Without Jazz Fest, Turf Ready for Fair Grounds Meet

Jazz Fest annually leaves the Fair Grounds grass course in need of recovery.

The recent COVID-19-related cancellation of this fall’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival should leave full turf racing opportunities this fall and winter at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, according to Bernard Chatters, president of the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

Fair Grounds annually hosts the music festival, an event known as Jazz Fest, typically in the spring, drawing thousands onto its infield area and leaving its grass course in need of recovery. The event, a staple in New Orleans tourism, was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, and this year it was postponed until the fall before festival officials scrapped it Aug. 8, citing “exponential growth” of COVID-19 cases in the area. It is scheduled to resume next year from April 29-May 8.


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Speaktomeoflove wins the B-Connected Stakes at Delta Downs.

VINTON, LA. – Delta Downs kicked off its 2020-21 Thoroughbred season on Tuesday with a nine-race program that featured a thrilling edition of the $60,000 B Connected Stakes as well as an amazing feat by the  popular jockey/trainer tandem of Tim Thornton and Karl Broberg.


The wagering favorite in the B Connected Stakes was Scarlettsblackjack, who left the gate at odds of 1-2, but it was 14-1 longshot Speaktomeoflove who won the 13th running of the seven-furlong event for Louisiana-bred non-winners of a stakes race.


Speaktomeoflove’s victory came in dramatic fashion as the 3-year-old gelding came from just off the pace to get up by a head at the finish line over Jus Lively. Scarlettsblackjack finished another half-length behind the top pair in third.


Under jockey Joe Stokes, Speaktomeoflove got a perfect trip just behind Scarlettsblackjack, who set the fractional times of 23.50 seconds for the opening quarter mile, 47.76 for the half and 1:13.53 for three-quarters. Entering the homestretch Speaktomeoflove engaged Scarlettsblackjack and barely got in front before Jus Lively rallied stoutly and just missed in second. The winner covered the distance in a time of 1:27.25 over a fast track.


The win by Speaktomeoflove was his third straight and fourth from nine outs lifetime. He earned $36,000 for the victory and now has a career bankroll of $107,960.


Speaktomeoflove is a 3-year-old chestnut gelding by Run Away and Hide, out of the Proudest Romeo mare Awesome Truth. He was bred in Louisiana by his owner and trainer Benard Chatters.


Speaktomeoflove paid $30.20 to win, $12 to place and $5 to show. Jus Lively returned $8.40 to win and $4.80 to show. Scarlettsblackjack was worth $2.20 to show.


In other action, the team of trainer Karl Broberg and jockey Tim Thornton won five of the nine races on the opening day program. The pair teamed up to win the opener with End Zone ($3 to win), the second race with Snoose Goose ($4.80), the fifth with Flash of Mischief ($4.80), the sixth with Tiz One Fee ($6), and finally the seventh with Much Class ($10.40). Broberg has won each training title at Delta Downs since 2011 and Thornton is attempting to win his third riding title in a row at the Vinton, Louisiana oval.


Delta Downs will continue its opening week of racing on Wednesday with another nine-race card starting at 12:55 pm. The track will be dark on Thursday to observe Thanksgiving before closing out the week on Friday and Saturday, again with 12:55 pm first post times.


For more information about the current season visit the track’s website at Fans can also get information about the track through Facebook by visiting the page ‘Delta Downs Racing’. The track’s Twitter handle is @deltaracing.


Delta Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel, a property of Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE:BYD), features exciting casino action, live horse racing and fun dining experiences. Delta Downs is located in Vinton, Louisiana, on Delta Downs Drive. From Lake Charles, take Exit 7 and from Texas, take Exit 4.


LA Horsemen Plea to Commission for Emergency Stabling

By T. D. Thornton

In the aftermath of Hurricane Laura that devastated structures at Delta Downs last week, the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (LHBPA) made a written plea to the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) Sept. 2 asking for an emergency order to be handed down that would mandate “immediate access to stalls to stable at both Louisiana Downs and Fair Grounds.”

The request for stabling involves both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, and is complicated by meets for both breeds ending and starting within the same rough time frame at Louisiana’s four tracks. Additionally, the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic is making movement of people and horses difficult.

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Judge Sides With Louisiana Horsemen, Allows Training

Barring further legal action, training four days a week begins April 13.

The Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association announced April 9 that Louisiana District Court Judge Sharon Wilson has dissolved a temporary restraining order obtained by Boyd Gaming that resulted in no racehorse training at some state tracks.

Boyd Gaming, which owns Evangeline Downs and Delta Downs in Louisiana, had been allowing stabling at its facilities but not training, citing health concerns related to COVID-19 for staff, among other reasons. Louisiana Downs, owned by Harrah’s, another gaming company, also prohibited training recently.

Under the terms of the court decision and barring further legal action, training on a four-days-a-week basis begins April 13, said Benard Chatters, the president of the Louisiana HBPA and a trainer at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La. He estimated there are 500 horses stabled there who have been limited to walking since mid-March.

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Louisiana Horsemen Aim to Strengthen Aftercare Support

Lawmakers considering changes after stories showed Thoroughbreds in kill pens.


The Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association supports state legislation that would make changes to its aftercare program the organization believes will lead to greater participation.

Lawmakers are considering changes after stories and social media posts showed Thoroughbreds who had raced at Delta Downs in kill pens. Industry groups also are rallying to put additional safety nets in place.

The issues in Louisiana proved a timely topic for a panel on aftercare at the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association convention March 15 in New Orleans.

Louisiana HBPA president Benard Chatters said his organization supports the proposed legislation, which would have all horsemen participate in a program of financial support for aftercare that could be based on a per-start basis or a commitment from purse earnings. Chatters said the current Louisiana HBPA program allows horsemen to opt in to support aftercare, but he believes moving to a system where horsemen are in the program unless they opt out will see improved participation.

“If they’re already in the program, a lot of them won’t make the effort to opt out,” Chatters said, noting that there may not be full awareness of the current opt-in program.

Patrick Richmond, president of Louisiana Horse Rescue Association, said similar legislation has been proposed before, but he thinks the recent effort has a better chance of passing because of support from the Louisiana HBPA; Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs owner Boyd Gaming; state Quarter Horse breeders; and the racing commission. They expect support from the state’s other two track owners, Churchill Downs Inc. and Harrah’s.

Richmond said aftercare groups would like to see a commitment of $5 a start. Chatters said Louisiana HBPA might be more receptive to a plan that makes a commitment from purse earnings after a horse has won. Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance operations consultant Stacie Clark, who moderated the panel, said either type of approach can work.

Michele Rodriguez, founder and president of Elite Thoroughbreds and a board member of the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association, said Boyd will commit to matching funds by horsemen, and she’s certain CDI also will get on board.

Chatters noted, with the emergence of social media, a small percentage of horsemen not acting properly can endanger the sport.

“The largest percentage of trainers and owners are responsible,” Chatters said. “It only takes one person, or one horse. … Something happens in some remote corner of the state, and all of a sudden it’s all over the nation because of social media.”

Panel participants and National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback said that something as simple as improved communication between horsemen and aftercare facilities can make the difference for a horse.

“We have to make that connection and keep them together,” Hamelback said. “Aftercare needs to become part of your business plan.”

Jessica Hammond, program administrator of Maryland’s Beyond the Wire—a state aftercare initiative of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Maryland Jockey Club, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, and Maryland jockeys—encouraged horsemen from states without similar aftercare programs to take the initiative.

She said owners are contributing $11 a start, and it’s enjoyed about “99% participation.” She said jockeys will contribute about $60,000 this year. The program works with six TAA-accredited facilities.

“Just jump in. … You kind of just have to get the idea on how you want your program to run and just start it,” Hammond said. “You’re not going to have everything perfect from the get-go. You’re going to have to tweak things along the way, and that’s OK. There’s no reason for not starting.”

Hamelback emphasized that the stakes are high, and not having an aftercare plan in place is no longer acceptable.

“We have to educate people that there is a second chance after racing. We have to stop these horses from getting to the pen,” Hamelback said. “We need racetracks’ help, but we also need horsemen’s help when it comes to education.”

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