Draw for Louisiana Cup Day to Take Place Saturday, September 12
Bossier City, LA – Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will add one additional race each day, beginning Monday, September 14 through the conclusion of the 2020 Thoroughbred racing season on Wednesday, September 23. This is in addition to the purse increase of $1,500 per race which was announced on August 8.
“Supporting our local horsemen continues to be a high priority for Harrah’s Louisiana Downs,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing. “We were forced to delay the start of our meet due to COVID-19, which was not expected. Then, Hurricane Laura had a devastating impact on many members of our racing community. We are hopeful that the purse increase and extra day will benefit these horsemen who have been very loyal to our racetrack.”
Tight Trainer Battle Developing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs
The next two weeks at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will offer an exciting battle for leading trainer honors with three horsemen solidly in contention. Steve Asmussen is the current leader with 36 wins; Karl Broberg follows closely with 34 and Shane Wilson is also in the hunt with 31 winners to date.
Asmussen, who has traveled from Texas to New York to Kentucky this summer has a solid team in place at Louisiana Downs. Assistants Mitch Dennison and Misty Drinkwater handle the day to day care of the Hall of Fame conditioner’s runners at Louisiana Downs. Dennison explained that when the Evangeline Training Center closed two years ago, it was Louisiana Downs that stepped up with an opportunity to stable and train in Shreveport.
“Louisiana Downs has been our hub for this region for two years,” said Dennison. “Steve believes in having each horse being productive at their class level. So, in addition to our success here this meet, we are able to train and ship horses where they fit.”
Dennison credits David Heitzmann and his team for their continued commitment this season.
“I can’t thank them enough for working with us and being so accommodating,” added Dennison. “The track surfaces are excellent; (track superintendent) Billy McKeever does an amazing job. We have a couple of horses pointed to Cup Day and hope we will be able to win the training title”
Karl Broberg, who has been the #1 trainer by wins in North America for the past seven years, won 45 races here last year, finishing second to Joey Foster. He and his crew will be gearing up over the next nine live racing days.
“I’m thankful that Louisiana Downs has been so accommodating to horsemen through this incredibly tough year,” said Broberg. “They were the first track in this region to turn the lights on and work to get racing back on track. All credit goes to the management team.”
It is the first time in eight years that Wilson, a native of Haughton, Louisiana, has stabled here.
“We were all in limbo several months ago,” said Wilson describing the impact of COVID-19 on the resumption of racing in Louisiana. “However (Director of Racing) David Heitzmann was the first to step up with a plan. We knew the early May date was not possible, but David set June 6 as the opening date at Louisiana Downs and quickly got the condition book posted.”
There were some anxious moments for Wilson, but he credits his owners for their support.
“So many of my owners were loyal and I knew we had a good barn coming into the meet,” he said. “I came in thinking we had a good chance to win 30 races, and we have done that already.”
Wilson reflects on the impact of COVID-19 on racing over the last six months.
“It’s been a challenge for everyone,” Wilson stated. “But one positive is that my two sons stayed with us and home schooled. They were looking to make some extra money, so got up every morning at 4:00 am to help out at the barn. My wife, Becky, was with us as well. So, despite all the challenges, it has been a good summer for our family.”
However, there is little doubt that Joel Dominguez will be caught in the race for leading jockey of the meet. He has been racking up the wins throughout the season and currently tops his fellow riders with 59 wins since the meet began on June 6. Jack Gilligan is second with 37 trips to the winner’s circle. Jose Guerrero has ridden 36 winners to date and Gerardo Mora rounds out the top four with 32 victories.
This is the fourth year that Dominguez has been based at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. He began in 2017 as an apprentice, winning 31 races that year and returning in 2018, losing his bug on May 22, but transitioning smoothly to the journeyman ranks. The 30-year-old Dominguez was born in Durango, Mexico, and experience in the saddle began in Kentucky, galloping for both Asmussen and veteran Kentucky-based conditioner, Neil Howard.
Louisiana Cup Day Draw Set for Saturday, September 12
Nominations for the annual Louisiana Cup Day at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs have closed with tremendous interest from horsemen. Six stakes for accredited Louisiana-breds will be contested on Saturday, September 19. The draw for the following Louisiana Cup stakes will take place on Saturday, September 12.
Louisiana Cup Day Featured Stakes
$40,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile 2 YO LA-Bred Six furlongs
$40,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies 2 YO Fillies LA-Bred Six furlongs
$40,000 Louisiana Cup Filly & Mare Sprint 3 YO & Up F&M, LA-Bred Six furlongs
$40,000 Louisiana Cup Sprint 3 YO & Up LA-Bred Six furlongs
$40,000 Louisiana Cup Turf Classic 3 YO & Up LA-Bred 1 1/16 miles (T)
$40,000 Louisiana Distaff 3 YO & Up F & M LA-Bred 1 1/16 miles (T)
Update on Jockey Rico Flores
Jockey Rico Flores was injured in a spill on Tuesday, September 1 and was transported to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a cervical spine injury and underwent surgery earlier this week.
His companion, Sally Warne, stopped by the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs racing office on Tuesday and gave an update that Flores was able to move his legs and feet fine; lift his head, shoulders, and elbows, but still not able to move his fingers. He will begin physical therapy today. She added that it will be a “long road” to recovery.
According to statistics on Equibase. Flores has won 366 races and purses of $5.9 million since he began riding in 1994.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist Flores in his recovery. If you are able to make a donation, please visit: GoFundMe.com.RicoFlores.
LTBA To Award Scholarships on Louisiana Cup Day
Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA) will draw for two $1,000 scholarships on September 19 via Facebook Live during Louisiana Cup Day at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. The drawings will be between the fifth and sixth races in the winner’s circle. *Due to the COVID-19 students do not have to be present to win a scholarship.
The requirements for the scholarship are as follows:
Must be a college student enrolled full-time in a Louisiana College, University or Community College for Fall 2020.
Must be in good standing with the college or university.
Must have University ID number or Social Security number.
The scholarship will be deposited directly into the student’s account at the college or university. The student is asked to know the name and address of the college that they are attending.
Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association manages the best incentive program for breeding thoroughbreds in the United States. Since the organization formed, this has led to increased purses, better quality horses, and increased interest in racing and breeding horses. The thoroughbred racing and breeding industry generates over $1 billion and employs over 60,000 people in the state of Louisiana.
For more information about Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association visit louisianabred.com or call 1-800-772-1195.
Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Fundraiser To Take Place on Louisiana Cup Day
Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will conduct a fundraiser on Saturday, September 19 in support of the Shantel Lanerie Cancer Breast Foundation. The beloved Louisiana native and wife of jockey Corey Lanerie was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in January, 2018 and passed away just six months later. She is survived by her parents, husband and daughter, Brittlyn.
Rick Mocklin, who was Lanerie’s agent for ten years and his wife, Janette, were close friends of Shantel. Mocklin serves as founder and president of the Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Foundation (SLBCF). The 501(c)(3) organization was founded in September, 2018 with a mission of educating, empowering and encouraging women to become pro-active in early detection, and if diagnosed, surviving breast cancer. Acknowledging that breast cancer impacts the entire family, the Foundation designates funds raised through donations and fundraisers to assist with basic needs of breast cancer patients through every stage of diagnosis and treatment.
Beginning at 2:00 pm on Louisiana Cup Day, a table will be set up in the grandstand with monogrammed apparel and memorabilia. Jockeys will be on hand to autograph the items, with all proceeds to benefit the foundation. Fans will be able to stop by the table, purchase items or make donations until 6:00 pm.
Mocklin has reached out to each of the Louisiana racetracks on their premier racing days to support fundraising efforts for the foundation. Sadly, due to COVID-19, many of the scheduled events this year have been canceled.
“The pandemic has affected so many people this year and events at many tracks were not able to take place,” said Mocklin. “We are grateful to Louisiana Downs for welcoming us back on Cup Day again this year.
Handicapping Preview Show Set for Saturday, September 19
Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary and regional racing publicist Martha Claussen will team up for a pre-race handicapping preview at 2:00 pm in the Inside Rail, located on the first floor of the grandstand. They will offer analysis and their selections for each of the races on the Louisiana Cup Day card. The seminar is free and open to all racing fans.
Post Times and Racing Dates
The 2020 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs got underway on Saturday, June 6. The 64-day meet will run Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday through September 23. Post time is 3:05 pm (Central).
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.