2021-22 STAKES SCHEDULE worth $7.795 MILLION
AS TRACK CELEBRATES 150th ANNIVERSARY
NEW ORLEANS (Tuesday, September 28, 2021) – In what will be a historic, 150th anniversary racing season, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced that 59 stakes worth a combined $7.795 million, up more than $600,000 from last season, will be offered during the 80-day, 2021-22 Thoroughbred meet, which is set to begin Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25.
“Fair Grounds Race Track is embedded in the history of New Orleans,” said Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots president Doug Shipley. “We have always been very proud to be part of such a great city and this year marks the 150th anniversary of our inaugural season. We are very excited to continue our growth and support of the Thoroughbred racing industry with our purse allocation and this year’s diverse and dynamic stakes schedule. Having not only the best fans, but also the best horsemen and jockeys from all around the world provides an unforgettable experience of high caliber racing at The Fair Grounds.”
The “Louisiana Derby Day” card on March 26 will feature eight stakes worth a total of $2.525 million, including the 109th running of the Grade II $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby for 3-year-olds. Run at 1 3/16ths miles for the second time last year, the Louisiana Derby, which is worth 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers, is the fourth and final local prep on the Road to the Grade I $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve to be run at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 7. Last year’s race winner Hot Rod Charlie, runner-up Midnight Bourbon, and Mandaloun, who finished sixth as the favorite, have all factored prominently in subsequent stakes events. Mandaloun finished second in the Kentucky Derby and later won the Grade I Haskell (via DQ). Hot Rod Charlie finished third in the Kentucky Derby, second in the Grade I Belmont and he recently won the Grace I Pennsylvania Derby over Midnight Bourbon, who was also the runner-up in the Grade I Preakness and the Grade I Travers.
Run at 1 1/16 miles, the 54th running of the Grade II $400,000 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks for 3-year-old fillies offers 100-40-20-10 en route to the Grade I $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks to be run at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 6. Last year’s winner Travel Column finished fifth in the Kentucky Oaks. Runner-up Clairiere, who recently won the Grade I Cotillion, was fourth in the Kentucky Oaks prior to consecutive placings in the Grade II Mother Goose (3rd), Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks (3rd) and Grade I Alabama (2nd). Third place finisher Souper Sensational has since won the Grade III Victory Ride and finished second in the Grade I Test and the Grade II Prioress. Obligatory followed up her fourth place run in the Fair Grounds Oaks with a win in the Grade II Eight Belles and a second in the Grade I Acorn and sixth place finisher Zaajel would later upset the Grade II Mother Goose.
“Fair Grounds has proven to be one of the premier winter racing destinations,” said Fair Grounds’ racing secretary Scott Jones. “Once again last year, the quality of horses who stabled or came through New Orleans have made a huge impact in premier stakes races all over the country. Adding the Gun Runner and the Untapable to our progressive schedule of 3-year-old races for both the boys and girls gives horsemen even more opportunity to develop their horses and compete for excellent purses.”
A pair of nine furlong, high-impact stakes for older horses are also scheduled on the Louisiana Derby Day program — the Grade II $500,000 New Orleans Classic (purse raised by $100,000) and the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Stakes, to be run over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. In addition, four undercard stakes are slated for the lucrative card, including the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass and a trio of Louisiana-bred events – the $75,000 Costa Rising Stakes, a 5½-furlong turf sprint, the $75,000 Crescent City Derby for 3-year-old males at 1 1/16 miles and the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks for females at 1 mile and 70 yards.
A pair of brand new 2-year-old stakes with Kentucky Derby and Oaks point implications (10-4-2-1) have been added to the Fair Grounds stakes schedule for the December 26 “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day” card. The $100,000 Gun Runner will be contested at 1 1/16ths miles and the $100,000 Untapable for fillies will be run over 1 mile 70 yards. Four supporting stakes, all for older horses, will also be offered – the $100,000 Tenacious Stakes ($25,000 purse increase) at 1 1/16ths miles, the $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf, the $75,000 Blushing K.D. for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf and the $75,000 Richie Scherer Memorial at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
On January 22, the “Road to the Derby Day presented by Hotel Monteleone” features a pair of key 3-year-old events — the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes, which was extended from a mile to 1 1/16 miles last season, and the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes for fillies at 1 mile and 70 yards. The top four finishers in each race receive 10-4-2-1 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks respectively.
Four stakes for older horses will also be presented on the January 22 program, including the $150,000 Louisiana Stakes, which was elevated to Grade III status last year and received another $25,000 purse increase for this year’s renewal, at 1 1/16 miles, the $100,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley Stakes at 1 1/16 miles over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, the $100,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf and the $100,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass.
On February 19, “Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln” features a pair of key 3-year-old stakes — the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln, which was extended from 1 1/16 to 1 1/8 miles two years ago, and the Grade II $300,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes presented by Fasig-Tipton, for fillies to be contested over 1 1/16 miles. The top four finishers receive 50-20-10-5 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks respectively. The Rachel Alexandra has produced the last two of the last four Kentucky Oaks winners in Monomoy Girl and Serengeti Empress and 2014 victress Untapable also took down the Run for the Lilies.
Four stakes for older horses will also be presented on the February 19 program — the Grade III $250,000 Mineshaft Stakes at 1 1/16 miles ($50,000 purse increase), the Grade III $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes at nine furlongs on turf, the $100,000 Colonel Power Stakes at 5½ furlongs on turf and the $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
Louisiana Champions Day presented by Acadian Ambulance will be held on December 11. With the races run over various divisions and distances on both dirt and turf, the program features ten stakes restricted to Louisiana-breds. Each Louisiana Champions Day stakes is worth $100,000 with the exception of the Louisiana Champions Day Classic, which carries a $150,000 purse.
In addition to the Gun Runner and the Untapable, Fair Grounds has added four other new stakes to the schedule: the Joseph R. Peluso Memorial Stakes, named for the longtime racing official who passed away in January, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf on November 25; the Bob Wright Memorial Stakes, named for the longtime chairman of the Louisiana Racing Commission, who passed away in March, for older horses at 1 1/16ths miles on turf on November 27; the Fred P. Aime Memorial Stakes, named for the New Orleans native and longtime jockey agent who passed away in December, for older fillies and mares at 5 ½ furlongs on turf on January 29; and the Page Cortez Stakes, named for the Louisiana senator, for older Louisiana-bred fillies and mares at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
For the second consecutive year, the purse for the opening day Thanksgiving Classic for older male sprinters has been increased $25,000 to $150,000.
The 80-day, 2021-2022 Fair Grounds racing season runs through Sunday, March 27. Regular post time will be 1:05 p.m. CT, but there will be an earlier noon CT first post on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25), Louisiana Champions Day (Dec. 11), Road to the Derby Kickoff Day (Dec. 26), Road to the Derby Day (Jan. 22) Louisiana Derby Preview Day (Feb. 19) and Louisiana Derby Day (March 26).