04/01/2003 12:00AM

Spotlight on opening Day


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - For the second consecutive year, fans attending Lone Star's opening day program will be in the presence of greatness - in the saddle that is.

Last year Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey thrilled the opening day crowd, winning two races, including the featured Premiere Stakes. This year, the spotlight will be on another Hall of Fame jockey, Pat Day, who rides Agrivating General in the Premiere, the traditional first race of the Lone Star meet.

After taking a slight dip last year, daily average purse distribution is back to $240,000 per day for the 70-day meet that runs through July 13.

Four Grade 3 races highlight the stakes schedule, including the $300,000 Texas Mile April 26 and the $500,000 Lone Star Derby May 10. Other meet highlights include Lone Star Million Day on Memorial Day, May 26, and the NTRA All-Star Jockey Challenge June 20.

The $50,000 Premiere Stakes, a one-mile race for older Texas-breds, marks the return of Agrivating General, a 4-year-old gelding making just his eighth start. If history is any indication, Agrivating General should be competitive. He has never finished worse than second.

Plagued by sore shins early in his career, the naturally aggressive Agrivating General has forced trainer Danny Pish to give him additional time between races.

"At Houston he was making life hard on himself. We have to make sure not to abuse his gameness," Pish said.

Agrivating General had success at Sam Houston, winning the Magnolia Stakes and placing in three other stakes races. The most recent was a second-place finish behind Term Sheet in the Jersey Village Stakes.

"I think we're just as good, we just got beat that evening," Pish said.

Pish especially likes the fact Day will ride Agrivating General in the rematch with Term Sheet Thursday.

"I'm not going to give Pat instructions," Pish said. "I'm going to let him ride however he so chooses. I'll be curious to hear his evaluation of the horse after the race."

Term Sheet, trained by Steve Asmussen, is the probable favorite. Term Sheet stretched out to two turns for the first time in the Jersey Village and beat Agrivating General by 1 1/2 lengths. The Jersey Village was Term Sheet's second straight stakes win.

Post time is 6:35 p.m. Central.