting the fastest time of 17.455 seconds for 350 yards and Checknbac going in 17.465.

"He went right in at the gap," Gomez said of Tac It Like a Man's three-quarter-length trial win. "But he's such a powerful horse that he was able to overcome it with a fast time."

The trial win was the colt's third straight victory following a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million.

The diminutive Checknbac has raced to five straight wins since finishing second in her career debut. She rallied to win her trial by three-quarters of a length.

"It looked like she slipped a little bit at the start, but she was flying at the end," said Gomez.

Casique Corona steps up in derby

Fastest qualifier Casique Corona steps up in class looking for his first graded stakes win in the Grade 2, $159,000 PCQHRA Breeders Derby on Friday night at Los Alamitos.

Casique Corona won his 400-yard trial in 19.660 seconds. In his previous four starts, he won the Ocean Runaway Overnight Handicap and placed by close margins in two minor stakes.

He Storms, fifth in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Million, returned from a seven-month layoff to finish second to Casique Corona in their trial with the second-fastest time of 19.735 seconds.

Bullions N Garters goes to Zia

Bullions N Garters, who has finished on the board in each of her 26 starts, heads a full field of distaffers in the $60,000 Lubbock Stakes at 400 yards on Saturday afternoon at Zia Park.

Bullions N Garters shipped to Zia Park from Prairie Meadows after winning the Grade 3 Keokuk Stakes and finishing second by a nose in the Grade 3 Two Rivers Stakes.

Bottle of Shine heads sale futurity

Bottle of Shine, runner-up in the Lee Berwick Louisiana-bred Futurity, comes into the $305,077 LQHBA Sale Futurity at Evangeline Downs on Saturday night as the fastest qualifier after a dominating trial win.

Bottle of Shine won his trial by 2 1/4 lengths in 18.148 seconds for 350 yards, the fastest time from 13 trials. His only defeat in five starts came in the Berwick Futurity, when he bobbled at the start and finished second as the 8-5 favorite.