Texas Derby, Steve Sexton Mile Highlight Lone Star Memorial Day Card

May 26, 2024

Informed Patriot (inside) captures the Bathhouse Row April 20 at Oaklawn Park (Coady Media)

By Ashley Tamulonis

Memorial Day brings us an extended weekend of racing from coast to coast, and a lot of the attention will be focused on Santa Anita Park and the historic Grade 2 Hollywood Gold Cup. Not to be overlooked, however, is the holiday card Lone Star Park has put together. The Grand Prairie, Texas track offers up six stakes races, attracting runners from all over the country, capped by the $300,000 Texas Derby and the $400,000 Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile.

Scheduled as race 10 on the twelve-race card, the 1 1/16-mile Texas Derby attracted a field of ten with more than half the entrants exiting the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Tabbed as the 5-2 morning line favorite, Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby third-place finisher E J Won the Cup tops the field. The son of Omaha Beach took seven attempts to finally break his maiden; however, he’s gone 3: 2-0-1 in his last three races. Along with finishing third in the Santa Anita Derby, in which he was only beaten by 3 ½-lengths by winner Stronghold, E J Won the Cup was also victorious in the $60,000 Turf Paradise Derby. Mike Smith flies in from California to ride the Doug O’Neill trainee.

Real Men Violin and Informed Patriot figure to be E J Won the Cup’s biggest competitors. Real Men Violin was 2nd in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) as a juvenile but did not progress at Fair Grounds in the Risen Star (G2), where he was 8th, and the Louisiana Derby (G2), where he was 11th. A drop in class resulted in a 2nd place finish in the $200,000 Illinois Derby in his most recent start. Reylu Gutierrez will ride the Kenny McPeek trainee.

Informed Patriot, meanwhile, comes off a determined win in the $200,000 Bathhouse Row Stakes at Oaklawn. He is also a veteran of the Road to the Kentucky Derby that just couldn’t keep pace with the top talent in the crop. However, this is a well-spotted race for both colts. Stewart Elliot will get the leg up from trainer Steve Asmussen.

An interesting longshot here is Dimatic. Like the others here, he left a lot to be desired in trying to make the starting gate at Churchill Downs. However, the Steve Asmussen trainee is coming off a victory in a high-level optional claimer at Oaklawn that was contested at the same 1 1/16-mile distance as the Texas Derby. Overall, Dimatic is 5: 2-0-1 over the distance. Additionally, Asmussen has won at a 20% clip with a 39% in-the-money rate in all stakes races at Lone Star over the last five years, according to Race Lens. Keith Asmussen has the call for Dimatic.

Rounding out the field are Victory for Vets, Higgins Boat, General Ledger, Awesome Road, Lucky Jeremy, and The Donegal Clan.

The Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile immediately follows up the Texas Derby as the eleventh race on the card. Worth an overall $400,000, the mile race attracted a field of eight, headed by Oaklawn Mile (G3) winner Frosted Grace. Previously trained by Robertino Diodoro, the Oaklawn Mile (G3) was the 8-year-old’s first race for new trainer Mike Maker. With Ramon Vazquez aboard, who also has the return call, the son of Mark Valeski posted a career-high 111 Equibase speed figure while beating fellow Sexton Mile entrant Silver Prospector by 1 ½-lengths. Frosted Grace is undefeated in two starts in 2024, albeit his yearly bow came in a claiming race. One note is that Frosted Grace is the defending Steve Sexton winner while Silver Prospector won the race in 2022. 

Silver Prospector himself can potentially add some value to tickets. While he’s not the most consistent runner in the field, he does like the Lone Star track. He has a career record of 3: 1-0-1 here. His record in 2024 is 4: 1-1-1 with his only off-the-board placing coming last out in the $200,000 Lake Ouachita Stakes after getting off to a slow start. Keith Asmussen will have the call for his father Steve.

Touchuponastar is another that sure to be hammered at the betting windows. The gelded son of Star Guitar is 16: 12-3-1 lifetime and boasts the highest Equibase speed figure in the field: the 118 he earned last year when fittingly winning the $75,000 Star Guitar Stakes. So far in 2024, he’s 3: 2-1-0. He absolutely dominated the state-bred Louisiana-Bred Premier Championship Stakes by 6 ¾-lengths while likewise thumping the competition by 5 ¾-lengths in the state-bred Evangeline Downs Classic last out. His only loss this year came to Red Route One in the New Orleans Classic (G2), and he was only beaten by 2-lengths. He was also a close 2nd in the Sexton Mile last year, just 1 ½-lengths behind winner Frosted Grace. Regular rider Timothy Thornton will get the leg up from trainer Jeff Delhomme. 

Everso Mischievous takes the Forty Niner (G2) Oct. 28 at Aqueduct (NYRA/Coglianese)

Also worth looking at are Everso Mischievous and Lure Him In. Brad Cox brings Everso Mischievous in off a nearly six-month layoff. The 4-year-old son of Into Mischief was last seen finishing a dismal 11th in the Cigar Mile (G2) back at the beginning of December. That was his only out-of-the-exacta placing in seven career starts. Cox is excellent at getting his runners fit off a layoff with a 22% win rate and 58% in the money clip with runners coming off a 2-6 month layoff over the past year.

Lure Him In is another with a superior Equibase speed figure. He earned a dazzling 115 when winning the state-bred Sunshine Classic at Gulfstream to begin his 2024 season. While he has gotten 1 1/16-mile and 1 1/8-mile in the past, I believe the mile distance is more up his alley, with a 5: 3-0-0 record at a dirt mile. Edgar Zayas has the call for Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Completing this field are Presidential, Heroic Move, and Denington

Post time for the Texas Derby is 6:55 p.m. EDT with the Grade 3 Steve Sexton Mile following at 7:37 p.m. EDT.

Contributing Authors

Ashley Tamulonis

Ashley Tamulonis

Ashley has been an avid horse racing fan since she was introduced to the sport through the Joanna Campbell series "Thoroughbred." As a Georgia native...

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@AmWager @jonathanstettin @GulfstreamPark And starts off the day with a winner.

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