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Lone Star renames Texas Mile in honor of late exec Sexton

Lone Star Park near Dallas has renamed one of its premier races, the Grade 3, $200,000 Texas Mile, for the late racing executive Steve Sexton.

Sexton, who was part of the track's original management team, died in December after battling brain cancer. He was 57.

The Steve Sexton Mile for 3-year-olds and up will be run May 7. It will serve as a platform to raise awareness for a cause important to Sexton, putting underprivileged youth through college. Toward that end, the family is creating the Steven P. Sexton Foundation.

"Having a race named after my dad is fantastic and fitting, an incredible honor for our family," said Sexton's son, Taylor Sexton. "We're very excited about the race and look forward to watching the Steven P. Sexton Foundation make a difference in the lives of young people. This is one of many instances where my dad wouldn't say he deserved it. But he did."

Taylor Sexton said his father's desire to put low-income students through college was discovered after his death on a piece of paper listing his goals.

"He had it stored in an envelope in the closet," Taylor said. "I'd never seen it before. We were going through his papers."

The family immediately raised $20,000 for the cause through a GoFundMe account; they hope to put one student a year into college. The objective will be promoted on Steve Sexton Mile Day.

"The race is a great way to not only raise awareness but collect donations," Taylor Sexton said. "As much as this race further establishes his legacy, it [also raises] money for a cause of which he would be extremely proud."

Sexton helped open Lone Star in 1997 and worked in various management positions at Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Canterbury Park, and Thistledown. He was named president of Churchill Downs Inc.'s Arlington Park in 2001 and later took a similar post at Churchill. He returned to Texas in 2009 to become the managing partner of a sports consulting firm in Dallas.

"Anyone who knew or worked with Steve Sexton knows he was one of the most versatile, talented, and dedicated racing executives of his time," said Scott Wells, president and general manager of Lone Star. "We are proud that the Steve Sexton Mile will live on at Lone Star Park as a tribute to him and to his spirit of achievement and excellence."

* Texas Chrome, the reigning Texas-bred Horse of the Year after winning last year's Grade 3 Super Derby and Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby, is being pointed to the Steve Sexton Mile, according to trainer J.R. Caldwell.

The horse launches his 4-year-old season Saturday in the Grade 2, $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap.

* Illussion Artist, who closed up the rail to win the $150,000 Carousel on the turnback in distance last weekend at Oaklawn, will now be pointed to a stakes race at Churchill Downs, said trainer Brad Cox.

Cox said Illussion Artist is on deck for the Grade 3, $100,000 Winning Colors, a six-furlong race for fillies and mares May 27.

Illussion Artist won the Carousel over six furlongs in 1:09.42. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92. Illussion Artist is a Louisiana-bred who races for Steve Landers of Little Rock, Ark.

* Uncontested, who won the first 3-year-old route stakes of the Oaklawn meet, the $150,000 Smarty Jones in January, is a candidate for the Grade 3, $250,000 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs, said trainer Wayne Catalano. The horse is now based in Kentucky. The Pat Day Mile is for 3-year-olds and will be run on the Kentucky Derby card May 6.

* Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg said he will have a 40-horse stable at Churchill following the close of Oaklawn on Saturday. He said he has a number of promising 2-year-olds for the upcoming meet in Louisville, Ky.