Updated on 09/15/2011 12:36PM

Unrullah Bull lukewarm choice in talent-laden stakes


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Unrullah Bull, a $25,000 claim who set a track record and won two allowance races over a handful of stakes winners this meet at Lone Star Park, could be a slight favorite in the $75,000 Bob Johnson Memorial on Sunday.

The one-mile race has drawn eight older horses, including local stakes winners Custer, Lights on Broadway, Captain Countdown, and T.B. Track Star, who won last year's Bob Johnson. "It's a wide open race," said Wes Hawley, who sends out allowance winner Five Straight. "I don't think there should be anybody less than 3-1."

Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Custer, agreed. "I think its very competitive. I'm going to guess Unrullah Bull will be the favorite off his allowance wins."

Unrullah Bull has won his last three starts. He set a track record for seven furlongs when he won a $25,000 claiming race in 1:21.21, then returned to win back-to-back allowance races for his new trainer, Cole Norman. "The way he's training and the way he's doing, I look for him to improve off his last race," said Norman.

T.B. Track Star also seems poised to run well. Trainer Chris Candies hopes the horse can turn the tables on Unrullah Bull, whom T.B. Track Star finished second to when they met June 3, a race in which T.B. Track Star was more focused on beating Snuck In. "This race will be run a little different," said Candies. "Put it this way, we are aware of Unrullah Bull's ability now."

Lone Star makes two major bids

Lone Star made two major bids Thursday: to host the World Thoroughbred Championships in 2004 or 2005, and to reopen the shuttered Maronas Racetrack in Uruguay in partnership with Hipica Rioplatense.

Lone Star chairman Bob Kaminski led a delegation of state, racing, and city officials who traveled to Kentucky to ask the Breeders' Cup executive committee to bring the series to Lone Star, a $100 million track near Dallas that opened in 1997.

"We presented a detailed plan on how we would stage the Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park should we be put in the rotation as a potential site," said Kaminski. "We feel it went very well, and hopefully we'll have some positive response sometime in the near future."

"I think we were all impressed," said D.G. Van Clief, president of Breeders' Cup.

Kaminski said points brought up during the Breeders' Cup presentation included new Texas legislation that allows up to $2 million of the state tax on handle to be set aside for costs associated with hosting a Breeders' Cup. The funds, to be matched by Grand Prairie should Lone Star land the Breeders' Cup, would go toward the $7 million in capital improvements planned for the track were it to host the WTC.

Kaminski also hopes to hear feedback soon on whether Lone Star and its partner will win a concession to operate Maronas Racetrack. Bids from parties interested in the shuttered track and its five off-track betting parlors were due Thursday.