FORMER TRAINER, BILLY MCKEEVER, JR., KEEPS TRACK SURFACES IN TOP SHAPE AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Bossier City, LA – Billy McKeever, Jr. brings a unique skill set to his role as the highly-respected track superintendent at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

The 56-year-old was born in Shreveport and grew up in nearby Benton, Louisiana. His late father, Billy McKeever, Sr., was a very successful Louisiana-base trainer. McKeever followed that same path and trained  for six years, beginning in 2001, winning 59 races. His most prolific runner was Crowned King, who ran third in the 2003 Super Derby at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

In 2006, McKeever was evaluating the future of the Kentucky-bred Crowned King, who had won eight races and bankrolled over $580,000.

“He was six, and I was thinking it might be time to retire him,” recalled McKeever. “I started considering that maybe it was time for me to retire too.”

McKeever applied for the barn area supervisor job at Louisiana Downs and began in January, 2007. He worked closely with Brian Jabelmann, who was a consultant involved in the management of the track surfaces.

Jabelmann recommended McKeever for the job of track superintendent and he has held that position for the past 11 years.

McKeever is supported by a staff of 20 and each team member is fully committed to their assigned duties. Just one example is that two men have the first shift, beginning at 3:00 am to water the track before training begins at 6:00 am.

“Everybody in the department knows their job, but if we get five inches of rain, I don’t have to ask; the entire crew will be out there, opening additional weep holes and doing whatever has to be done to have the track ready for racing,” he explained.

To keep the Franks Turf Course green throughout one of the hottest summers in recent history was no easy feat. McKeever shared that he consulted with Scott Tolar of Evergreen Turf Solutions.

“This year we worked with Scott on a new fertilizer program, which really paid off,” said McKeever. “Of course, 28-30 loads of water each day was required, but the fertilizing program got us the best root I have seen.”

Another very important component of a safe track surface is creating the optimum composite for the main track. McKeever sends samples to Michael Depew, a respected “lab man” in Michigan.

Getting the correct mix of sand and clay is essential and the combination is different for the winter Quarter Horse meet versus the Thoroughbred meet, which runs from May through September.

McKeever is accessible to trainers, jockeys and track veterinarians and takes their feedback into account.

“Probably from training horses, I know that if I getting news about horses having joint or soft tissue injuries, changes might need to be made,” he added.

McKeever gives special thanks to the operations team at Louisiana Downs for approving the necessary funds to ensure safe track surfaces.

“Both Trent McIntosh, and now, Eric Halstrom have been incredibly supportive of spending money when needed,” stated McKeever. “I have gone to them explaining that we need to buy $75,000 worth of material and I get the necessary approval. To know they have the confidence in my judgement means a lot.”

Joey Foster, who is the current leading conditioner at Louisiana Downs, is one of many horsemen to give high marks to McKeever.

“Billy does an awesome job on both our dirt and turf tracks,” said Foster. “We have hardly had any rain, just a sprinkle during our hot summer, but the surfaces continue to be kind to our horses. Plus, we can go to Billy if we have concerns; he does a great job and is a very nice guy!”

And not that anyone would need further proof that horses are pretty important to McKeever, he shared that Crowned King, who is 19, is enjoying retirement on his farm in Benton!

 

 

Announcer John McGary Off to Zia Park This Week

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary will wrap up his duties in the booth on Wednesday, September 18. He will head to Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico to call the races for their 2019 live racing season which begins on Saturday, September 21. This will be the third season that McGary has traveled west to call their Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races.

Stepping in for the final four days of the meet will be Brian Arrigoni, who serves as the racing analyst at Canterbury Park. Five years ago, Arrigoni was a fan, attending the races at the popular Minnesota racetrack, and introduced himself to Eric Halstrom, who was their General Manager and now serves as Vice President of Operations at Louisiana Downs. Halstrom was impressed with Arrigoni’s love of racing and hired him. He serves as one of the track’s handicappers and hosts their paddock preview show with a variety of co-hosts, including track announcer Paul Allen. The popular Allen calls play-by-play for the Minnesota Vikings on KFAN and is the voice of the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network. When Allen’s NFL duties took him away from the booth, Arrigoni called the Canterbury Park races on August 18.

“This is a very exciting for me,” said Arrigoni, who will make his first visit to Louisiana.  “I am very grateful to Eric for hiring me at Canterbury and offering me the opportunity to call the final four days of the Louisiana Downs meet.”

The two Minnesota Vikings fans will reunite with Arrigoni stepping in beginning Saturday.

“I’m very familiar with Brian’s abilities and his enthusiasm and love of racing,” said Halstrom. “He will be a great replacement for John during the last week of our meet. It will be an excellent way for him to get some experience and exposure as well.”

 

Memorable Week for Jockey Emanuel Nieves

Last year’s leading rider Emanuel Nieves was injured in a spill on May 7 and just returned to action at the end of August.  On Wednesday, September 17, he won the sixth race aboard Mizztic Tale for trainer Joey Foster and finished second on Swift Shock in the final race of the afternoon. The 26-year-old native of Puerto Rico had little time to celebrate his comeback victory as he quickly departed for the for the hospital where his wife, Milyorie went into labor with the couple’s first child. Ian Emanuel was born early this morning and all three are doing well!

 

Trainer, Jock Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

As of September 18, Joey Foster leads his fellow conditioners with 53 wins this season topping.  Karl Broberg who has won 45 races. Beverly Burress has saddled 28 winners and  Jorge Lara andSteve Asmussen are tied for fourth with 19 wins each.

Carlos Lozada continues to lead the jockey standings with 91 wins holding off Joel Dominguez by three win Aubrie Green has won 50 races to move up to third in the standings and Richard Eramiarounds out the top four in the standings with 47 winning mounts.

 End Zone Athletics, Inc. has built an insurmountable lead in the quest for owner honors with 25 wins. Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. is second with 13 winners and Ronnie P. Ward follows with 11 victories and Indian Creek Thoroughbred Farms, LLC rounds out the top four owners with ten winners since the meet began on May 4.

 

Final Week of the 2019 Thoroughbred Meet

Live racing will be conducted Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday with a 3:15 p.m. (Central) post time through Wednesday, September 25.  The closing day of the season will include the presentation of the End of the Meet honors for the leading owner, trainer and jockey.

 

 

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.

 

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LIVE THOROUGHBRED RACING AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS GETS UNDERWAY ON SATURDAY, MAY 4

Opening Day Features Eight Races and the Simulcast of the 145th Kentucky Derby

 

Bossier City, LA – The 2019 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs commences on Saturday, May 4. A new post time has been set for each Saturday with live racing to begin at 12:55 pm (Central). The meet’s additional race days of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will get underway at 3:15 pm.

 

Opening day will feature plenty of action for racing fans and an entertaining day for families as well. Beginning at 11:00 am along the track apron, there will be a children’s area with free bounce houses, water slides, face painting and culinary delights from the most popular food trucks in Shreveport-Bossier City.  Of course, racing fans will also be able to watch and wager on the  145th Kentucky Derby and each of the stakes races from Churchill Downs.

 

Track announcer John McGary and his guest, Jimmy “The Dee”, will conduct a pre-race handicapping seminar at The Inside Rail at 11:55 am. They will offer analysis of Saturday’s eight live races at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs as well as their insights on the Kentucky Derby.

 

Saturday will also mark the final day of the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest which got underway at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs on January 19. Fans were able to make selections on major stakes races as well as the key Kentucky Derby prep races. Each participant earned points and following this Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, the winner will be awarded the $1,000 grand prize.

 

“The response from our horseplayers for this contest has been exceptional,” said Eric Halstrom, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Vice President of Operations. “We appreciate the loyalty of our local race fans and look forward to kicking off the 2019 Thoroughbred racing season with our  opening day festivities, live racing, and of course, the simulcast of the Kentucky Derby.”

 

Trainers To Watch

Karl Broberg, who won the 2018 training title here with 36 wins, returns with a full barn. Last December, he became just the third Thoroughbred trainer in North America to win 500 races in a calendar year. Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen and Scott Lake were the only other horsemen to accomplish that feat.  Heading into May of this year, Broberg is the leading trainer, by wins, according to Equibase statistics.

 

Joey Foster of Vinton, Louisiana, who was the leading conditioner in 2016 and 2017,  Al Stall, Jr., Beverly Burress, H. B. Johnson,  James Hodges, Scott Gelner, Patti Turner, Jorge Gomez, Ronnie Ward, and Danny Pish will also be prominent throughout the meet.

 

“We thank our many returning horsemen for their support of our Thoroughbred meet,” said David Heitzmann, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Director of Racing. “While our Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby always receives tremendous attention, we are also committed to carding plenty of races for accredited Louisiana-breds on both our main track and Franks Turf Course.”

 

Leading Rider Emanuel Nieves Hoping for A Second Title

Jockey Emanuel Nieves  won the first leading rider title of his career last September when he made 85 trips to the winner’s circle.  The hard-working and affable young man is eager to replicate his success at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs when the meet begins on Saturday.

 

Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, a municipality south of San Juan, the 26-year-old Nieves attended Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocational Hipica, the famed jockey school that also produced the sensational Ortiz brothers, Irad and Jose.

 

Two years ago, Nieves got the call from respected former rider and jockey agent Ronald Ardoin encouraging him to come to Louisiana Downs.

 

Nieves appreciates the hard work of his agent in getting him quality mounts. He rides for a multitude of trainers including Joey Foster, Al Stall, Jr., H. B. Johnson and Joe Duhon

 

“Every day he shows up at the barn, even on his days off.” explained Foster. “He has an excellent work ethic; he’s polite and very professional.”

 

Following last year’s meet at Louisiana Downs, Nieves made a trip to Puerto Rico to see his family and had an opportunity to ride several races at Hipodromo Camarero.

 

“Riding in Puerto Rico was very special for me,” he explained. “Plus, it is always wonderful to visit my family.”

 

And on that topic, Nieves proudly announced that he will become a father in October when he and his girlfriend of four years, Milyorie Marie, will welcome their first child, a son!

 

For now, his mindset is on arriving early each morning in the barn area, working horses for each of his clients and winning races four afternoons a week.

 

“I believe in working hard everyday and doing my best for the horsemen who I ride for,” stated Nieves. “I want to win the title here again!”

 

Nieves will have plenty of competition as the 2019 jockey colony will include Gerardo Mora, Aubrie Green, Larry Taylor, Erica Murray, Eguard Tejera, Hector Del-Cid and Jose Guerrero as the meet gets underway.

 

2019 Thoroughbred Stakes Schedule

The 84-day meet will include 14 stakes highlighted by two major stakes programs, Louisiana Cup Day on Saturday, August 3 and Super Derby Day on Saturday, September 7.

 

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs 2019 Stakes Schedule

Saturday, August 3                           Louisiana Cup Day               Noms close July 20

$50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile                    2 YO LA-Bred                        Six furlongs

$50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies          2 YO Fillies LA-Bred             Six furlongs

$50,000 Louisiana Cup Filly & Mare Sprint  3 YO & Up F&M, LA-Bred  Six furlongs

$50,000 Louisiana Cup Sprint                        3 YO & Up LA-Bred              Six furlongs

$50,000 Louisiana Cup Turf Classic              3 YO & Up LA-Bred              1 1/16 miles (T)

$50,000 Louisiana Distaff                              3 YO & Up F & M LA-Bred  1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 Super Derby Prelude                         3 Y0                                        1 1/16 miles

 

Saturday, September 7                     Super Derby Day                  Noms close August 24

$60,000 Frank L. Brothers                              3 YO & Up                             1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 River Cities                                       3 YO & Up F&M                    1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 Happy Ticket                                    2 YO Fillies                             One Mile (T)

$60,000 Sunday Silence                                 2 YO                                       One Mile (T) $300,000 SUPER DERBY (G3)              3 YO                                       1 1/16 miles

$60,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin                             3 YO LA-Bred                        One Mile (T)

$60,000 Elge Rasberry                                   3 YO Fillies, LA-Bred            One Mile (T)

 

To see a complete list of the stakes schedule, including nominations, click here.

 

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Special Events

145th Kentucky Derby                                                         Saturday, May 4

Watch and wager on the most anticipated race of the year from Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, all while sipping on a Mint Julep and donning your favorite derby! Post time for the race is 5:50pm (CST). And if you are looking for a great place to dine while watching all of the live racing action, Harrah’s Club has an All You Can Eat Buffet offering for just $29.99 per person ($39.99 on special race days). Harrah’s Club will be open on Saturdays May-September from 12pm until 6pm. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling 318-752-6367.

 

Mother’s Day Diamond Dig                                                Saturday, May 11

Mothers can swipe their Caesars Rewards card to be entered in to the Diamond Dig drawing at the Racing Kiosk located across from Racing Publications. 10 Moms will be drawn for a chance to dig on the racetrack for a Diamond Ring valued at $2,500! One Mom will walk away with new bling and nine others will walk away with a Cubic Zirconia Ring. The Mother’s Day Diamond Dig is scheduled to take place between the 5th & 6th race of the day. First Post Time 12:55 pm.

 

Preakness Stakes Family Fun Day                                      Saturday, May 18     

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is the place to be to watch and wager on the live racing action at Pimlico and Preakness 144 as the quest for the Triple Crown continues. Enjoy family fun on the apron including food trucks, inflatables, face painting and the thrill of live racing action. First Post Time 12:55pm Preakness Stakes Post Time: 5:20pm (CST).

 

Memorial Day Pig Races and Family Fun Day                 Monday, May 27

Don’t miss these wacky races as these high flying little porkers race to the finish line. The Pig Races will take place between post times for the Memorial Day Race Card. There will also be a Petting Zoo for children and a kid’s area with bounce houses and water slides. Face painting is available for purchase. Eat up as food trucks serve up great local bites. First Post Time 3:15 pm.

 

For more information on the upcoming racing season and special events, click here.

 

Daily Racing Promotions and Daily Offers

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs welcomes patrons four days a week for live racing and daily simulcast wagering on racetracks across the country. Promotions and food and beverage specials include:

 

Mobile Mondays | Enjoying the races? Check-in on the Caesars Rewards app from your smart phone to receive an entry into the weekly “Day at the Races” drawing. Winner will receive a dining experience for two to the Harrah’s Club (max value of $100).

 

2X Tuesdays | Present your Caesars Rewards card when making a wager and receive a 2X racing reward credit multiplier each Tuesday.

 

Watch & Wager Wednesdays | Enjoy hotdogs, popcorn, beer and racing programs for only $1.00!

 

$5.00 Free Bet | Saturdays, May 4 & 18 |Opt in and receive a ticket at the Racing Kiosks between 11am and 5pm. Saturdays, May 11 & 25| Redeem your Free Bet at the Mutuel Counter.

 

Super Saturdays| Race to more Rewards by presenting your Caesars Rewards card when making a wager and receive up to a 7X Racing Reward Credit Multiplier.

 

Saturday Pick 4 Family Day| Enjoy a box seat for 4 with food and drinks for only $16 on select Saturdays.

 

Bet & Earn| Check out Harrah’s new Bet & Earn offered through Racing by Caesars Rewards. Guests wagering using a Caesars Rewards card will now receive one Tier Credit and one Reward Credit on a three dollar bet.

 

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.

 

 

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THE 2018 THOROUGHBRED RACING MEET AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS WRAPPED ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

Emanuel Nieves, Karl Broberg and End Zone Athletics, Inc. Earn Titles

 

Bossier City, LA – The 2018 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs concluded on Wednesday, September 26.  The 84-day meet, which got underway on May 5, offered live cards on its Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday racing schedule.

 

Both major racing events, Louisiana Cup Day on Saturday, August 4 and Super Derby Day, featured excellent fields and were well received by both horsemen and horseplayers here and across the country. Limation, winner of the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, will run in Sunday’s Grade 3, $400,000 Remington Park Derby.

 

Louisiana Downs handled $64,565,651 throughout the meet, versus $67,290,466 in the 2017 live Thoroughbred racing season. While there was a decline of 4% in total handle, there were several positives, including an increase of 12% on Super Derby Day with horseplayers wagering $1,943,318 million this year, versus $1,737,269 in 2017.  With carryovers on both the Pick 5 and Pick 6 wagers the handle on the final day of the meet was the largest at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs since the 2016 Super Derby. Also,an increase of 3.2% was noted on handle per race, with an average of $109,619 wagered per race this year, compared to $106,136 last year.

 

“We are encouraged by the increase in our per race handle and the momentum that we saw at the end of the meet, highlighted by the very strong closing day handle, “said Eric Halstrom, Director of Operations. “It remains difficult to attract horses to Northwest Louisiana, and the reduction in the number of races we ran in 2018 is a reflection of that. We will work hard in the months to come to build momentum with both horsemen and patrons for our 2019 live racing season. ”

 

 

Emanuel Nieves Wins His First Louisiana Downs Leading Rider Title

Emanuel Nieves had an exceptional season, topping a very competitive jockey colony to claim his first ever leading rider title. The 25-year-old native of Puerto Rico finished the meet with a record of 420 starts, 85 wins, 76 seconds and 70 thirds and purses of $1,074,804.

 

Nieves began riding in 2012, and has ridden in each of the four Louisiana racetracks for the past six years. He finished sixth in the standings last year, but his business grew significantly in 2018 due to the allegiance of many horsemen and his agent, Ronald Ardoin, who was one of the most successful jockeys in Louisiana.

 

“He’s won over 5,000 races,” said Nieves. ““Ronald has such good relationships with horsemen and has helped me so much.”

 

In the money at a very respectable 55% clip,, Nieves’ lone stakes win this season was aboard Cabo’s Rumor owned by Northpointe Thoroughbreds in the $60,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile on August 4.

 

Cabo’s Rumor is trained by Steve Duke, and Nieves had tremendous backing from a multitude of horsemen including Joey Foster, Al Stall, Jr., Karl Broberg, H. B. Johnson, Joe Duhon, Beverly Burress, Jose Camejo, Sarah Delany, Joe McKellar, Ray Shumake, Tommy Ives, Jody Hodges and Michael McEachern.

 

“I could not have gotten this far without the support of so many great horsemen,” said Nieves. “I work hard every day and am very thankful the opportunity to ride so many good horses.”

 

He finished the meet with tremendous confidence, piloting six winners this week, including his 500th career victory aboard Princesa Pomasane on Monday’s card.

 

Next up for Nieves is Delta Downs for their meet which gets underway on October 17. But first he will make a trip to Puerto Rico, where he rides three races Friday at Hipodromo Camarero.

 

“It will be a wonderful trip home,” stated Nieves. “I’ll ride on Friday, but Saturday there will be a big party with family and friends! Then back to Louisiana where I will work horses at Delta Downs on Wednesday!”

 

It was also a very successful season for Gerardo Mora, who finished second with 67 trips to the winner’s circle. Mora, who is also represented by Ardoin, was last year’s leading rider. Joel Dominguez won 66 races to finish a close third in the standings, followed by Jose Guerrero, who piloted 43 winners.

 

 

Karl Broberg Honored as Leading Trainer

Karl Broberg added another title to his fast growing list, winning 31 races from 101 starters to top his fellow conditioners this meet.

This showing caps his dominant year in Louisiana, when he began the year with 83 wins at Delta Downs to capture his seventh consecutive leading trainer award. On August 28, he picked up his eighth training title at Evangeline Downs with 59 wins from 190 starters.

This was the second leading trainer title at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs for Broberg, who has been training since 2009, and is currently ranked eighth in win on the Equibase North American trainer list.

“I’m shocked that we were able to win the title here,” said Broberg. “We sent in a few horses and had some success, so added a few more. While many of the horses were owned by End Zone Athletics, Inc., I was blessed with some quality owners this meet, for which I am thankful.”

Broberg, who is prominent at several racetracks in the region, acknowledged the hard work of assistant trainer, Kevin Martin, who ran the Louisiana Downs string.

“Maybe his worst attribute is that he is so well-liked,” quipped Broberg. “Our “good cop-bad cop” continues to work well!”

Joey Foster, who won the training title last year, finished second with 26 wins. Al Stall, Jr. won 22 races this meet and H. B. Johnson, Beverly Burress and Jorge Lara each saddled 18 winners.

 

Leading Owner Title Goes to End Zone Athletics, Inc.

The very tight battle for leading owner honors concluded on Tuesday afternoon when End Zone Athletics, Inc. won with Sun And Sand to clinch the title.

 

The highly successful partnership of Karl Broberg and Matt Johanson has reigned supreme on a national level and in the Texas-Louisiana region for many years and won 15 races this meet to earn leading owner honors.

 

End Zone Athletics, Inc. has led the nation in wins for the last three years, and currently tops all North American owners, according to Equibase, in 2018. They won the title at Delta Downs earlier this year for the sixth time in the last seven years. They also won leading owner honors earlier this year at Sam Houston Race Park. Since 2007, End Zone Athletics, Inc. has started 4,195 Thoroughbreds, winning 1,110 races and earnings of $14.573,256.

 

“Matt and I have been partners since we were roommates in college,” said Broberg. “We have had tremendous success in the claiming game.”

 

Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. followed closely with 14 wins and horses owned by Patti Turner made 13 trips to the winner’s circle. Indian Creek Thoroughbred Farms, LLC was fourth with ten wins and Beverly Burress won nine races in the 2018 Thoroughbred meet.

 

Training and Stall Space Offered to Horsemen Beginning November 15

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is pleased to offer horsemen an opportunity to train and stable their Thoroughbreds during the upcoming Fall and Winter months.

 

With the recent closing of the Evangeline Training Center, officials acknowledge that many Louisiana Thoroughbred trainers are in need of a facility to stable and train their racehorses.  Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is now accepting stall applications to accommodate horsemen from November 15 – March 19.

 

The track will be open for training six days a week with full amenities including a clocker, outrider and ambulance service.  Security in the stable area will be provided 24 hours a day, seven days each week. Located in the Bossier City-Shreveport metroplex, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is located in convenient proximity for shipping to Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana; Fair Grounds in New Orleans and the upcoming live season at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

 

Space and availability for Thoroughbreds is limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Horsemen are encouraged to contact David Heitzmann, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Director of Racing at (318) 741-2511 or (318) 741-2512 for rates and information.

 

 

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.

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OWNER STATON FLURRY HAS A SPECIAL PLACE IN HIS HEART FOR HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Flurry and Tor Con Six
Staton Flurry and Tor Con Six. Hodges Photography.

Bossier City, LA – Thoroughbred owner Staton Flurry will never forget winning the 2017 Super Derby at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs with Mr. Misunderstood.

 

Last September, the marquee stakes for 3-year-olds was run on the Franks Turf Course at the distance of a mile and one-sixteenth. Trained by Brad Cox, the gelded son of Archarcharch, shipped in undefeated on the turf, and punched his ticket to the Super Derby with a win in the $60,000 Prelude, which was also run on the turf in 2017.

 

Flurry, 28, is a passionate Thoroughbred owner from Hot Springs, Arkansas. His family’s Flurry Racing Stables, LLC has campaigned a quality group of stakes winners at Oaklawn Park and Louisiana Downs. . Flurry’s first stakes winner Little Miss Flurry captured the 2014 Razorback Futurity. But Mr. Misunderstood has vaulted to the top of the ladder with an incredible record of 11 wins from 19 starts. Since winning the Super Derby, the dark bay gelding won five stakes including the Grade 2 Wise Dan at Churchill Downs. Purchased for $130,000, he currently boasts earnings of $707,854.

 

Flurry made the trip back to Louisiana Downs this week to see three of his horses who are trained by Karl Broberg.  On Monday afternoon, Tor Con Six, a 4-year-old son of Half Ours ran in a starter optional claiming sprint, and despite coming into the race off three wins, struggled and finished fifth.

 

“That was a little disappointing as he had been doing great,” said Flurry. “His rider (Gerardo Mora) said he just spit the bit.”

 

Tuesday it was Golden Driller in the second, a $21,000 maiden at six and one-half furlongs. The 3-year-old by Caleb’s Posse was injured last October at Remington Park. Flurry sent him to Louisiana Downs last month and looked forward to a solid return off the layoff. With Mora aboard, he caught the leader Three Time Charmer, briefly took the lead, before losing by a nose.

 

Wednesday marks the debut of Mathieu, a 2-year-old Louisiana-bred son of Custom For Carlos, out of the Vindication mare Laughing Saint. He has posted several solid works for the six furlong main track event and will be ridden by  Jose Guererro.

 

“We’ve babied him along,” said Flurry. “He has settled down since being gelded and I have come over to see a few of his works, and am looking forward to watching him run on Wednesday.”

 

Flurry debated on several names for the 2-year-old, finally settling on Mathieu in honor of Louisiana native Tyrann Mathieu, an All American football player. He played for LSU and is now a safety for the Houston Texans.

 

Next up for Mr. Misunderstood is the $1,000,000 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland on October 6 with the Grade 1, Breeders’ Cup Mile on the radar for Flurry and Cox.

 

“Winning the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs was a cool starting spot for Mr. Misunderstood,” stated Flurry. “We thought we really might have something, but to think that he may be two races away from earning a million dollars is pretty amazing.”

 

Memorial Service for Trainer Dana Whited Set for Saturday, September 22

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is saddened to confirm the passing of trainer Dana Whited. Her sister, Gina Nagy Wilson confirmed that Whited died on Friday, September 14 from heart failure.

 

The 52 year-old horsewoman was born in Dodge City, Kansas and has been a respected member of the Louisiana racing industry since 2012. According to Equibase statistics, Whited saddled 851 horses, with a record of  94 win; 107seconds and 102 thirds. She won 18 races this year on the Louisiana circuit.

 

A memorial service will be held in the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs winner’s circle this Saturday, September 22 at 7:00 pm. The public is invited to pay their respects.

 

“Dana was so much more than a trainer; she was a friend to everyone,” said Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk. “This was a shock for our racing community as Dana looked out for so many people and served as a mentor to anyone she could help.  She will be greatly missed.”

 

Announcer John McGary Off to Zia Park This Week

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary will wrap up his duties in the booth on Wednesday, September 19. He will head to Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico to call the races for their 2018 live racing season which begins on Saturday, September 22.

 

Announcer Mike Persichino will fill in for McGary for the final four days of the meet. He began calling races in 1999 with appearances in Utah, Arizona, California and Oregon. Persichino has been the voice of Wyoming Downs since 2014 and called the final two weeks of the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred meet last September.

 

Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

As of September 18, Karl Broberg tops the trainer standings with 25 wins. Last year’s leading trainer, Joey Foster follows closely with 24 winners and horses trained by Al Stall, Jr. have won 22 races.  Jorge Lara, Beverly Burress, Jose Camejo and Danny Pish have each saddled 17 winners this meet.

 

Emanuel Nieves won eight races last week and continues to lead the rider standings with 75 wins. Last year’s leading jockey Gerardo Mora has been steadily making his way up the ladder and is now in second place with 65 victories. Joel Dominguez is third with 64 trips to the winner’s circle and Hector Del-Cid and Jose Guererro have each won 40 races.

 

Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. and End Zone Athletics, Inc. are tied for leading owner honors with 14 wins. Patti Turner is next with 12 victories and Beverly Burress and Indian Creek Thoroughbred Farms, LLC follow with nine wins each.

 

The winners of each division will be honored on Wednesday, September 26, which is the final day of the 2018 Thoroughbred racing season.

 

Diego Saenz Approaching his 2,000th Career Win

Jockey Diego Saenz is just 9 wins away from his 2,000th career victory. The 39-year-old rider won one race on the Monday, September 17thcard, piloting My Prophet for trainer Eduardo Ramirez.

Saenz is named on 15 horses this week. Once the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs meet wraps, he will head to Delta Downs when their meet opens October 17. He has won four leading rider titles at the Vinton, Louisiana racetrack.

 

Wednesday and Saturday Race Day Promotions

Louisiana Downs offers value for racing fans each Wednesday with Dollar Day. They will be able to enjoy $1 hot dogs, $1 beer at the Paddock as well as $1 programs. Saturday’s weekly promotion is the Family Four Pack featuring four hot dogs, four sodas, a program, and a box seat for four at the affordable price of just $16.

 

The Total Rewards program is free for horseplayers. With the swipe of their card each Saturday, members will receive valuable incentives.  These include:

  • Play $250 or more to receive a 5X multiplier
  • Play $1,000 or more to receive a 7X multiplier
  • Play $5,000 or more to receive a 10X multiplier

Participant’s multiplier cannot exceed a total balance of more than one hundred thousand (100,000) Reward Credits during one promotional day after the multiplier is applied.

 

Post Times and Stakes Schedule

Live racing will be conducted Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday with a 3:15 p.m. (Central) post time through Wednesday, September 26.

 

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.

 

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JOCKEY EMANUEL NIEVES SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Native of Puerto Rico in Pursuit of His First Leading Rider Title

 

Bossier City, LA – Emanuel Nieves is a young rider with a tremendous work ethic coupled with plenty of skill in the saddle. He is 25-years-old, but many people mistake him for a teenager. However, he is quietly earning the respect of many horsemen and horseplayers in Louisiana with his versatile riding style and well-timed finishes.

 

Born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, a municipality south of San Juan, Nieves had an opportunity to attend Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocational Hipica, the famed jockey school with a noted list of graduates that have reached the top ranks in North America.

 

“It is a two-year program and I was there at the same time as Jose Ortiz,” said Nieves. “His brother Irad was there the year before and I got to know them both. They are really good people.”

 

In 2012, Nieves made his United States debut at Finger Lakes in New York. He rode his first winner on December 5, guiding Wachiwi to victory in a $9,000 claiming race. Louisiana-based agent Angel Cordero called him and offered to take his book at Delta Downs, so he headed south and has ridden at each of the four Louisiana racetracks in the past six years.

 

Last year, Nieves got the call from respected former rider and jockey agent Ronald Ardoin encouraging him to come to Louisiana Downs.

 

“I was doing well at Evangeline Downs, and still ride there on my days off,” said Nieves. “Ronald has such good relationships with horsemen, I felt it would be a good move.”

 

Last year, Nieves won 47 races, finishing sixth in the standings. He is the current leading jockey with 56 wins, seven more than last year’s top rider, Gerardo Mora.

 

Nieves has not had a slew of stakes wins at Louisiana Downs, but scored with Sunny Oak last year in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

 

Two weeks ago, he guided Cabo’s Rumor owned by Northpointe Thoroughbreds to victory in the $60,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenilefor Louisiana-bred 2-year-old colts and geldings.   The son of Amanecer de Oro ran fourth to the highly regarded Pickett in the D S Shine Futurity last month at Evangeline Downs and Nieves felt he and his mount learned from that stakes foray.

 

“He’s a pretty nice baby,” stated Nieves. “He didn’t like the dirt hitting him at Evangeline, so in the Louisiana Downs stakes, I tried to keep him clear of the field. At the 3/8th pole, I asked him and he responded perfectly.”

 

Nieves appreciates the hard work of his agent in getting him an abundance of quality mounts. He rides for a multitude of trainers including Joey Foster, Al Stall, Jr., Karl Broberg, H. B. Johnson, Joe Duhon, Beverly Burress, Jose Camejo, Sarah Delany, Tommy Ives and Michael McEachern.

 

On Monday’s card, Nieves rode three winners for three different barns, including a game victory in the fourth aboard Pickett’s Deelite ($17.60) for trainer Joey Foster.

 

Foster knows Nieves well and is a prominent supporter of the young rider.

 

“Every day he shows up at the barn, even on his days off.” explained Foster. “He has an excellent work ethic; he’s polite and very professional.”

 

This would be the first leading rider title for Nieves, and Foster is optimistic that it will come to fruition.

 

“He deserves it,” said Foster. “Emanuel might look like a kid, but sure doesn’t act like one. This is what he loves to do; we would all be happy to see him become the leading rider.”

 

With the Louisiana Downs meet continuing through September 27, Nieves is not over confident, but hopeful that he will win the first title of his career.

 

“It would be amazing and mean a lot,” said Nieves. “I could not have gotten this far without the support of a great team behind me. I work hard every day and am very thankful the opportunity to ride so many good horses.”

 

Nieves remains close to both Ortiz brothers and cites John Velazquez as another jockey he respects. Jose Ortiz, currently the #1 ranked rider in earnings, according to Equibase statistics, took time from his base in Saratoga to compliment Nieves.

 

“Emanuel is a great person and after two years at the Jockey School, he is like a brother to me,” said Ortiz. “He always wanted to help others and I am very proud of him!”

 

Noon Post Time Set for Super Derby Day

The Louisiana Downs racing office is preparing for their next big stakes day on Sunday, September 2. An early post time of 12:00 pm(Central) is planned for the Super Derby card. Nominations close on August 18 for the seven stakes, which include:

 

$60,000 Unbridled                                          3 YO & Up                             1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 River Cities                                       3 YO & Up F&M                    1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 Happy Ticket                                    2 YO Fillies                             One Mile (T)

$60,000 Sunday Silence                                 2 YO                                       One Mile (T)

$300,000 SUPER DERBY (G3)

 

3 YO                                       1 1/16 miles

$60,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin                             3 YO LA-Bred                        One Mile (T)

$60,000 Elge Rasberry                                   3 YO Fillies, LA-Bred            One Mile (T)

 

 

Super Derby Charity Golf Tournament Set for August 23

The Super Derby Charity Golf Tournament will be held on Thursday, August 23, at Querbes Golf Course in Shreveport, Louisiana.

 

The event will benefit Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk & The Winner’s Circle Church, which provides assistance to the Louisiana racing community and backstretch workers. It serves as one of the special events saluting the annual Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby, the marquee race of the Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred season, set for Sunday, September 2.

 

Sign in for the event’s Four Person Scramble kicks off at 10:00 a.m. with tee off at 10:30 a.m.  The fee is $80 per person or $320 for a four-person team.  The fee includes green fees, golf cart, lunch, and Super Derby t-shirt/cap.

 

Attendees can register in person in the Louisiana Downs Racing office, or by mail. Checks should be payable to The Backside Benevolence Fund and mailed to:  Jennifer Sokol, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, 8000 East Texas Street, Bossier City, Louisiana, 71111.

 

The deadline for registration is August 16. Hole sponsorships for $100, including a sign, are available, but must be purchased by August 1.

 

For further information, please contact Jennifer Sokol, Louisiana Downs Racing Office Manager at (318) 741-2512.

 

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.

 

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