Diego Saenz-2018
Diego Saenz. Hodges Photography

Bossier City, LA – Super Derby 39 at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs on Sunday, September 2 was successful on many levels.  The 13-race card featured seven stakes races, highlighted by the  Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby.


A field of nine competed with top horsemen Tom Amoss, Al Stall, Jr., Brad Cox and Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen sending in quality 3-year-olds for the 39th running of the prestigious championship.


It was Michael Lankford’s Limation who pulled off a stunning upset in Super Derby 39 at odds of 26-1 and despite a heavy downpour earlier in the afternoon, the richest race of the 2018 Thoroughbred season went off under sunny skies.


Officials reported a 12% increase in handle from the 2017 Super Derby card, which also showcased 13 races.
“We were very pleased with the quality of racing on Super Derby Day,” said David Heitzmann, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs director of racing. “The response from some of the nation’s most respected horsemen surpassed our expectations and despite the lone afternoon shower, we presented a very competitive race card.”


Promotions, special events and hospitality in the suite level added to the overall festive nature of Super Derby 39.


“It was a great day overall and would not have been possible without the efforts of the hard-working racing office staff and entire team at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs,” added Heitzmann.


First Graded Stakes for Jockey Diego Saenz

Horseplayers should never ignore jockey Diego Saenz on Super Derby Day. Last year, the 39-year-old rider won three of the seven stakes on the program. He set the bar even higher on Sunday, winning four of the seven features, and notching the first graded stakes of his career.


His stakes wins on Sunday’s card included Bermuda Star, owned by Brittlyn Stable, Inc.in the $60,000 River Cities; Yes Gorgeous in the $60,000 Elge Rasberry for owner and trainer Scott Gelner and Ice City Ghost and homebred by Dream Walkin Farms, Inc., who scored the upset in the $60,000 Sunday Silence. Ice City Ghost paid $42.20, but that was not the biggest longshot of the Super Derby card for Saenz!

That came in the eleventh race of the afternoon when Saenz rode Limation, for owner Michael Langford in the Super Derby. Considered an outsider by the betting public, Saenz had studied his form and had a pretty good idea what kind of a trip the son of Alternation would need. The Kentucky-bred colt was saddled by Asmussen’s longtime assistant Darren Fleming.


“For me, I just threw out his last race, and was hoping to give him a clear trip and keep his face clean,” explained Saenz. “Darren never seemed nervous and that gave me confidence.”


Saenz was content to stay off the early speed and had plenty of horse left when he rounded the far turn. He got clear at the top of the lane, crossing the wire in 1:43.91, by a margin of 5 ¾ lengths over the top betting choice, Lone Sailor.


“I had my horse where he needed to be and when we hit the quarter pole, he just drew off,” he said.


It was the first Super Derby and very first graded stakes for Saenz, and a pretty nice win payout of $56.40 for the many Louisiana horseplayers who have faith in the top Louisiana jockey.


“I won a $300,000 turf stakes with Heitai at Evangeline Downs, but this was my first grade 3,” he said. “I’ve been riding at Louisiana Downs since 2004; this was my very first Super Derby mount. It felt pretty good to win such an important race.”


Saenz had three mounts on Monday’s Labor Day racing card, scoring an allowance victory aboard Harlons Commision.  He took a minute to reflect upon his Super Derby 39 success.


“I am very grateful to Steve for giving me the opportunity to ride Limation,” said Saenz. “I also want to thank trainers Carl Deville, Scott Gelner, Victor Arceneaux and my agent, Louis Coco, who works very hard for me.”


Saenz, who was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, has been riding professionally since 2004 and has won 1,987 wins from 10,198 starts in his 15-year career.


He and his wife have three children and reside in Carencro, a suburb of Lafayette, Louisiana. Saenz will head to Delta Downs when their meet opens October 17. He has won four leading rider titles at the Vinton, Louisiana racetrack.


Update on Super Derby Winner Limation

Limation, winner of Sunday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs came out of the race in good order and has returned to trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn at Remington Park.

“I expect the Oklahoma Derby to be next for him,” the Hall of Fame conditioner told Mary Rampellini of the Daily Racing Form.

According to Rampellini, the Kentucky-bred son of Alternation will be pointed to the Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on September. 30. Mike Langford, owner of Limation  also campaigns 2017 Oklahoma Derby champion, Untrapped.


Weiner Dog Races Set for Saturday, September 8

Rain on Labor Day forced the cancelation of the popular Weiner Dog Races, but Harrah’s Louisiana Downs has rescheduled the entertaining event for Saturday, September 8.  Family-friendly activities will get underway at 11:00 amwith the first Wiener Dog race at noon. The championship is scheduled for 2:00 pm.


Live Thoroughbred action follows at its regular time of 3:15 pm.



About Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.

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