By David Hooper, Texas Thoroughbred Association
AUSTIN, (TTA) – The equine “stars” on Lone Star Park’s annual Stars of Texas Day proved to be Coyote Legend, The Drifter, Platinum Song and Early M when the winner’s circle ceremonies for the four stakes for Texas-bred or Texas-sired runners had been concluded last Saturday afternoon.

Staunch Avenger: Charles W. Fletcher received a quick return on his reported $90,000 private purchase of The Drifter as the Louisiana-bred son of Seeking a Home sped 5½ furlongs in 1:03.78 under leading rider Cliff Berry to run away with the Staunch Avenger Division of the Texas Stallion Stakes for colts and geldings by 7 widening lengths. Gyrate rallied to take second from his stablemate Estrickator by one-half length. The Drifter earned $45,000 to easily remain undefeated after two starts while giving every impression of more stakes wins to come. The speedy winner was the last horse saddled by the late Gilbert Ciavaglia and is now trained by Cody Autrey.

Assault: Clarence Scharbauer’s Texas homebred Coyote Legend reasserted himself as the leader of the Texas male handicap division in the $50,000 Assault Stakes as he set steady fractions under Berry while shouldering top weight of 123 pounds. The Bret Calhoun-trained Coyote Legend repelled a strong bid from Safe Range in early stretch to draw clear by 1¼ lengths after completing one mile in 1:36.79 as the 1-2 favorite. The 5-year-old gelded son of Gold Legend, out of the Seeking the Gold mare Coyote Café, won his 14th race in 26 starts to boost his career earnings to $584,602. Cool Hand Val ran third to outlast Skip a Smile, the 2011 Texas Horse of the Year who was returning to the races after nearly a 6-month respite.

Pan Zareta: Scott Brown’s Texas-bred Platinum Song broke in the air spotting her six rival 2-year-old fillies at least two lengths, but benefited when 3-5 favorite Thibodaux and TTA Sales Futurity victor Falling Star hooked up in an early speed duel through :21.83 and :45.26 that sapped them both. Thibodaux was first to give way as Falling Star opened a daylight lead into the stretch that increased to two lengths by the eighth pole. In the meantime, Platinum Song launched a sustained rally while four and five wide and reached the stretch full of run that carried the My Golden Song filly alongside Falling Star and finally a neck in front at the wire. Her final time was 1:05.32 for the 5½ furlongs as she became the second stakes winner on this Stars of Texas Day to be bred by Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Thibodaux finished third. The Pan Zareta Division gave the Danny Pish-trained Platinum Song her first win in three starts after fifth and fourth-place finishes. Veteran jockey Glen Murphy rode the winner.

Valor Farm: Kathy Stephens and Frank Nieschwietz’ Early M broke last in an evenly matched field of 11 at 25-1 and Anjo Racing Inc.’s Dixie Dust started next to last at 29-1. But at the finish, Early M and Dixie Dust were first and second a neck apart with Early M, an Early Flyer 6-year-old mare, completing the 6 furlongs in 1:11.52. Youcannotbeserious, the 2.30-1 favorite, set the early pace, but tired to third. The field was so well matched that 10 of the 11 fillies and mares finished within 5¾ lengths. Early M’s long odds defied her recent record as she was winning her fourth consecutive start and for the fifth time in her last six outings. Claimed by her present owners out of her last start for $8,000, Early M is now a stakes winner. She was ridden by J. A. Medina and is trained by Ralph Arnold.

Danny Pish learned his horsemanship lessons well under the tutelage of legendary Texas trainer Tommy Oliphant and the knowledge and experience came together to earn the first Lone Star Park training title for the popular public conditioner. Pish finished the 53-day meet with 42 winners, one more than Bret Calhoun and three ahead of Karl Broberg with Steve Asmussen a distant fourth. Pish’s runners bankrolled $525,190, second only to Calhoun’s stable, which logged $697,618 in earnings.

Veteran jockey Cliff Berry earned his fifth Lone Star jockey crown with 62 wins from his 189 mounts to be 20 winners ahead of runner-up Lindey Wade. Berry’s mounts earned $832,627, more than $225,000 higher than Wade and Luis Quinonez, the meet’s third leading rider with 39 victories.

End Zone Athletics Inc. finished as the leading owner in wins for the first time with 17, succeeding Tom Durant, whose runners earned $200,180 to top the earnings list.

Lone Star’s 2012 Thoroughbred meet closed after last Sunday’s 9-race program with a 3.2% decline in attendance and a 7.5% drop in all-sources handle, a decline in field size from 8.9 starters per race in 2011 to 8.4 starters per race this year, plus a purse overpayment of over $900,000.

Denis Blake, the multi-talented editor of the award-winning Texas Thoroughbred prior to its being shelved, is planning to launch a new print magazine to be christened “Fast Furlongs” and cover breeding and racing news in the neighbor states of Oklahoma and Texas. Blake’s plans to publish six bi-monthly issues and an annual Stallion Register have been approved by directors of both the Texas Thoroughbred Association and the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma, which was formed after merger of the Oklahoma HBPA and the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association.

Blake will introduce a “Fast Furlongs” website in the next 10 days, and has targeted the first issue of the print publication for the fall.

TTA’s Publications Committee had spent several weeks discussing and reviewing Blake’s plans before the Board made a final decision during a conference call meeting this past Tuesday. Several TTA Board members expressed their support of the plans in part because every TTA member will again receive a copy of each bi-monthly issue of “Fast Furlongs,” whereas many members currently have no way to obtain the electronically distributed TTA Express because they have no Internet access.

Issues dealing with legal and illegal medication use in horse racing, and drug-testing capabilities have been much in the news and also serious topics of discussion among many groups across North America in the last several months. The issues are obviously heating up in the Southwest not only with the reports of several Dermorphin positives in Louisiana and Oklahoma, but also with the public notice of six items on the agenda of the Texas Racing Commission’s Safety and Medication Working Group meeting at Retama Park on July 18 beginning at 11am.

The agenda includes: (1) Presentation by representatives of Racing Free (a Quarter Horse group) on “An Approach to Drug Free Racing;” (2) Discussion of claiming rules as they relate to horse and rider safety; (3) Presentation by Racing Medication and Testing Consortium representatives on thresholds for therapeutic medications; (4) Limitations on access by veterinarians to “In Today” horses; (5) Discussion of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations’ Medication Policy Recommendations, including, but not limited to requiring the independent administration of Furosemide, corticosteroid use and regulation, strict penalties for use of compounded Clenbuterol and ISO17025 accreditation of drug-testing laboratories; and (6) Heat stress and protocols to address it.

Fast furlongs…Gillespie County Fair’s opening weekend found 7 Thoroughbred races among the 22 run with the second weekend of racing scheduled for July 21 and 22nd…The unified efforts of Pennsylvania owners, breeders and trainers prevented a $72 million raid on the state’s Race Horse Development Fund and limited the budgetary loss to $5 million redirected to the Pennsylvania Fairs Fund and the State Farm Products Show Fund…Belated congratulations on the June 30 Arlington Park stakes wins of former TTA Director Bill Clifton’s Kitty In A Tizzy in the $150,000 Chicago Handicap (G3) and to present Director John Adger, part owner and co-breeder of Lady Candidate, winner of the $67,100 Mariah’s Storm…Adger will go after additional Arlington added-money this Saturday when multiple stakes winner Upperline, whom he owns in partnership, goes postward as the 121-pound high weight in the $200,000 Modesty (G3), a prep for next month’s Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes…The July 20 end of the TRC’s 2013-14 dates application period is rapidly approaching…The Texas Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Craig Estes, listened for more than 3 hours last Tuesday to wide-ranging testimony on the interim charge to review the impact of state laws relating to closure of horse slaughter facilities across the United States and to analyze the impact on the equine industry and agriculture sector of the Texas economy…Kentucky’s efforts to take the lead among state regulatory agencies to ban Lasix administration in stakes through a phase-in program may find that Bluegrass legislators will not go along with the initiative when the rule changes come before them for approval…Fasig-Tipton Kentucky launched the 2012 yearling sales season on a positive note on Tuesday with 189 offerings grossing $15,364,000 for an average of $81,291, which represented respective 15.1% and 16.3% increases over the comparable 2011 select sale.