Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced a comprehensive stakes schedule with 60 stakes worth more than $6.79 million for the 145th Thoroughbred racing season at the New Orleans oval scheduled to kick off on Saturday, Nov. 19.
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 include eight stakes worth $2.36 million, highlighted by the 104thrunning of the Grade II $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1. 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 on April 1 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 on Jan. 21. 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 Stakes and the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes will complement the afternoon’s action alongside three other undercard stakes.
Five weeks later on Feb. 25, the track will host Louisiana Derby Preview Day. The day’s highlight will be the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes that will offer qualifying points toward the Grade I Kentucky Derby and will also include the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap and the Grade III $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap.
Another mainstay on the Fair Grounds Stakes Schedule, Louisiana Champions Day, will be held for the 26th time on Dec. 10. The day will feature 11 stakes races across varying divisions restricted to Louisiana-breds worth a total of $1.1 million.
The open purse minimum climbed from $60,000 to $75,000 this season, and the first three stakes races of the season will be held on Opening Day on Nov. 19, including the $50,000 Mr. Sulu Overnight Stakes, the $50,000 Happy Ticket Overnight Stakes and the $50,000 Heitai Overnight Stakes. The newly created Si Cima Overnight Stakes will be run the following day on Nov. 20 for older fillies and mares traveling one mile and 70 yards on the main track, and all four of the Opening Weekend stakes races are designed as preps for Louisiana Champions Day.
The complete 2016-17 stakes schedule can be found at: http://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/racing-wagering/stakes