Fair Grounds Announces 2020-21 Racing and Stakes Schedule

“Road to the Derby” Series Highlighted on Fair Grounds’
76-Day, 2020-21 Thoroughbred Racing Schedule

2020-21 STAKES SCHEDULE worth $7.13 MILLION

NEW ORLEANS (October 8, 2020) – Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced that 51 stakes worth a combined $7.055 million will be offered during the upcoming 76-day 2020-21 Thoroughbred racing season, which is set to begin Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26.

“We are proud to once again continue our growth and support of the Thoroughbred racing industry with our purse allocations and this diverse and dynamic stakes schedule” said Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots president Doug Shipley. “We look forward to our 149th racing season and the continuation of bringing many of the best horsemen and jockeys from around the world to enjoy the high caliber racing at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.”

The “Louisiana Derby Day” card on March 20 will feature eight stakes worth a total of $2.425 million, including the 108th running of the Grade II $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby for 3-year-olds.

Previously run over nine furlongs on dirt, the distance of Louisiana Derby was extended to 1 3/16ths miles last season. The third and final local prep on the Road to the Grade I $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, the race is worth 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers. Run at 1 1/16 miles, the 53rd running of the Grade II $400,000 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks for 3-year-old fillies offers the same number of points en route to the Grade I $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks.

“Lengthening the distances of all three of our Road to the Derby races proved to be quite popular with the horsemen,” said Fair Grounds racing secretary Scott Jones. “The Lecomte drew 14 entries, the Risen Star had 23 entries and was split into two divisions, and the Louisiana Derby had an overflow field. Our progressive schedule of 3-year-old races for both the boys and girls gives horsemen a great 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 $400,000 New Orleans Classic 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.

On January 16, the “Road to the Derby Kickoff 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 16 program, including the $125,000 Louisiana Stakes, which was elevated to Grade III status and received a $25,000 purse increase, at 1 1/16 miles, the $125,000 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 13, “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 last season, 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 three Kentucky Oaks winners in Monomoy Girl and Serengeti Empress and 2014 victress Untapable also took down the Run for the Lilies. Our 2020 third place finisher Swiss Skydiver has gone on to win five graded stakes, including the Alabama (G1) in advance of a runner-up finish in in the Oaks, and the Preakness (G1) against the boys. With such a stellar history of recent participants, Fair Grounds remains hopeful the Rachel Alexandra will soon achieve Grade I status is deserves.

Four stakes for older horses will also be presented on the February 13 program — the Grade III $200,000 Mineshaft Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, the Grade III $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes for 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.

The December 19 “Santa Super Saturday presented by Coca-Cola” card offers a six-pack of $75,000 stakes. Four of the races are for older horses — the Tenacious Stakes at 1 1/16ths miles, the Richard R. Scherer Memorial Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs on turf, the Blushing K.D. for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf, and the Buddy Diliberto Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The other two are six furlong events for juveniles – the Sugar Bowl Stakes for the boys and the Letellier Memorial Stakes for the girls.

Louisiana Champions Day presented by Acadian Ambulance will be held on December 14. 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.

The purse for the opening day Thanksgiving Classic for older male sprinters has been increased $25,000 to $125,000. The $60,000 Shantel Lanerie, to be run on March 21, has been repurposed as a route race for older Louisiana-bred fillies and mares.

The 76-day, 2020-2021 Fair Grounds racing season runs through Sunday, March 28. Regular post time will be 1 p.m. CT. The exceptions are Louisiana Derby Preview Day (February 13 at noon CT) and Louisiana Derby Day (March 20 at 11 a.m. CT).

Condition Book #1 

Pocket Calendar & Stakes Schedule 

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Fair Grounds Must Pay Record Fine in Clean Water Act Settlement

By T. D. Thornton

In an attempt to resolve years of federal Clean Water Act (CWA) violations at its Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, Churchill Downs Louisiana Horseracing Company, LLC, has agreed to pay a $2.7 million penalty–the largest civil fine ever paid by a concentrated animal feeding operation in a CWA matter.

Under the terms of the settlement announced Sept. 29 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), the limited liability company that runs Fair Grounds must also implement $5.6 million in operational changes and construction projects to eliminate the unauthorized discharges of manure, urine, and wastewater from the track’s stable area.

 

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Louisiana Judge to Rule Friday on Fair Grounds Emergency Stabling

By T. D. Thornton

A temporary restraining order issued Sep. 4 has blocked a Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) mandate from taking effect that seeks to force the Fair Grounds to open its backstretch stabling to as many as 500 Thoroughbreds displaced by Hurricane Laura in the last week of August. An Orleans Parish Civil District Court judge is now expected to rule on the injunction after a Sep. 11 hearing.

The news site Crescent City Sports first reported on the 57-page request for injunction filed by attorneys for the Fair Grounds, which is owned by the gaming corporation Churchill Downs, Inc. The filing stated that the LSRC “does not have the legal authority to issue the mandatory injunction” and that “issuing such an order constitutes an unconstitutional taking and violates Fair Grounds’ constitutional rights to due process.”

After the Aug. 27 hurricane wrecked infrastructure at Delta Downs, the racino announced that its property would close to assess and repair damage. The Oct. 6-Feb. 27 meet could be delayed or abbreviated.

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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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Horses Arrive at Churchill Downs From Fair Grounds

About 175 horses were scheduled to be on the grounds by the end of May 11.

The first horse vans began arriving at Churchill Downs‘ stable gate in the early morning May 11 from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, with approximately 175 horses scheduled to be on the grounds by the end of the day, according to senior director of the stable area Steve Hargrave.

“We’re so glad to be coming home,” said trainer Greg Foley. Foley, whose family lives in Oldham County, Kentucky, experienced an unplanned, extended stay in New Orleans following the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed entry to the backside at Churchill Downs by nearly two months. Foley is annually one of the first trainers to arrive at Churchill Downs, and he held to tradition Monday as part of his string of horses were the first to arrive at 6 a.m. ET.

Other trainers to have horses that arrived Monday included Tom Amoss, Steve Asmussen, Mark Casse, Bret Calhoun, Steve Margolis, and Al Stall Jr.

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Churchill Backstretch to Open May 11, Fair Grounds Horses Will Be First In

By T. D. Thornton

Churchill Downs has been cleared by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear to open its backstretch area May 11 so long as the track adheres to enhanced pandemic precautions approved by the state.

Beshear announced the clearance Wednesday at his daily COVID-19 video press conference as part of a phased-in reopening for various state industries. Churchill followed up about an hour later with a press release that included specifics pertinent to horsemen.

Neither Beshear nor the track pinpointed an exact date for the return of live racing. But the Churchill release stated “it will be staged at a minimum of four days per week,” Thursday through Sunday.

The following is a listing of racetracks and when horses based there may return to the Churchill Downs stable areas between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.:

  • Fair Grounds (May 11-13)
  • Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and horses based at Florida training centers (May 14-16)
  • Oaklawn Park (May 17-19)
  • All other locales (May 20 onward)

 

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COX ENJOYS BANNER FAIR GROUNDS MEET

Season cut short six racing days due to COVID-19 pandemic
 

New Orleans (March 23, 2020) – Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots returned to the traditional Thanksgiving Day opening for the start of the 148th racing season, but the meet concluded six racing days prior to the scheduled March 29 closing date due to a “stay-home” order issued by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, following public health concerns in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some eight days earlier on Friday, March 13, Fair Grounds was ordered to conduct live racing with no patrons, only essential employees, licensed horsemen (including owners) and credentialed media were allowed on track.

On what would be the final racing day of the meet, in front of an empty grandstand with only essential employees and horsemen with a horse in the race allowed to be present, Clint Gasaway, Lance Gasaway, Madaket Stables, and Wonder Stables’ Wells Bayou captured the 107th running of the Twin Spires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) in front-running style, earning 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which a week earlier was pushed back to Saturday, September 5. Extended to the 1 3/16ths-mile distance for the first time, the Louisiana Derby drew a full an overflow field, and 14 horses started.

Trainer Brad Cox won the final three stakes, and four races in total, on the Louisiana Derby Day card, taking the Mervin Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) with Gaining Ground Racing’s Factor This and the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks with Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Bonny South (G2) prior to her Derby win with Wells Bayou.

Earlier in the meet, Cox won the first division of the Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Linclon with Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, and Doheny Racing’s Mr. Monomoy, a half brother to 2018 champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl.

The Risen Star, which was extended to 1 1/8-miles for the first time, drew 23 entrants and thus was split into two divisions. The original $400,000 purse and Kentucky Derby qualifying points (50-20-10-5) remained the same for both divisions.

Cox, who led all trainers with 12 stakes wins at the meet, took home his third consecutive trainer’s title winning with 40 of his 147 starters. Locally-based Ron Faucheaux, who won his 500th career race during the meet, finished second with 34 wins. Tom Amoss (29), Steve Asmussen (26) and Bret Calhoun (22) rounded out the top five.

James Graham (63 wins) held off Mitchell Murrill (60) and Colby Hernandez (60) to take down his second Fair Grounds’ jockey title, with the first coming during the 2014-15 meet.

Florent Geroux, who finished fourth in the standings with 56 wins, led all jockeys in purses earned with $2,939,706 and stakes victories with ten. Shaun Bridgmohan was second with nine stakes scores.

Brian Hernandez, Jr., who completed the top five in the standing with 45 wins, scored career victory 2,000 on December 19, when guiding the Jimmy Baker-trained Afleet Roger to the winner’s circle.

In what was a tight owner’s race, Winalot Racing, LLC edged Maggie Moss 13-12, with Godolphin, LLC (11), Earl J. Hernandez, Keith J. Hernandez and John Duvielh (11) and Calumet Farm (10).

Prior to her disappointing fourth place finish as the 1-5 favorite in the Fair Grounds Oaks, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Thomas Reiman, William Dickson, and Debbie Easter’s Finite won both the Silverbulletday and the Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton. Her victory in the Silverbulletday represented the 1,000th career stakes win for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who joined D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher as the only trainers to achieve this feat.

Fourteen horses won three races at the meet. In addition to Finite, Factor This (both graded), Bobby’s Wicked One, Play On, Hieronymus, and Louisiana-bred Net a Bear, Vacherie Girl, Ninety One Assault and each won two stakes.

Allied Racing Stable’s By My Standards returned to the scene of his 2019 Louisiana Derby win to take the New Orleans Classic (G2) for trainer Bret Calhoun and jockey Gabriel Saez.

Prior to finishing fifth in the Louisiana Derby and second in the first division of the Risen Star, John Oxley’s Enforceable won the Lecomte (G3). The race was extended from 1 mile and 70 yards to 1 1/16-miles.

For the 2019-20 racing season, Fair Grounds eliminated handicap conditions for stakes races. These races are now weighted under allowance conditions.

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Vacherie Girl Back to Winning Ways in Crescent City Oaks

Crescent City Oaks
Fair Grounds, 3-21-20, 8.32 furlongs
Three Year Old Fillies, Accredited Louisiana Bred, $75,000

Vacherie Girl_3-21-2020-ho
Ricardo Santana, Jr. guides Vacherie Girl to victory in the 15th running of the Crescent City Oaks at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Jan Brubecker

VACHERIE GIRL
Tapiture–Saucey Officer
Breeder: Georgia Farms Inc
Owner: L. William and Corinne Heiligbrodt
Trainer: Steven M. Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr.

2nd
Quikfast N Ahurry
Closing Argument–Wynning Ride
Breeder: Carrol J. Castille
Owner: Whispering Oaks Farm LLC
Trainer: Steven B. Flint
Jockey: Florent Geroux

3rd
Saber Cut
Sabercat–Shes Dixies Eskimo
Breeder: John Luck
Owner: John Luck
Trainer: Samuel Breaux
Jockey: Diego Saenz

 

Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt’s Vacherie Girl returned to the form she flaunted in her first two career starts when she rallied between horses in the stretch and surged clear under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. to prevail by 3 ½ lengths in the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies.

In her first couple of appearances at Fair Grounds, Vacherie Girl touted her potential by breaking her maiden at first asking by 6 ½ lengths on Nov. 28, then following that up with a 1 ¼-length triumph in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes going six furlongs on Dec. 14.

After closing out her juvenile campaign with a third-place run in the Dec. 29 Louisiana Futurity, Vacherie Girl had her connections scratching their heads when she ran last of nine during her sophomore debut in the LA Bred Premier Night Starlet Stakes at Delta Downs on Feb. 8. The daughter of Tapiture more than made amends for that off day by putting herself in the mix early in the Crescent City Oaks and responding with authority when called upon for her best run.

With 43-1 shot Georgia Dawn leading Oh Toodles through the opening quarter-mile in :24.08, Vacherie Girl settled a few lengths behind in third with race favorite Steph’sfullasugar sitting off her flank in fourth. By the time Georgia Dawn reached the half-mile in :48.49, Vacherie Girl had dropped back to fourth as Steph’sfullofsugar began making her bid three-wide and threatening the top group with about three furlongs remaining.

Oh Toodles ultimately took command around the far turn and led the charge in early stretch only to have Vacherie come with her kick under Santana, who had maneuvered her down the middle. The Steve Asmussen-trained filly then put away Quikfast N Ahurry to her outside and finished up willingly, covering the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:43.65 over a track rated fast.

Quikfast N Ahurry held for place honors with Saber Cut third and Oh Toodles fourth. Steph’sfullasugar, the 1-2 betting choice, faded to finish last in the field of seven.

Sebs Princess was a late scratch out of the Crescent City Oaks after rearing in the gate.

Sent off at 5-1 odds, Vacherie Girl was bred by Georgia Farms out of the Officer mare Saucey Officer and improves her record to three wins from five starts with a bankroll of $143,307.

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Sydster wires Crescent City Derby

Crescent City Derby
Fair Grounds, 3-21-20, 1 mile and 1 sixteenth
Three-Year-Olds, Accredited Louisiana Bred, $75,000

Sydster_3-21-2020-F
Sydster with jockey Florent Geroux aboard goes wire to wire to win the 48th running of the Crescent City Derby at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

SYDSTER
Power Broker–Tensas Salt
Breeder: J. Adcock & Montgomery Equine Center
Owner: Baronne Farms, LLC
Trainer: Edward J. Johnston
Jockey: Florent Geroux

2nd
Jax Man
Goldencents–Blondie Lox
Breeder: Earl Hernandez & Keith Hernandez
Owner: E. Hernandez, K. Hernandez and J. Duvieilh
Trainer: Sam B. David
Jockey: James Graham

3rd
Luckenbacher
Mr. Besilu–Cat’s Production
Breeder: John A Adams
Owner: John A Adams
Trainer: Beverly Burress
Jockey: Corey J. Lanerie

 

Baronne Farms’ Sydster made the most of every inch he was given in his stakes debut as the son of Power Broker had things all his own his way en route to the victory in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby for Louisiana breds.

The Crescent City Derby was the first of eight stakes on Fair Grounds’ signature $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) lineup. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the track has been holding races without spectators and allowing only essential personnel on the grounds.

Sent off as 3-2 second choice in the field of eight, Sydster caused some drama before he ever got running when he became fractious in the gate, causing jockey Florent Geroux to temporarily dismount. Once settled and sprung free from post 1, the chestnut gelding was nothing short of professional as he shot to the front and loped along through fractions of :25.05 and :49.36 with 60-1 longshot Luckenbacher tracking him in second.

As Geroux set Sydster down for the stretch run, 4-5 race favorite Langs Day tipped out from his spot along the inside and tried to threaten. Those soft early fractions left Sydster with plenty in reserve, however, to hold off a late surge from Jax Man to the outside and prevail by 1 1/2 lengths in his fifth career start.

Jax Man was 1 ¼-lengths in front of third-place finisher Luckenbacher. City Park was fourth with Langs Day fading to fifth to suffer his first career loss.  The final time for the 1 1/16-miles was 1:45.59 over a track rated fast.

Trained by Edward Johnston, Sydster came into the Crescent City Derby off a second-place run in an allowance race at Fair Grounds on Feb. 17. All five of his starts have come over the New Orleans oval and he improved his record to three wins and one runner-up finish with $104,800 in earnings.

Sydster was bred by J. Adcock and Montgomery Equine Center out of the Salt Lake mare Tensas Salt.

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Monte Man Scores 14th Career Victory in Costa Rising

Costa Rising Stakes
Fair Grounds, 3-21-20, 5 1/2 furlongs, turf
Three-Year-Olds and Upwards, Accredited Louisiana Bred, $75,000

 

Monte Man_3-21-2020-F
Adam Beschizza pilots Monte Man to victory in the 10th running of the Costa Rising Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography

MONTE MAN
Custom for Carlos–Sarah’s My Angel
Breeder: Val C. Murrell
Owner: Ivery Sisters Racing,
Trainer: Ron Faucheux
Jockey: Adam Beschizza

2nd
Grand Luwegee
El Corredor–Magical Mia
Breeder: Gerard Perron
Owner: Gerard Perron
Trainer: Gerard Perron
Jockey: Corey J. Lanerie

3rd
Yankee Seven
Yankee Gentleman–Real Peace
Breeder: Steve Margolis, Wahl & Assoc., George Messina & Kerima Haddad
Owner: Margolis Racing, LLC and Columbus Circle Partners
Trainer: Steve Margolis
Jockey: Chantal Sutherland

 

(New Orleans – March 21, 2020) — Ivery Sisters Racing’s Monte Man, the beaten favorite by a neck in the $75,000 Costa Rising Stakes one year ago, reclaimed his title in the race he first captured in 2018 when he edged past stubborn pacesetter Letithappencarlos in midstretch to once again prove best in the 5 ½-furlong turf test for Louisiana breds.

The 7-year-old Monte Man has been a thoroughly honest performer, finishing worse than third just twice in 14 subsequent starts since his initial triumph in the Costa Rising Stakes two years ago. The gelded son of Custom of Carlos was recognized for his consistency by the betting public, who made him the 5-2 favorite in the field of 12, and he rewarded that faith with a stalk-and-pounce run over a firm Fair Grounds course Saturday to win by a length and earn his 14th victory from 39 career starts.

When Letithappencarlos was sent to the front in the Costa Rising, Monte Man was kept close to pace by jockey Adam Beschizza who rated his mount to the outside in second through an opening quarter-mile in :21.76. Monte Man began advancing around the far and took dead aim in the stretch at Letithappencarlos, who was still game on the front end after posting a half-mile in :45.59.

Under right-handed urging, Monte Man took over just past the sixteenth and held off Grand Luwegee running on late to hit the wire in 1:03.49.

Yankee Seven got up for third with Letithappencarlos settling for fourth.

Trained by Ron Faucheux, Monte Man was bred by Val C. Murrell out of the Sutter’s Prospect mare Sarah’s My Angel and improved his career bankroll to $582,441.

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