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STALL APPLICATIONS FOR 2019 EVANGELINE DOWNS THOROUGHBRED SEASON DUE FEBRUARY 15

THE 84-DAY SEASON WILL BEGIN ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3

 

OPELOUSAS, LA – The 2019 Thoroughbred season at Evangeline Downs will cover 84 days of live racing beginning Wednesday, April 3 and continuing through Saturday, August 24. Racing will be conducted on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule with post time for the 2019 season set at 5:50 pm Central Time.

Stall applications are due by Friday, February 15, 2019. Horsemen interested in an application can visit the website www.evdracing.com and click on the Horsemen’s Info tab on the home page or contact the Evangeline Downs racing office directly by calling 337-594-3000.

Evangeline Downs’ stakes schedule will feature 20 stakes races with purses totaling $1,375,000. Louisiana Legends Night is always one of the highlights of the Thoroughbred season and will take place this year on Saturday, May 25. Legends Night is comprised of eight Louisiana-bred stakes races offering purses of $550,000.

There will be six $75,000 stakes races on Legends Night including: the Turf Distaff for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, the Turf for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, the Mademoiselle for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at 5 ½ furlongs on the main track, the Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at 5 ½ furlongs on the main track, the Soiree for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the main track, the Cheval for 3-year-olds at one mile on the main track. Additionally, there will be two $50,000 Starter Stakes on the program, one for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up at seven furlongs on the main track and one for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

The $75,000 Evangeline Downs Classic for 4-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track has been moved from Louisiana Legends Night to Saturday, April 27. It will be run on the same weekend as the $75,000 Evangeline Downs Distaff for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track on Friday, April 26.

The most valuable race of the season will be the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track scheduled for Saturday, June 22.

The full 2019 stakes schedule is pending official approval from the Louisiana Racing Commission.

For more information on the Thoroughbred season at Evangeline Downs, visit the track’s website atwww.evdracing.com. Evangeline Downs’ Twitter handle is @EVDRacing and the racetrack is also accessible on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EvangelineDownsRacing.

 

About Evangeline Downs

Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel is owned by Boyd Gaming Corporation, a leading diversified owner and operator of 22 gaming entertainment properties located in Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  Boyd Gaming press releases are available at www.prnewswire.com.  Additional news and information can be found at www.boydgaming.com, or www.evangelinedowns.com.

 

 

 

Proven Strategies: No Horsing Around with Independent Contractors

“Proven Strategies” is a new regular series in the TDN, presented by Keeneland. It is written by Len Green of The Green Group and DJ Stables, who won the 2018 GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Jaywalk (Cross Traffic).

by Len Green, John Wollenberg & Agnieszka Kagan

It is not uncommon for pinhookers or trainers to employ seasonal workers at sales or around the racetrack. Some of these employees may be considered as independent contractors.

The perception that employers are attempting to circumvent paying payroll taxes by classifying workers as independent contractors has caused the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to step up its efforts in analyzing this controversial topic more closely.

This article provides an overview of the factors examined by the IRS and offers insight into how to better secure independent contractor status.

The Advantages of Employing an Independent Contractor

Traditionally, many employers have classified workers as self-employed or as independent contractors. There are various benefits to this classification:

1) By positioning themselves as “self-employed” or independent contractors, no payroll or income taxes need to be withheld from paychecks.

2) Independent contractors do not have to be covered under pension plans and employers save on insurance and workmen’s compensation costs.

The IRS Perspective

To help determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the IRS has developed a 20-factor control test based on common law principles. The 20-factor test is an analytical tool only, there is no “magic number” of relevant points. The factors are merely points for consideration in evaluating the extent to which the employer can “direct and control” the worker.

Below are some of the more relevant factors to consider when evaluating whether an individual is an employee or self-employed/independent contractor.

Employee Factors

Instructions: A worker who is required to comply with another’s set of instructions is ordinarily considered an employee.

Training: Formal or informal training at an employer’s expense is indicative of an employer relationship.

Integration: Integrating the worker’s services into the business operations generally shows that the worker is subject to control.

Services rendered personally: If the services have to be personally rendered, the employer probably controls the means as well as the results.

Hiring, supervising and paying assistants: Unless workers hire, supervise and pay their own assistants, if any, they are likely an employee.

Continuing relationship: The longer the liaison, the more likely an employee.

Full-time required: A full-time position is indicative of an employer-employee relationship, whereas independent workers choose their own hours.

Oral or written reports: Regular accountability of progress is usually a sign of control.

Payment of expenses: Reimbursement tends to support an employer-employee relationship.

Self-Employed or Independent Contractor Factors

Hours of work: Independent contractors control their own time.

Order of sequence set: Only a nonemployee is free to determine his/her own approach, pattern, priority and schedule.

Multiple assignments: Workers who perform more than one job at a time for multiple different businesses are likely an independent contractor. Exercise riders at tracks tend to fall into this category especially if they rotate among barns or farms. Payment by hour, week or month:Independent contractors are typically paid by the job, not in regular pattern.

Tools and materials: Independent contractors provide their own tools and materials.

Economic loss: A worker who is subject to the risk of economic loss due to a liability for expenses is an independent contractor.

Right to discharge: An independent contractor generally cannot be fired if the contractual specifications are met.

Right to terminate: Employees have the right to terminate their job without incurring liability.

Safeguards to Withstand IRS Scrutiny

Since an IRS audit can result in an assessment of penalties and interest, in addition to the employer/employee payroll taxes that will be due, it becomes incumbent to take measures to preserve the intended working relationship.

Suggestions from The Green Group

1) Apply for an advanced ruling, Form SS-8, entitled “Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding.” The advantage to this filing is to get clarity as to whether a worker is an employee. The form focuses on behavioral control, financial control and relationship of the worker.

2) Enter into a written consulting agreement with language coordinated to the 20-factor control test. The contract should specify the nature of the work to be performed, discuss the terms and conditions and state the responsibilities of the independent contractor.

3) Utilize practices that are consistent with recognized practices in the horse industry, specifically with farm owners, pinhookers and trainers.

State Interpretations

Please check as to your state’s specific regulations. Since some states apply their own standards, often stricter than the IRS rules in terms of reclassifying independent contractors into employees. Some use a three-prong “ABC” test with the employer having the burden to prove that the relationship is that of an independent contractor, rather than as an employee. In other states, an independent contractor is someone you hire to work on a task unrelated to the field of business you are associated in and whose work you have no control over. While still other states use a “level of control” test.

Department of Labor Audits (DOL)

As if a trainer’s life isn’t difficult enough, the DOL has started extensive audits at racetracks to make sure workers are being properly paid for their hours. Since many trainers do not traditionally use “time clocks” to keep track of hours worked, this becomes an expensive issue.

Our team has had success in this area.

Summary

You must analyze whether a potential employer-employee relationship exists with people who work for you.

Penalties can be imposed for failure to withhold income and employment taxes, and qualified retirement plans could be jeopardized if employees who should be covered are not due to misclassification as independent contractors.

Bottom Line

You should have an accountant who is familiar with the Thoroughbred Industry review your practices. You might need to change your procedures to satisfy the complicated IRS rules. If the IRS challenges you and wins, you may be subject to interest and penalties.

If you have any specific questions, please call us for a free one-hour consultation.

The Green Group

Phone: (732) 634-5100

Exercise Rider Severely Injured, Two Horses Killed In Head-On Collision At Fair Grounds

by | 01.11.2019

 

Roderick “Roddy” MacKenzie was severely injured in an accident during morning training hours at the Fair Grounds

An accident during Monday’s morning training hours at the Fair Grounds resulted in the death of a pair of Thoroughbred racehorses and severe injuries to one exercise rider, Roderick “Roddy” MacKenzie.

According to various individuals with knowledge of the situation, an unnamed young horse from the barn of Joe Sharp unseated his rider and took off the wrong way around the racetrack. MacKenzie was breezing another horse for trainer Neil Howard and was unable to avoid the loose horse. The ensuing head-on collision resulted in the death of both horses –  it was unclear whether the horses were killed instantly or had to be euthanized.

(Howard declined to identify his horse in order to protect the privacy of its owners.)

MacKenzie suffered a broken arm and broken leg, and has undergone a pair of surgeries this week. Howard said the exercise rider came through the surgeries well and is in good spirits.

“This incident was a blink of the eye incident; there wasn’t any safety feature that any track has in place that would have had any impact on this accident,” said Howard. “It was unfortunate that a rider came off a horse, and you hate to say this but it’s just one of those things that happens that we all have in the back of our minds.”
The safety alert system at the Fair Grounds involves flashing lights around the track and an announcer letting riders know where the horse is and which way it is moving.“I’ll say this, when you’re on a horse out there, not only do you know there’s a loose horse but you also know where that horse is, how fast he’s moving and what direction he’s moving in,” Howard explained. “So the feature that they have here, actually exercise riders are put at ease. When I leave here, I miss it.”

Ask Your Veterinarian: What Are Hoof Growth Rings?

by | 01.10.2019 | 3:06pm

QUESTION: What are hoof growth rings and what does it mean when you see them on a horse at sale?

DR. SCOTT FLEMING: Growth rings are externally visible ridges in the hoof that indicate differences in the rate of growth or quality of a horse’s hoof wall. The appearance and number of rings can vary from several consecutive rings to a single or widely intermittent pattern. Growth rings can be indicative of a problem within the hoof capsule or may just be an external map of changes in activity, nutrition, or a systemic disturbance that altered hoof growth at one time.

The average hoof on a healthy adult horse will grow from the coronary band to the ground in approximately one year. Alterations in hoof growth or quality such as laminitis can greatly affect growth rates. For example, the hoof wall at the toe may grow slower than the heels in both laminitis and clubfooted hooves while exhibiting a similar dished appearance. Both conditions may take much longer for the toe to grow to the ground.

 

Visually, the growth rings will appear small and tightly spaced at the toe and become wider and more pronounced toward the heels where the growth rate is more rapid. We describe these growth rings as being divergent. They are wider in one part of the hoof than another region. They can be divergent in several planes, such as those described previously, or wider at the toe than heels or even wider on the outside of the hoof than the inside or vice versa. These patterns tell us something about the hoof and what forces, either internal or external, are causing growth differences in the hoof. Wider (faster growth) at the toe than heels can mean the heels are compressed or compromised in some manner. We often see this pattern with negative palmar/plantar angled coffin bones.

The hoof may also exhibit a rounded “bullnosed” appearance and the angle of the coronary band is higher than a normal hoof. Rings that are divergent from one side of the hoof compared to the other may result from differential loading due to conformation or can result from more significant insults such as medial sinking or failure of the internal suspension of the hoof. Divergent rings can often result from overloading or imbalance of one portion or structure in the hoof and can be improved through trimming and shoeing that reduces stress in the affected region.

Reading growth rings offers valuable information but is only part of the picture to overall hoof health. The rings that are visible, are a history of where that hoof has been recently, but internally, a hoof can be catastrophically failing without external signs having shown in the wall itself. Physical evaluation, a detailed history, and radiography remain the cornerstones for diagnosing hoof problems.

Scott Fleming, originally from Northeast Texas, grew up riding Western performance Quarter Horses and working with cattle. Upon graduating from high school, Fleming attended farrier school and maintained a quarter horse centric farrier business in Northeast and central Texas until moving to Lexington. He also served in the Marine Corps Infantry for four years.

Fleming graduated from veterinary school at Texas A&M University in 2013. He then completed an internship at Rood & Riddle in 2013-2014, continued at the hospital as a fellow, and is currently an associate veterinarian at Rood & Riddle.

Outside of Rood & Riddle, Fleming enjoys spending time on the farm with his wife, Tina and their two children, Callie and Case . A special interest for Dr. Fleming is participating in Equitarian Initiative trips to Central America to help working equids in the region.

Do you have a question for a veterinarian that you’d like to see in Ask Your Vet? Email natalie at paulickreport.com

Churchill Downs Increases Kentucky Derby Purse From $2 Million To $3 Million

The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) on Saturday, May 4 will be the richest in history as the purse for America’s greatest race and first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown has been elevated to a guaranteed $3 million.

The substantial $1 million increase to the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby for 3-year-olds highlights a record-setting, 34-race stakes schedule cumulatively worth $12.03 million for Churchill Downs’ 2019 Spring Meet. Fifteen of the races received significant purse hikes, including the Old Forester Turf Classic (GI), Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) and Humana Distaff (GI), and two new races were added to the historic Louisville racetrack’s action-packed season, which will be run over 38 dates from April 27-June 29. 

With a record $3 million in prize money now guaranteed for the Kentucky Derby, the winner will receive the event’s highly sought-after gold trophy and a $1.86 million payday. Also, $600,000 will be awarded to the runner-up, $300,000 to third, $150,000 to fourth and $90,000 to fifth. Previously, the Kentucky Derby purse had been worth $2 million since 2005, and was $1 million from 1996-2004.

The 1 1/8-mile Longines Kentucky Oaks – the Derby’s sister race staged one day prior on Friday, May 3 – received a $250,000 boost to $1.25 million and remains the nation’s most lucrative race for 3-year-old fillies. It had been worth $1 million since 2011, and was worth $500,000 from 1996-2010.

The race that annually precedes the Kentucky Derby, the 1 1/8-mile Old Forester Turf Classic, has been doubled from $500,000 to $1 million, making it one of the most lucrative Grade I grass races for older horses in North America and attractive to potential international competitors.

Another Derby Day fixture, the seven-furlong Humana Distaff for older fillies and mares, had its purse enhanced by $200,000 from $300,000 to $500,000.

All told, there will be a record 18 stakes races cumulatively worth $9.58 million staged over Kentucky Derby Week, including seven stakes totaling $6.2 million on Derby Day and six totaling $2.9 million on Oaks Day. There also will be a pair of stakes on the May 2 Thurbyprogram and stakes races on Tuesday and Wednesday of Derby Week.

The significant increases in stakes prize money are attributed to early returns from state-of-the-art historical racing machines at Derby City Gaming, Churchill Downs Incorporated’s $65 million facility that opened in mid-September at nearby 4520 Poplar Level Road.

“Our recent investment into historical racing machines is paying immediate dividends to Kentucky horsemen,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “It’s extremely gratifying to meaningfully raise the purse of the iconic Kentucky Derby and other important racing fixtures on our stakes schedule as we continue to advance the overall racing program at Churchill Downs. Our steady growth in available prize money is truly exciting for the Kentucky horse racing and breeding industry.”

Purses at Churchill Downs in 2019 will be supercharged with more than an additional $10 million as a result of handle generated by Derby City Gaming’s initial year of operation.

More than $30 million in total prize money – $12 million in stakes races and another $18 million in overnight races – is expected to be offered during this year’s Spring Meet. The first condition book of scheduled races is being finalized by Director of Racing Ben Huffmanand is expected to be published in early February.

Last year, Churchill Downs offered a 32-race Spring Meet stakes schedule worth $8.84 million and total purses paid during the 372-race meet was $22.2 million.

The Stephen Foster (GII), the 1 1/8-mile test that has annually attracted some of the nation’s top older horses, will be worth $600,000 in 2019 and is one of four stakes that was boosted by $100,000. The others are the Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII), American Turf presented by Ram Trucks (GII) and Pat Day Mile presented by LG&E and KU (GIII), which are now worth $400,000 apiece and run on the Derby Day undercard.

Seven races received $50,000 hikes. Oaks Day’s Eight Belles (GII), Twin Spires Turf Sprint (GII), Edgewood presented by ForchtBank (GIII) as well as mid-June’s Fleur de Lis (GII) and Wise Dan (GII) are now worth $250,000 each. The Matt Winn (GIII) and Regret (GIII) each have $150,000 purses.

The Foster, Fleur de Lis, Wise Dan, Matt Winn and Regret will be run during a “Downs After Dark” nighttime program on Saturday, June 15 that features five graded stakes races under the lights cumulatively worth $1.4 million.

Two $90,000-added overnight stakes races were added to the 2019 schedule: the Champions Day Marathon for older horses at 1 ½ miles on April 30, and the Mamzelle for 3-year-old fillies at five furlongs on turf on May 11.

The American Graded Stakes Committee upgraded a trio of Churchill Downs stakes races for 2019 and downgraded two others. The $500,000 Churchill Downs over seven furlongs on Derby Day has been raised to Grade I status, and Oaks Day’s Twin Spires Turf Sprint was elevated to a Grade II race. Also, opening night’s $100,000 William Walker for 3-year-olds at five furlongs on turf is now a Listed stakes race. The Stephen Foster was downgraded from Grade I to Grade II, and the $100,000 Aristides lost its Grade III status to become a Listed stakes race.

In other changes to the stakes schedule, the Stephen Foster, Fleur de Lis, $100,000 Old Forester Mint Julep (GIII) and $100,000 Louisville (GIII) will no longer be run under handicap conditions. Also, the distances of the Twin Spires Turf Sprint and $100,000 Unbridled Sidney (formerly an overnight stakes race and now the headliner on Thurby) have been extended from five furlongs on turf to 5 ½ furlongs on grass.

Louisiana Partners Score With Louisiana Bred Colt at Keeneland

Louisiana Partners Hit a Home Run

Perry Judice and David Meche purchased Semillon (Eskendereya), carrying her first foal by Outwork, for just $35,000 at the 2017 Keeneland November Sale and were rewarded Monday when the resulting [Louisiana-bred] colt (hip 132) sold to Chris White for $120,000.

Consigned by Select Sales, the bay colt hails from the family of GISW Cotton Blossom, GSW Vicarage and MSW Miss Atlantic City.

“We were not expecting him to bring quite that much,” said Meche, owner of Muscadine Farm. “He has really put on a lot of flesh in the last 60 days. It is night and day. He has really grown. He was ready. He looked the part and we thought getting him in the sales ring as soon as we could was best.”

Meche continued, “We like the colt because if his attitude. He is a tough colt and he has a good walk. That is what we liked the most about him.”

This is not Meche and Judice’s first rodeo when it comes to pinhooking a yearling they purchased in utero.

“We have always bought and sold and had success selling some young babies in the past,” Meche said. “We foal out, prep them and bring them here. Our goal is to buy quality mares in foal to young stallions to bring the foals back to market.”

He added, “The mare is rebred and in the regional market in Louisiana.” —@CDeBernardisTDN

Obituary: Terrence “Terry” Salvino

Horseman, Terrence Salvino  of Lyons, Illinois, passed away on January 4th 2019, at the age of 82, leaving to mourn family and friends.

He was loved and cherished by many people including : his late spouse, Marianne; his children, Duane, Michele, Keith (Laura); his grandchildren, Devene, Taylor, Dominic, Tatum, Alexis, Samantha; his great grandchild, Aniyah; his siblings, Jerome (late Pat), Laverne Cerfolio (late Robert), Roger (Pat), Joy, Cynthia, Gail Barone, Owen (Chris), Gregory (Brenda), Ralph, Neal, Noel.

Family and friends can send flowers and/or light a candle as a loving gesture for their loved one. Leave a sympathy message to the family in the guestbook on this memorial page of Terrence Salvino to show support.

Visitation on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. till time of services at 11:00 a.m. at Ivins/Moravecek Funeral Home 80 E. Burlington St. Riverside going to St. Hugh Church, Lyons Mass 12 Noon. Interment and Military Honors at Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Terrence “Terry” Salvino, please visit our Tribute Store.

Clear Creek Stud to Sponsor Annual Scholarship

January 6, 2019

 

Val Murrell, Owner and General Manager of Clear Creek Stud LLC in Folsom, La, announced that Clear Creek Stud LLC has decided to sponsor a scholarship in the amount of $5,000. The scholarship was awarded to a student whose family is currently in the thoroughbred industry in Louisiana. A committee consisting of horse industry leaders chose a worthy recipient for the scholarship whose name will be released once she/he is notified. Clear Creek Stud LLC intends to make this an annual scholarship.

From Maidens To Eclipse Award Winners, Photographer Hodges Loves Every Image

by | 01.03.2019 | 3:34pm

Amanda Hodges Weir and Lou Hodges

Fair Grounds in New Orleans has withstood the test of time as one of the most revered racetracks in North America.  For the past forty years, track photographer Lou Hodges, Jr. has captured the racing history of the venerable establishment in his own inimitable style.

Hodges is a second-generation photographer. His dad, Lou Hodges, Sr. was a veteran of the Army Air Corps during World War II and began working under Fair Grounds track photographer Jack Blythe in 1948. When Blythe retired, Hodges took over and enjoyed a successful career, honored as a member of the Fair Grounds Press Box Hall of Fame. He passed the baton to his son in 1976.

Lou Hodges, Jr. served as track photographer at several racetracks, including Rockingham Park, Washington Park and Arlington Park prior to taking the position at Fair Grounds.

He explains the goal of the images created by Hodges Photography.

“Our technique for getting perfect race shots is to use telephoto lenses to have tight shots,” said Hodges.  “We are always looking for different angles and different compositions that will make someone who views the image look twice.”

Hodges has photographed some of the most celebrated Thoroughbreds in the six-month winter Thoroughbred meet, which culminates with the running of the Louisiana Derby, a major prep for the Kentucky Derby. He cites Rachel Alexandra, Risen Star, A Letter To Harry and Gun Runner as some of the most memorable champions he has photographed at Fair Grounds.

He became part of the first father-son Fair Grounds Press Box Hall of Fame, when he was inducted in 2014.

Several years, ago, Hodges added his daughter, Amanda Hodges Weir, to his operation.  She began shooting in New Orleans periodically in 2011, but came to the business full time in 2015.

“It’s great to work with my dad,” said Amanda. “I couldn’t ask for a better mentor. He’s patient and very encouraging.”

Hodges Photography also has the contract at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in Shreveport. Ann Switalski handles the day-to-day duties for both the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred meets, with Lou coming in for the bigger race days, including Super Derby in September.

Iconic Shots

Hodges continues to add to his repertoire and create iconic images at Fair Grounds. In addition to post parade, stretch, wire and comeback shots, Lou and Amanda, with their Cannon equipment and various telephoto lenses, are always in search of shots with a “wow” factor.

Lou wanted to recreate a photo of horses rounding the far turn in front of the grandstand and accomplished that goal on Thanksgiving Day.

“It was a picture I have wanted to take for several years,” he explained. “But, several things had to be in order. I needed good weather, a long race and the ability to be on a lift high enough to get the desired angle.”

With the support of Gabe Martin, a member of the Fair Grounds facility maintenance staff, who was using a hydraulic Snorkel Lift for a light bulb replacement, Hodges stood 60 feet above the track to get his shot.

“I’m not crazy about heights, but needed to be up that high to get what I wanted,” he said.

There are many photographs he is proud of, including a beautiful sunset image of Gun Runner in the 2016 Risen Star and Calvin Borel giving Rachel Alexandra a congratulatory pat as she won the Fair Ground Oaks in 2009.

But believe it or not, as much as he enjoys the graded stakes runners and Eclipse Award-winning champions, he appreciates the maiden and allowance winners just as much.

Digital photography has added both ease and dimension to racing photography. Lou and Amanda take pride in creating composite photo arrangements for winning connections.

“We take a lot of photos for connections who may never win a graded stakes race,” he said. “To see the look on their faces when they pick up their photos is really neat and means a lot to us.”

Jazz Enthusiast

Hodges loves jazz music, with the late Dave Brubeck cited as one of his favorite artists. Fair Grounds is home to the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which takes place after the conclusion of the Thoroughbred racing season.  Set-up for the event is a massive undertaking and the Jazz Fest organizers move in and take control at full throttle.  One year, Lou entered the Fair Grounds press box to take an aerial photo of the infield. However, he was refused entrance by the Jazz Fest staff.

“I pointed to my picture on the wall,” said Hodges. “But my Hall of Fame status didn’t make an impact on them!”

Nonetheless, he has high regard for the annual event, preferring to enjoy the festivities from the infield versus the grandstand and elite press box.

No Signs of Slowing Down

Hodges has been a part of a remarkable and often unpredictable history at Fair Grounds. In addition to the racing glory, he has seen the racetrack go through catastrophic events, including the grandstand fire of 1993 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

You might think that after over four decades, the grind of  racetrack photography would dull his enthusiasm, but that is far from the case with Lou Hodges.

“Actually, it’s more exciting than ever,” he stated. “It used to be a maddening process in the dark room and composite photos were pretty much impossible. Now with digital photography, there is so much more we can do.”

Ryan Martin, Fair Grounds’ Racing Media Relations Coordinator works closely with Hodges Photography and appreciates Lou for both his personality and professionalism.

“Lou Hodges is a very valuable asset to the Fair Grounds team,” said Martin. “Both he and Amanda do a fabulous job in what they do and are a pleasure to work with. Whenever I need to photo to include with press releases or to post to social media, I can always count on Hodges to come through with a solid, top quality image. He has decades of experience in doing what he does and his work is a massive reflection of that. Aside from his work, Lou is a very great person who is always happy to help out. Racing is anything but short of talented photographers and Lou Hodges is no exception.”

Now 70, Hodges began shooting photos with his dad at Fair Grounds when he was just 12-years-old. He gets a kick out of some the faithful “old timers” who tease him about still “hanging around”, and enjoys working with staffers, many of whom are forty years his junior.

“I’m surrounded by young people, but can outlast them all,” enthusiastically proclaimed Hodges.

Martha Claussen has been prominent in the racing industry since 1997 as a publicist, writer and handicapper.

Songandaprayer Pensioned from Stud Duty

Songandaprayer, a grade 1 winner and sire of 38 black-type winners, has been pensioned from commercial stud duty, according to Journeyman Stud near Ocala, Fla., where the stallion stood in 2018.

Bred in Kentucky by Donna Wormser, the son of Unbridled’s Song was purchased by agent Buzz Chace for $470,000 at the 1999 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale. Pinhooker Robert Scanlon later sold the colt for $1 million at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale to basketball star Bobby Hurley and his wife, Leslie.

Hurley and his wife, along with D.J. Stable, won the 2001 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1) and placed second in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) with Songandaprayer. He was retired at 3 with 3-1-1 record out of eight starts and $380,480 in earnings.

Songandaprayer entered stud in Florida in 2002 at Marablue Farm, which bought D.J. Stable’s interest. He stood at Marablue for three seasons before being transferred to Hartley/DeRenzo, Walmac South (also in Florida) for a season and then was sent to Walmac Farm in Kentucky. He stood five seasons at The Stallion Station@Copper Crowne before ending his stud career at Journeyman.

Songandaprayer was Florida’s leading freshman sire in 2005 with over $1 million in progeny earnings and three black-type winners, including multiple graded stakes winner What a Song. As a sire, he had 63% winners from foals and 90 black-type performers, which included three champions. His 15 crops to race earned more than $51.5 million and averaged $58,021 per starter.

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