2017-18 Fair Grounds Meet is Loaded with 57 Stakes

Press Release

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced a comprehensive stakes schedule with 57 stakes worth more than $6.69 million for the 146th Thoroughbred racing season at the New Orleans oval. Opening Day is slated for Saturday, Nov. 18 and will include four overnight stakes.

The stakes schedule will mirror several past seasons with a major focus on big event days, including the meet’s centerpiece, Louisiana Derby Day, which will again include eight stakes worth $2.36 million, highlighted by the 105th running of the Grade II $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 24. The Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap and the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial will also be run the same day along with four additional undercard stakes.

Leading into the Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds will also host a pair of major stakes days designed as part of The Road to the Kentucky Derby, beginning with Road to the Derby Kickoff Day presented by Hotel Monteleone on Jan. 13. The Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes will be the first race on the Fair Grounds stakes schedule to offer qualifying points for the Grade I Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands. The Grade III $125,000 Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap and the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes will complement the afternoon’s action alongside three other undercard stakes.

Five weeks later on Feb. 17, the track will host Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Lamarque Ford Lincoln. The day’s highlight will be the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes that will offer qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby and will also include the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, the Grade III $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap and the Grade III $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap.

Another mainstay on the Fair Grounds Stakes Schedule, Louisiana Champions Day presented by Acadian Ambulance Service, will be held for the 27th time on Dec. 9. The day will feature 11 stakes races across varying divisions restricted to Louisiana-breds worth a total of $1.1 million.

Two new overnight stakes races will be held in honor of local mainstays who passed away in 2017. The $50,000 Richard R. Scherer Memorial Overnight Stakes will be held Dec. 2 for fillies and mares at 5½ furlongs on the turf, and the Nelson J. Menard Memorial Overnight Stakes will be run at the same distance for older fillies and mares on March 10.

The complete 2017-2018 stakes schedule can be found at: https://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/racing-wagering/stakes.

Is Horse Racing Dead? Louisiana Meet up 12%

Press Release

The 2017 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs concluded with a nine-race card on Wednesday, September 27. The 84-day meet, which got underway on May 6, wrapped with positive gains in handle and officials were pleased with the transition to a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday racing schedule.

Louisiana Downs handled $67 million throughout the meet, an increase of 12% in handle from the 2016 live Thoroughbred racing season.

“We are grateful for the continued support of our horsemen throughout the 2017 meet,” said Trent McIntosh, Louisiana Downs assistant general manager. “The change in our schedule was well received by horseplayers on track and by simulcast fans watching and wagering across the country.”

horses racingSunny skies graced both major racing events, the Louisiana Cup Day on Saturday, August 5 and Super Derby Day on Saturday, September 9. Flurry Racing Stables Mr. Misunderstood captured both the Prelude and $200,000 Super Derby and will make his next start in Saturday’s Jefferson Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs, according to trainer Brad Cox.

Joey Foster Repeats as Leading Trainer

Joey Foster has been firing on all cylinders this meet and defended his title in commanding fashion. The Vinton, Louisiana resident topped all conditioners with 301 starters and a record of 68 wins, 55 seconds and 48 third-place finishes. Foster was the meet’s top trainer last year with 41 wins, after finished third in the standings in 2015 with 39 wins. His stakes winners this year included Big Game Baby, in the $75,000 Elge Rasberry and Illusionofreality, who kept her four-race win streak alive in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff.

“I am very blessed to have this success,” said Foster. “This meet has been great for me and my owners. Both track surfaces are well maintained and safe. I have to commend (track superintendent) Billy McKeever for doing a super job. To me, Louisiana Downs is the prettiest track in the state and I am grateful to have won the title again this year.”

H. B. Johnson finished in second place with 27 wins. Ronnie Ward saddled 18 winners and Sarah Delany rounded out the top four conditioners with 16 wins.

Gerardo Mora Wins His First Louisiana Downs Leading Rider Title

Gerardo Mora made the most of his second year competing in Bossier City topping a very competitive jockey colony to emerge as the meet’s top rider. The 25-year-old jockey is respected for his well-timed finishes and versatility in mastering both the turf and main track and finished the meet with a record of 477 starts, 77 wins, 81 seconds and 65 thirds.

Born in Palestine, Texas, Mora had family ties to racing as his uncle, Adrian Ramos, was a veteran rider on the Louisiana and Texas circuit. He made his debut at Sam Houston Race Park as an apprentice in 2011 and earned two leading rider titles there as well as Retama Park. Mora was third in the standings last year, but had plenty of business this year and was well represented by his agent, Ronald Ardoin, who was one of the most successful jockeys in Louisiana.

“I want to thank each of the trainers, owners for believing in me,” said Mora. “Last year was a good start for me at Louisiana Downs. When I started the meet, horsemen knew me and gave me a lot of opportunities and Ronald did a great job with my book. He’s the man!”

Aubrie Green continued her strong showing, beginning the meet as an apprentice, but losing no business once she lost her bug. She finished in second place with 64 trips to the winner’s circle. Richard Eramia, who was on top for much of the season before he departed to ride at Remington Park, was third with 59 victories. Jose Guerrero rounded out the top four with 57 wins.

Next up for Mora is Delta Downs for their meet which gets underway on October 18.

Jorge Gomez Honored as Leading Owner

The very tight battle for leading owner honors concluded on the final day of the meet with Jorge Gomez finishing on top with 12 wins. Horses owned by Gomez made 114 starts, with Ty Diesel, Blue Choice and Concho posting multiple wins. This was the first leading owner title for Gomez, who resides in Bossier City, Louisiana and will head to Fair Grounds next.

“I want to thank my crew and my jockey, Alexander Castillo,” said Gomez. “They each helped me in winning my first leading owner title.”

Red Rose Racing followed closely with 11 wins and Patti Turner, Beverly Burress, Jamie C. Pastor, William K. Harris, Dream Walkin Farms, Inc., Terrell Jarret, Jr. and Anthony Faulk each won nine races each in the 2017 Thoroughbred meet.