TRAINER FRANKIE BROTHERS REFLECTS ON THE IMPACT OF HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS ON HIS STORIED CAREER

Will be Honored with the Frank L. Brothers Stake on the September 7th Super Derby Card

 

Bossier City, LA – Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will present Super Derby 40 on Saturday, September 7. The marquee event of the 2019 Thoroughbred meet will feature seven stakes, highlighted by the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby.

Frankie Brothers
Frank L. Brothers. Photo courtesy of Donna Barton Brothers.

However, one other noteworthy feature will be the inaugural running of the $60,000
Frank L. Brothers
stakes.  The mile and one-sixteenth turf contest was renamed this year to play tribute to the esteemed Louisiana native and conditioner who won a record nine training titles at Louisiana Downs.

“Frankie” as he is known in the industry, grew up in New Orleans.

“My father was an electrician and we had a family tradition of attending the races at Fair Grounds on Thanksgiving Day and then going home for dinner,” he explained.

His father’s profession was not in the stars for Brothers; it was racing that inspired him. Brothers worked for the late Jack Van Berg, starting at the bottom cooling horses, gradually working his way up to one of the barn’s assistant trainers.  After a ten year affiliation with Van Berg, with much thought, and greater trepidation, he went out on his own.

“It was the scariest thing in the world,” admitted Brothers. “I had support from some very good owners, including Al Stall, Sr. John Franks and Mike Rutherford.”

Brothers shared that when he first began at Louisiana Downs, he had 12-16 horses in his barn. The number swelled considerably with his success in Shreveport where he won over 800 races and nine consecutive training titles from 1980 -1988.

In a career that spanned from 1974 to 2009, Brothers saddled 10,440 Thoroughbreds, winning 2,349 races and over $48.9 million in purses.  He won the 1991 Preakness and Belmont with Hansel and developed the careers of graded stakes winners Pulpit, First Samurai, Dansil, Madcap Escapade, Arch and Secret Hello.

Brothers acknowledges the importance of his Louisiana roots and tenure at Louisiana Downs.

“Louisiana Downs was the place to be,” said Brothers.owner “The purses were good and I won my first training title there. We were very fortunate with the number of races offered.”

Brothers won the 1998 Super Derby with the Kentucky-bred Arch, owned by Claiborne Farms and Adele B. Dilschneider.

“When he was first starting out, he worked well, but didn’t ‘wow’ you,” explained Brothers. “He won his first race and we took him to Florida. We had options, but decided on the Super Derby.  Shane Sellers, who rode quite a few for me, had another commitment, so Corey Nakatani, who had ridden for me before, got the victory.”

Winning the Super Derby meant a great deal to Brothers.

“There were two races in Louisiana I really wanted to win: the Super Derby and the Louisiana Derby,” he added.  I was able to win the Louisiana Derby with Mighty. Both will always be special for me.”

One other Louisiana runner who stood out for Brothers was a filly named Monique Rene. The Louisiana-bred daughter of Prince of Ascot, was foaled in 1978 and won 29 of her 45 starts for owner John Franks.

“She had no pedigree, but just loved to run,” stated Brothers. “She laid it on the line every time she went to the racetrack.”

Brothers retired as a trainer ten years ago. His operation had expanded to Kentucky, where he won training title at both Churchill Downs and Keeneland. He loved his horses, but moving three to four times a year and the daily grind required to run a top racing operation, were key factors in his decision. 

Life these days is very good for the 73-year-old Brothers, who remains involved in the industry as a blood stock agent and advisor. He has been married to former jockey and television racing broadcaster Donna Barton Brothers for 21 years.  The couple resides in Louisville and also has a condo in Saratoga Springs.

“She’s great,” he proudly stated. “The best thing that ever happened to me!”

Brothers was inducted into the Fair Grounds Racing Hall of Fame in 1991 and in 2015, was the first Thoroughbred trainer to be inducted into the Louisiana Sport’s Hall of Fame.

“We were very pleased to name a stakes in honor of Frankie Brothers,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.  “He had a tremendous legacy at Louisiana Downs, winning nine consecutive titles, and getting the respect from his owners, fans and fellow horsemen for the way he cared for each of his horses.”

Brothers will not be on hand to present the trophy to the winning connections of the stakes named in his honor due to his bloodstock and yearling sale obligations. However, the acknowledgment from Harrah’s Louisiana Downs meant a great deal to the acclaimed horseman.

“It’s quite an honor and I appreciated the call from David,” said Brothers. “I’m forever grateful for my time at Louisiana Downs, the number of races I was able to win and the wonderful horses and owners that made such an impact on my career.”

 

Nominations for the Super Derby Card Closed on August 24

Nominations have closed for Super Derby Day, which will take place on Saturday, September 7. The card, with a special post time of 12:00 pm (Central, will include seven stakes, highlighted by the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby.

The Super Derby program will feature seven stakes, leading up to the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby, for 3-year-olds going a mile and one-sixteenth on the main track. The Super Derby closed with 24 nominations, and included potential entrants from horsemen Brad Cox and Steve Asmussen, who have won the last two editions of the stakes.

Cox, who won the 2017 Super Derby (run on the turf) with Mr Misunderstood, has Night Ops, Crafty Daddy and Marquee Prince under consideration. Night Ops, owned by Steve Landers Racing is a son of Warriors Reward, who ran second in the Oaklawn Park Invitational, and most recently, third in the Ellis Park Derby. Lucky Seven Stables’ Crafty Daddy, sired by Scat Daddy, began his career at Fair Grounds and competed two graded stakes at Arlington Park, finishing fourth in the Grade 1, $500,000 Secretariat on August 10. Marquee Prince won the Black Gold Stakes earlier this year at Fair Grounds for owners Rick, Donna and Jeff Awtrey.

Asmussen, is currently the second-leading money earning trainer in North America.  He won last year’s Super Derby with Limation for owner Michael Langford and has nominated three horses.  Rotation,  a colt by Tapit, bred and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC was the favorite in the $60,000 Super Derby Prelude here on August 3, but stumbled out of the gate, then gamely battled to complete the superfecta.  Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC also bred and owns another Tapit colt, Wicked Indeed, who ran fourth in both the Grade 3 LeComte at Fair Grounds and Sunland Derby at Sunland Park. The Hall of Fame conditioner has also nominated Vangilder, a stakes winner at Albuquerque for owner Chuck Hovitz.

Trainer Al Stall, Jr, who has won three previous editions of the Super Derby, is considering testing stakes company for the first time with Adele B. Dilschneider‘s homebred Rescind. The lightly raced son of Blame broke his maiden and won a $19,000 allowance here on August 12.

Ellis Park Derby champion Gray Magician, trained by Peter Miller, is another interesting nominee. The son of Graydar ran second in the UAE Derby (G2) before competing in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. He was bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks Farm, whose founder, Steve Davison is an attorney and business owner in Ruston, Louisiana. Gray Magician has banked $738,710 in 11 starts for the ownership group of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable. 

Leader of Men, owned by Walpole Racing LLC won the $60,000 Super Derby Prelude and is on track to run in the Super Derby. Trevilion, owned by Tigertail Ranch, who ran second and Paynt Battle for Norman Stables, LLC, are also under consideration.

The Super Derby, which had its first running in 1980 has a rich history. The illustrious list of past champions includes four Kentucky Derby winners, four Preakness Stakes winners, five Belmont Stakes winners and seven Travers Stakes winners. Six previous Super Derby entrants have won the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic and three Super Derby winners, Tiznow, Sunday Silence and Alysheba have been voted the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year, the industry’s highest award.

The draw for Super Derby Day will take place on Saturday, August 31. The featured stakes are:

 

$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)

 

 

Rachel McLaughlin Will be Onsite for Super Derby 40

Rachel McLaughlin, racing production manager and on-air talent at Indiana Grand, also one of the Caesars Entertainment horse racing properties, will make an appearance at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs on Saturday, September 7 for Super Derby 40.  She and racing publicist Martha Claussenwill divide paddock previews and post-race stakes interviews as well as offering selections for the entire card. McLaughlin will also meet and greet fans at the track’s simulcast OTB.

“Now that Louisiana Downs and Indiana Grand are part of Caesars Entertainment, we have utilized Rachel’s handicapping expertise each week with our Super Tuesday Pick 4 wager,” said Eric Halstrom, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Vice President of Operations. “She has a tremendous following on social media and will be a welcome addition to our Super Derby 40 team.”

 

Super Derby Festival 40 Golf Tournament Set for August 29

On Thursday, August 29, the Super Derby Festival 40 Charity Golf Tournament will be held at Northwood Hills Golf Club in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The event will benefit Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk and The Backside Benevolence Fund, 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, which takes place on Saturday, September 7.

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.

 

Wiener Dog Races Return on Labor Day

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs  will present a fun-filled Labor Day program with live Thoroughbred races and the always popular Wiener Dog Races on Monday, September 2.  The fun starts at 11:00am. The first Wiener Dog race begins at 12pm with the Championship Race at approximately 2:00 pm. There will also be race heats for children. Proceeds to benefit K9 Karma Service Dogs. Families can enjoy a children’s area including a petting zoo (free admission) located on the Racing Apron. Face Painting will be available for an additional charge.  Also, Food Trucks from across the region will be serving up great local bites for purchase.

 

Super Derby Festivities Set for Saturday, September 7

Several promotions and special events are planned for Super Derby 40 so that both racing fans and families will have an enjoyable afternoon at the racetrack.

Watch and wager on the Super Derby Card in the air-conditioned comfort of the Harrah’s Club. An All You Can Eat Buffet offering for $39.99 per person will be available, beginning at 11:00 am. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling 318-752-6367. An upscale buffet, thee  Super Derby 40 in the Sky, will also be available for $49.99 per person. Reservations are required: 318-752-6367.

At 10:30 am, a Jockey Meet and Greet and Autograph Signing will take place in the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs main entrance area. A photo of the riders will be available for $5.00 with the proceeds to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).

Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary and regional racing publicist Martha Claussen will team up for a pre-race handicapping preview at 11:00 am in the Inside Rail, located on the first floor of the grandstand. They will offer detailed analysis of the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby as well as their selections for each of the races on the Super Derby card.

Also beginning at 11:00 am, a Children’s Area will open on the Racing Apron.  Face Painting is available for an additional charge. Children can join in the fun with the Super Derby Stilt Walkers and Hula Hoop Stars! Food Trucks from across the region will be serving up great local bites for purchase.

Also at 12:00 pm, registration begins for the Super Derby Ladies Hat Contest. Hats will be judged in three categories: Spirit of Louisiana, Classic and Most Original. The winners will receive $100 cash.

The Food Truck Face-Off  will take place after the 3rd race. Competitors will have five minutes to scarf down some of the yummiest foods available for purchase on the Racing Apron. Seven popular local celebrities and three participants from the crowd will compete to win, not only bragging rights, but $250 in cash.

 

 

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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