Live Racing Season Concluded on Tuesday, September 12
Bossier City, LA – The 50th anniversary of live racing at Louisiana Downs concluded on Tuesday, September 12 with plenty of racing highlights and fan-friendly events throughout the 61-day meet.
On September 2, Louisiana Downs proudly hosted Super Derby 41, presented by Lip Chip LLC and a bright future seems certain for winner Big Data owned by Petal Power Racing Stable and trained by Michael Lerman. It was another successful edition of Louisiana Cup Day on August 12 with young trainer Jayde Gelner winning two of the six Louisiana-bred stakes.
“My thanks go out to our amazing team and the owners, trainers, jockeys and backstretch workers who deserve so much credit,” said Kevin Preston, Louisiana Downs owner and president. “It was my goal two years ago to make Louisiana Downs a quality racetrack and premier entertainment destination. We continue to set the bar higher and thank our fans for their support!”
The meet leaders, jockey Jose Guerrero, trainer Shane Wilson and owner Wayne T. Davis were honored for their accomplishments on the final afternoon of the racing season which began on Saturday, May 6.
Jose Guerrero Wins His First Leading Rider Title
A very competitive jockey colony dueled from opening day, but there was no denying Jose Guerrero who topped his fellow riders to earn his first leading rider title with 70 wins. He finished second in the standings last year, but with the support of leading conditioner Shane Wilson and many other trainers, he was able to draw clear in the final two weeks of the meet.
Wilson saw talent in the 28-year-old native of Mexico, since he began riding in Louisiana. He admired his ability to boot home longshots and asked Guerrero if he knew the difference between being a jockey and a skilled race rider. They sat down and watched countless videos and Guerrero impressed Wilson with his desire to learn and improve his craft.
“Now, I watch the replays on my own, and Shane and I have a brief talk in the paddock before the races,” explained Guerrero. “He has given me a lot of confidence. I thank him and all my trainers, including Patti Turner as well as Jonas Gibson, who I began riding for this year.”
Guerrero is represented by agent Steve Melancon, completed the season with a record of 70 wins from 336 starts and purses totaling $1,189,553. He will ride next at Delta Downs and Fair Grounds as the year progresses.
Joel Dominguez, who was the top-ranked rider in 2020, battled gamely with Guerrero to lock up second place this year with 53 trips to the winner’s circle. Emanuel Nieves won 49 races to finish third and Angel Suarez, finished fourth with 39 victories. Suarez, who was new to the jockey colony this season, is married to fellow rider Aubrie Green. Both were very popular with trainers and horseplayers.
Threepeat for Leading Trainer Shane Wilson
It was another excellent showing for Shane Wilson who won his third leading trainer title at Louisiana Downs.
The Haughton, Louisiana resident started 210 Thoroughbreds, winning 45 races. He added 33 runner-up finishes and 25 thirds with earnings of $861,315 for the meet. In similar style to the past two seasons, he arrived with a strong group of claimers, who were ready to step up to the allowance level. Despite running less dates than 2022, Wilson was pleased with the barn’s results.
“It was a very good meet in spite of the heat,” said Wilson. “We appreciate the efforts of Louisiana Downs. Moving the post time later was good so we were not competing with the East coast tracks. Our horses are sound; (track superintendent) Billy McKeever does a great job.”
Of course, Wilson is grateful to his owners, including Wayne T. Davis, Jim and Kathy Reeves, Kevin Fontenot, Phyllis Presswood and Joe Hackler, who was his first client in 1998.
“To win races for Joe Hackler means a lot as he was the first owner to give me an opportunity,” added Wilson. “Evelyn Benoit joined us this year. Wayne Davis has been so loyal and at 94 years-old, he has told me this might be his last year as an owner. We were two ahead going into the final day and were able to stay on top. So happy that Wayne could get another title!”
It’s a family affair at the Wilson barn, with his wife Becky and younger son, Connor, sharing in the key duties. His oldest son, Peyton, is an honors engineering student at LSU.
Wilson already has a string at Remington Park and will run at Fair Grounds in New Orleans for their 2023-2024 live racing season.
Joey Foster, who has won the Louisiana Downs trainer title three times, finished second with 23 victories. Steve Asmussen won 21 races and Joe O. Duhon rounded out the top four conditioners with 16 wins.
Leading Owner Title Goes to Wayne T. Davis
Wayne T. Davis claimed his second leading owner title with 14 wins this season at Louisiana Downs. The 94-year-old from Plain Dealing, Louisiana, has formed a close association with Shane Wilson and was on hand for the final day of the 2023 meet.
“It’s not like I am the owner and Shane is the trainer,” said Davis. “We are part of a family and that’s what makes running horses so special!”
Davis, who also won the 2021 title, finished second last year. He was pleased to accept the trophy, accompanied by Shane, Becky and Connor Wilson.
“Good people and nice horses,” added Davis. “You can’t ask for anything more!”
L and G Racing Stable finished second with 12 wins, followed by Jonas Gibson, who won ten races, and Danny R. Caldwell with 8 winners.
Henry B. Johnson, Jr. Finishes the Season One Shy of his 1000th Milestone
Trainer Henry B. Johnson, Jr. had been in the hunt for his 1,000th career win this summer at Louisiana Downs. He had three horses entered on the final card, with one runner-up finish and two thirds. Born in Louisiana and a strong supporter of Louisiana Downs for four decades, Johnson, 82, ran 45 horses this season with six wins, five seconds and nine third-place finishes.
“It was close,” said Johnson. “After Lone Star finished, we had some deep fields and it got very competitive. I’ll go to Delta Downs next and also have some decent Texas-breds and plan on running at Sam Houston Race Park in January.”
“We thank our horsemen for their support throughout the meet,” said Matt Crawford, Louisiana Downs Racing Secretary. “It was one of the hottest summers ever, which was certainly taxing for both horses and humans. We applaud the efforts of each and every trainer and wish them continued success for the remainder of the year.”
About Louisiana Downs
Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and is now owned by Rubico Acquisition Corporation. 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.
Photos courtesy of Ann Switalski Photography