04/11/2008 12:00AM

Sandburr, 9, rings up special victory


Sandburr, a 9-year-old Sandpit gelding, kicked off the Lone Star meeting Thursday evening by winning the $50,000 Premiere Stakes, becoming the oldest winner of a black-type stakes race this year.

Jockey Cliff Berry, who won four races on the opening-night card, placed the winner just off the pace in second early, a length off of Lil Jett, who set fractions of 47.67 seconds and 1:13.03 in the mile race for Texas-breds.

Sandburr then made his move to overtake the leader, and was joined by the late-running Dreamsandvisions. They battled through the stretch, with Sandburr prevailing by a half-length. Crook's Stinger finished another length back in third.

"He's unbelievable," trainer Mike Stidham said of winner. "I thought he was beat turning for home, that Dreamsandvisions would go by him, but he dug in."

Sandburr ran the mile in 1:39.07 over a fast track that played slowly, paying $5.40 as the favorite in the field of 10 Texas-breds. In winning his second straight Premiere, he earned $30,000, improving his bankroll for his current connections to $333,740 since being claimed by the Feel the Thunder Stable for $20,000 in April 2006.

The long-term goal for Sandburr is the $100,000 Assault Stakes for Texas-breds going 1 1/16 miles at Lone Star July 12, Stidham said.

Asmussen is ubiquitous

Trainer Steve Asmussen seemed to be everywhere Thursday, with thousands of bobbleheads of the trainer given away as a promotion, and with Asmussen himself winning four of the five races in which he had horses.

He said his family, which resides in nearby Arlington, enjoyed the evening.

"We got to visit the winner's circle, so everybody was happy," he said.

Durant, Bruner, Shepherd go 3 for 3

Owner Tom Durant, trainer Jack Bruner, and jockey Justin Shepherd also fared well, going 3 for 3 together. Silver I. D. got things started for them by winning race 4; Speed Street following with a first-out victory in race 6; and No Other Tone triumphed in the eighth race.

Durant bred the latter two winners, and raced both the sires and the dams.

"I'd tried buying horses and ran them around the country with some success," he said Friday. "But horse racing in Texas has really gone downhill. So I thought I'd try to prove my own stallions. I already had some retired, and thought I'd try the homegrown process."

City Street and Touch Tone, the sires of Speed Street and No Other Tone, were quick. City Street won 2 of 3 starts, including the Three Chimneys Juvenile in a dead heat in 2001, and Touch Tone won the Alysheba Stakes at Lone Star in 2001 and ran second to Point Given in the Grade 1 Haskell that year.

Attendance, handle down for opener

Attendance was 8,365 for the opening-night card, down from 9,309 last year. Ontrack handle dropped 26 percent and total handle nearly 17 percent, in part because two scheduled turf races were moved to the main track following mid-week rain, resulting in numerous scratches.

A blackout of account wagering sites, caused when Lone Star Park and its horsemen were unable to reach an agreement on account revenue splits, may have also contributed to the drop.

The track's new wager, a $1 pick five with a 12 percent takeout, handled $5,191 - less than the late daily double ($7,424) and late pick four ($7,892). With four of the five winners starting at odds of 5-2 or less, the wager returned $855.20.

* Parker Run and Sumfun, an uncoupled pair of Bret Calhoun-trained runners, head the field in Sunday's eighth race, a $34,000 allowance at five furlongs on turf.