Solid Meet for the Haughton, Louisiana Horseman
Bossier City, LA –Some might think that praising the importance of owners in horseracing is a standard catchphrase, but not to trainer Shane Wilson. The current leading trainer at Louisiana Downs took a few minutes after a hot and sultry afternoon card to talk about how his owners sustained him through the challenges of 2020 and put him on top this season in the 2021 meet.
“Many horsemen struggled last year during the (COVID-19) pandemic,” explained Wilson. “Sitting out for six months was a hardship on trainers, but I’m blessed with great clients who supported us. Thankfully, we were able to keep our whole stable intact.”
Several clients, including Wayne T. Davis, Joe Hackler and David Fontenot have been with Wilsonfor over 14 years.
“I began training in 1997 and am fortunate to have some loyal owners who trust me and love to see their horses run,” he added. “From the stakes company as well as the claiming level, with the support of my owners, we continue to be competitive.”
This is the second year in a row that Wilson set up shop at the Bossier City racetrack. He does not hesitate when asked about his allegiance to Louisiana Downs.
“David Heitzmann (Louisiana Downs Director of Racing) communicated with the horsemen through the shutdown in 2020,” said Wilson. “He was the first to set a plan and give us a projected opening date.”
Louisiana Downs was able to open their 84-day meet on its regular (Kentucky Derby) opening date this year, and Wilson has been pleased with way the season has progressed.
“The track surfaces are very good, and they have made some improvements to the paddock and other areas of the complex. Having Camel and Ostrich Racing (on May 30) and these Family Sundays has brought in new fans. Promotions are part of it, but to me, they are working hard to sell horseracing as their core product.”
Wilson worked summers at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, starting when he was 15 mucking stalls and hot walking for trainer Jack Van Berg. His brief foray to college did not last as he realized that he wanted to pursue a career in racing. He served as assistant to Sam David for seven years before going out on his own.
Aside from his racing ties, Wilson has another notable connection to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. He met his wife, Becky, the daughter of horseman Jim O’Brien, here. The couple has two sons. Peyton is 20 years-old and his brother, Connor, 17, both help their dad out when they are not inschool.
His stable star is the multiple-stakes winning Mocito Rojo, a 7-year-old son of Mutadda. Wilson claimed the Kentucky-bred for owner Wayne T. Davis for $10,000 in a December 2016 maiden race at Delta Downs. He has amassed a record of 20 wins from 37 starts and earnings of $882,863. In 2019, Mocito Rojo won the Steve Sexton Mile Stakes (G3) at Lone Star Park and the Lukas Classic Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. He has won back-to-back races this meet at Louisiana Downs.
“He’s an amazing animal,” said Wilson. “I like to say he keeps winning despite his trainer.”
But the truth is Wilson has not shied away from changing things up for the intrepid runner.
“He got a little lackluster in his route races, so I shortened him to six furlongs this year (on May 18),” said Wilson.
He won that sprint in 1:09.78 and returned on June 6, taking on four rivals in a seven furlong allowance optional claimer, in which he won in 1:21.70. The speedy Kentucky-bred just missed breaking the track record of 1:21.60 set on July 4, 1984.
“I told (jockey) Jose Guerrero to really let him go,” recalled Wilson. “I felt adding a track-record setting performance might help his stud career. When Jose saw the final time, he looked at me and said, “I thought you were kidding!”
Track record aside, Wilson has true admiration for Mocito Rojo, who will hopefully surpass the million dollar earnings mark in his career.
“I have watched every one of his 37 races,” admitted Wilson. “He was so little and skinny as a 3-year-old. This $10,000 claimer has taken us places we’ve never gone!”
Wilson will send both Mocito Rojo and 3-year-old Rightandjust to the Iowa Festival of Racing Friday, July 2 and Saturday, July 3 at Prairie Meadows. Rojo is nominated to the $100,000 Iowa Sprint and Rightandjust, a colt by Awesome Again, also owned by Davis, will point to the $250,000 Iowa Derby.
Wilson turned 50 this year and came to an interesting revelation on his training objectives.
“When I was younger, it was all about winning,” he stated. “Now I enjoy the mornings when I can watch them train and really learn more about each of their personalities. Figuring out the puzzlefor each horse at different levels keeps it fun !”
Louisiana Downs Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings
As of June 15, Shane Wilson leads his fellow conditioners with 16 wins from 52 starts. Joe Duhon, Joey Foster and Karl Broberg are tied for second place with 12 wins each. Last year’s winning trainer Steve Asmussen, follows closely with 11 victories since the meet began on Saturday, May 1.
2020 leading rider Joel Dominguez is on top of the standings with 31 wins. Emanuel Nieves, who is also having an excellent meet, is in second place with 27 trips to the winner’s circle, followed by Jose Guerrero (22) and Carlos Lozada (20).
Wayne T. Davis is the current leading owner with 12 victories from his 27 starters. Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. and End Zone Athletics, Inc. are tied for second with seven wins each and Steve Asmussen has won six races.
Family Fun Day
Louisiana Downs is proud to host Family Fun Day, a family friendly event each Sunday from Noon -5:00 pm. Admission is free and in addition to the live Thoroughbred races, fans can enjoy delicacies from the best Food Trucks in the Bossier City/Shreveport Metroplex with family games and entertainment offered throughout the afternoon. Family Fun Day will be offered each Sunday through September 19.
Louisiana Downs Race Dates and Post Times
Live racing will be conducted Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 2:45 pm (Central)until the conclusion of the 2021 live season on Tuesday, September 21. For more information on the 84-day racing season and special events, visit https://www.caesars.com/harrahs-louisiana-downs/racing.