Lone Star Derby now a proving ground

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas -- Bret Calhoun says it is unlikely that previous Lone Star Derbies would have been a proving ground for a trainee like 3-year-old gelding Henshin Hero.

But against a small field weakened by this year's $200,000 purse reduction, Calhoun is willing to see if his three-time winner at shorter distances can go 1 1/16 miles.

"We've got a nice horse, a tremendous sprinter,'' said Calhoun of the 8-5 morning line favorite, "but he's never gone two turns. This race should give us a gauge to his future.''

Henshin Hero, owned by Cheyenne Stable LLC, will start in the fifth position in the six-horse field for Saturday's 14th running of the Grade 3 $200,000 Lone Star Derby. It is Race 9 on the Lone Star Park card, with an approximate starting time of 5:19 p.m.

Prominent challengers will align on either side.

To the inside is 9-5 Game On Dude, a recent addition by the barn of famed California-based trainer Bob Baffert.

On the outside is 2-1 Crider, owned and bred by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, ridden by Aaron Gryder and trained by Lone Star's all-time leader, Steve Asmussen.

Calhoun expects Henshin Hero to be on the lead, but is counting on veteran jockey Bobby Walker Jr. to make sure he has some horse left for the stretch.

"We need him to be running :23 and change and :47 and change, not :22 and :45 for early fractions,'' Calhoun said.

Baffert has trained a record three previous Lone Star Derby winners: Anet in 1997, Wanna Runner in 2006 and Mythical Power last year.

Martin Garcia, who will ride Game On Dude, guided Mythical Power to the Texas Mile winner's circle for Baffert two weeks ago at Lone Star.

"Bob has always done well here,'' Calhoun said. "He's had a knack for shipping the right horses.''

Rounding out Saturday's field are two Texas breds, Gilded Woodman (50-1) and Thatlleaveamark (30-1), along with Wando Redd (12-1).