Exercise Rider Severely Injured, Two Horses Killed In Head-On Collision At Fair Grounds

by | 01.11.2019

 

Roderick “Roddy” MacKenzie was severely injured in an accident during morning training hours at the Fair Grounds

An accident during Monday’s morning training hours at the Fair Grounds resulted in the death of a pair of Thoroughbred racehorses and severe injuries to one exercise rider, Roderick “Roddy” MacKenzie.

According to various individuals with knowledge of the situation, an unnamed young horse from the barn of Joe Sharp unseated his rider and took off the wrong way around the racetrack. MacKenzie was breezing another horse for trainer Neil Howard and was unable to avoid the loose horse. The ensuing head-on collision resulted in the death of both horses –  it was unclear whether the horses were killed instantly or had to be euthanized.

(Howard declined to identify his horse in order to protect the privacy of its owners.)

MacKenzie suffered a broken arm and broken leg, and has undergone a pair of surgeries this week. Howard said the exercise rider came through the surgeries well and is in good spirits.

“This incident was a blink of the eye incident; there wasn’t any safety feature that any track has in place that would have had any impact on this accident,” said Howard. “It was unfortunate that a rider came off a horse, and you hate to say this but it’s just one of those things that happens that we all have in the back of our minds.”
The safety alert system at the Fair Grounds involves flashing lights around the track and an announcer letting riders know where the horse is and which way it is moving.“I’ll say this, when you’re on a horse out there, not only do you know there’s a loose horse but you also know where that horse is, how fast he’s moving and what direction he’s moving in,” Howard explained. “So the feature that they have here, actually exercise riders are put at ease. When I leave here, I miss it.”

Please follow and like us:

From Maidens To Eclipse Award Winners, Photographer Hodges Loves Every Image

by | 01.03.2019 | 3:34pm

Amanda Hodges Weir and Lou Hodges

Fair Grounds in New Orleans has withstood the test of time as one of the most revered racetracks in North America.  For the past forty years, track photographer Lou Hodges, Jr. has captured the racing history of the venerable establishment in his own inimitable style.

Hodges is a second-generation photographer. His dad, Lou Hodges, Sr. was a veteran of the Army Air Corps during World War II and began working under Fair Grounds track photographer Jack Blythe in 1948. When Blythe retired, Hodges took over and enjoyed a successful career, honored as a member of the Fair Grounds Press Box Hall of Fame. He passed the baton to his son in 1976.

Lou Hodges, Jr. served as track photographer at several racetracks, including Rockingham Park, Washington Park and Arlington Park prior to taking the position at Fair Grounds.

He explains the goal of the images created by Hodges Photography.

“Our technique for getting perfect race shots is to use telephoto lenses to have tight shots,” said Hodges.  “We are always looking for different angles and different compositions that will make someone who views the image look twice.”

Hodges has photographed some of the most celebrated Thoroughbreds in the six-month winter Thoroughbred meet, which culminates with the running of the Louisiana Derby, a major prep for the Kentucky Derby. He cites Rachel Alexandra, Risen Star, A Letter To Harry and Gun Runner as some of the most memorable champions he has photographed at Fair Grounds.

He became part of the first father-son Fair Grounds Press Box Hall of Fame, when he was inducted in 2014.

Several years, ago, Hodges added his daughter, Amanda Hodges Weir, to his operation.  She began shooting in New Orleans periodically in 2011, but came to the business full time in 2015.

“It’s great to work with my dad,” said Amanda. “I couldn’t ask for a better mentor. He’s patient and very encouraging.”

Hodges Photography also has the contract at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in Shreveport. Ann Switalski handles the day-to-day duties for both the Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred meets, with Lou coming in for the bigger race days, including Super Derby in September.

Iconic Shots

Hodges continues to add to his repertoire and create iconic images at Fair Grounds. In addition to post parade, stretch, wire and comeback shots, Lou and Amanda, with their Cannon equipment and various telephoto lenses, are always in search of shots with a “wow” factor.

Lou wanted to recreate a photo of horses rounding the far turn in front of the grandstand and accomplished that goal on Thanksgiving Day.

“It was a picture I have wanted to take for several years,” he explained. “But, several things had to be in order. I needed good weather, a long race and the ability to be on a lift high enough to get the desired angle.”

With the support of Gabe Martin, a member of the Fair Grounds facility maintenance staff, who was using a hydraulic Snorkel Lift for a light bulb replacement, Hodges stood 60 feet above the track to get his shot.

“I’m not crazy about heights, but needed to be up that high to get what I wanted,” he said.

There are many photographs he is proud of, including a beautiful sunset image of Gun Runner in the 2016 Risen Star and Calvin Borel giving Rachel Alexandra a congratulatory pat as she won the Fair Ground Oaks in 2009.

But believe it or not, as much as he enjoys the graded stakes runners and Eclipse Award-winning champions, he appreciates the maiden and allowance winners just as much.

Digital photography has added both ease and dimension to racing photography. Lou and Amanda take pride in creating composite photo arrangements for winning connections.

“We take a lot of photos for connections who may never win a graded stakes race,” he said. “To see the look on their faces when they pick up their photos is really neat and means a lot to us.”

Jazz Enthusiast

Hodges loves jazz music, with the late Dave Brubeck cited as one of his favorite artists. Fair Grounds is home to the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which takes place after the conclusion of the Thoroughbred racing season.  Set-up for the event is a massive undertaking and the Jazz Fest organizers move in and take control at full throttle.  One year, Lou entered the Fair Grounds press box to take an aerial photo of the infield. However, he was refused entrance by the Jazz Fest staff.

“I pointed to my picture on the wall,” said Hodges. “But my Hall of Fame status didn’t make an impact on them!”

Nonetheless, he has high regard for the annual event, preferring to enjoy the festivities from the infield versus the grandstand and elite press box.

No Signs of Slowing Down

Hodges has been a part of a remarkable and often unpredictable history at Fair Grounds. In addition to the racing glory, he has seen the racetrack go through catastrophic events, including the grandstand fire of 1993 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

You might think that after over four decades, the grind of  racetrack photography would dull his enthusiasm, but that is far from the case with Lou Hodges.

“Actually, it’s more exciting than ever,” he stated. “It used to be a maddening process in the dark room and composite photos were pretty much impossible. Now with digital photography, there is so much more we can do.”

Ryan Martin, Fair Grounds’ Racing Media Relations Coordinator works closely with Hodges Photography and appreciates Lou for both his personality and professionalism.

“Lou Hodges is a very valuable asset to the Fair Grounds team,” said Martin. “Both he and Amanda do a fabulous job in what they do and are a pleasure to work with. Whenever I need to photo to include with press releases or to post to social media, I can always count on Hodges to come through with a solid, top quality image. He has decades of experience in doing what he does and his work is a massive reflection of that. Aside from his work, Lou is a very great person who is always happy to help out. Racing is anything but short of talented photographers and Lou Hodges is no exception.”

Now 70, Hodges began shooting photos with his dad at Fair Grounds when he was just 12-years-old. He gets a kick out of some the faithful “old timers” who tease him about still “hanging around”, and enjoys working with staffers, many of whom are forty years his junior.

“I’m surrounded by young people, but can outlast them all,” enthusiastically proclaimed Hodges.

Martha Claussen has been prominent in the racing industry since 1997 as a publicist, writer and handicapper.

Please follow and like us:

Classy John, Midnight Fantasy Win Louisiana Futurity Divisions

There may have been an anxious moment or two, but in the end the heavy favorites of both divisions of the Louisiana Futurity got the job done on Saturday at the Fair Grounds.

Louisiana Futurity (Colt and Gelding Division)
Fair Grounds, 12-29-18, 6 furlongs
Two-Year-Old, Accredited Louisiana Bred, $85,700

Classy John_F_12-29-2018
Classy John, with Corey Lanerie aboard, out runs Jimi’s A Star, led by Emanuel Nieves, to win the Louisiana Futurity Colt and Gelding Division at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, LA. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr

CLASSY JOHN
Songandaprayer–Kitty’s Got Class
Breeder: Tom Curtis & Wayne Simpson
Owner: Valene Farms LLC
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: Corey J. Lanerie

2nd
Jimi’s a Star
Star Guitar–Unusual Strike
Breeder: James Boyd
Owner: James A. Boyd
Trainer: Henry B. Johnson, Jr.
Jockey: Emanuel Nieves

3rd
Cafe Du Monde
New Year’s Day–Java Jolt
Breeder: Natalie Montgomery & Jim Montgomery
Owner: Diamond Racing Inc. and Jay and Joan Janssen
Trainer: Leo G. Gabriel, Jr.
Jockey: Florent Geroux

 

In the colts and geldings division, Valene Farms’ Classy John held off the late advances of Jimi’s a Star to win by a diminishing three-quarters of a length. Guided by jockey Corey Lanerie, the son of Songandaprayer broke sharply and pressed pacesetter Why Not Charlie through an opening quarter in 22.05. Classy John put that rival away nearing the turn, but was asked by Lanerie at the three-sixteenths pole as Jimi’s a Star loomed a challenge on the far outside. Classy John held Jimi’s a Star, posting a final six furlong time of 1:11.67 in the slop. Café Du Monde finished a non-threatening third.

“He had me a worried for a little bit,” Lanerie said. “He went kind of quick early but he’s a fast horse and I didn’t want to take anything away from him.”

Trained by Dallas Stewart, Classy John won the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile Stakes earlier in the meet and broke his maiden against open company in his career debut at Saratoga. His lone defeat took place against winners at Churchill Downs behind stakes placed Hog Creek Hustle.

“He ran great,” Stewart said. “I’m very proud of him. He’s such a nice horse. He’s been to Saratoga and ran big at Churchill. He’s just a very quality colt. A big thank you goes out to Murray and Jerry Valene for giving me the opportunity to train this horse.”

It was the third win in four career outings for Classy John, who upped his earnings to $171,650.

As the heavy 1-9 favorite, Classy John returned $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10 while Jimi’s a Star brought back $.00 and $2.10. Café Du Monde paid $2.10 to show.

Shae’s Day and Why Not Charlie completed the order of finish.

 

 

Louisiana Futurity (Filly and Gelding Division)
Fair Grounds, 12-29-18, 6 furlongs
Two-Year-Old, Accredited Louisiana Bred Fillies, $89,100

Midnight Fantasy_F_12-29-2018
Midnight Fantasy, with Adam Beschizza aboard, wins the 52nd running of the Louisiana Futurity – Filly Division at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr

MIDNIGHT FANTASY
Midnight Lute–St. Jean
Breeder: J. Adcock & Hume Wornall
Owner: Carl R. Moore Management LLC
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Adam Beschizza

2nd
Miss Bitters
Old Fashioned–Sheila Tequila
Breeder: Stephen Brown
Owner: Mintmere Thoroughbreds, LLC
Trainer: Glenn Delahoussaye
Jockey: Colby J. Hernandez

3rd
Goodprofit
Guilt Trip–Charming Colleen
Breeder: James McIngvale
Owner: James McIngvale
Trainer: Chris Richard
Jockey: Corey J. Lanerie

In the fillies division three races later, Carl R. Moore Management’s Midnight Fantasy was stuck between horses early, made the lead, then gave it up before taking full command nearing the turn and drawing off to a convincing ten-length score.

Trained by Joe Sharp and guided to victory by Adam Beschizza, the daughter of Midnight Lute completed thee six furlong voyage over a sloppy track in 1:11.62. Miss Bitters finished a distant second and Goodprofit rounded out the trifecta.

Completing the order of finish were Raising the Ante, Its Misty in Paris, Cohenscollegefund and Scat At Ms. Pat’s.

“She’s always had sort of an easy lead in her last couple of wins,” Beschizza said. “Today was a bit of a challenge but we’re still looking forward with her. She’s always been a filly that Joe has held in high regard and hopefully she can live up to her expectations and keep on improving.”

Midnight Fantasy won her first two starts by a combined 12¾ lengths, which took place in a state-bred maiden special weight on Opening Day and the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes.

“It was good for her to have to take back a bit and sit off another horse,” Sharp said. “Mentally she’s just been rock solid since day one. At some point she was going to have to do that so it was nice. One of these days she’ll get a fast track again, but she seems to handle whatever we throw at her so far.”

Sharp did not rule out the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes as a possible next start for Midnight Fantasy and also mentioned the $100,000 Louisiana Bred Premier Night Starlet Stakes at Delta Downs on February 9.

“We’ll talk about it. It’s either (the Silverbulletday Stakes) or Delta,” Sharp said. “We’ll get her back and cool her out. Every option is open at this point.”

With a win in the fillies division of the Louisiana Futurity, Midnight Fantasy has now earned a total of $138,060. As the heavy 1-9 favorite, she returned $2.10 across the board while Miss Bitters paid $5.60 and $2.60. Goodprofit brought back $2.10.

Bred in Louisiana by J. Addock and Hume Wornall, Midnight Fantasy was purchased for $77,000 from this year’s Equine Sales of Louisiana 2-Year-Old and Horses of Racing Age Sale where she was consigned by Pike Racing.

Please follow and like us:

Louisiana Champions Day Classic

Louisiana Champions Day Classic
Fair Grounds, 12-8-18, 9 furlongs
Three-Year-Olds and Upwards, $150,000

Underprressure_12-8-2018-F
Underpressure with Corey Lanerie aboard wins the 28th running of the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

UNDERPRESSURE
Birdstone–Charming Colleen
Breeder: James McIngvale
Owner: Mallory Greiner
Trainer: Chris Richard
Jockey: Corey J. Lanerie

2nd
Grande Basin
Good and Tough–Silver Rail
Breeder: Coteau Grove Farms
Owner: William J. Deckwa and John Carbo
Trainer: Edward J. Johnston
Jockey: Miguel Mena

3rd
Mageez
Musket Man–Spaseeba
Breeder: James A. Mcgehee Jr.
Owner: Double Dam Farm LLC
Trainer: Delmar R. Caldwell
Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan

 

Please follow and like us:

Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Turf

Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Turf
Fair Grounds, 12-8-18, 8.5 furlongs (dirt)
Three-Year-Old and Upwards, Fillies and Mares, $100,000

Remember Daisy_12-8-2018-F
Mitchell Murrill pilots Remember Daisy to victory in the 28th running of the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Turf at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

REMEMBER DAISY
Misremembered–Very Speightstown
Breeder: Al Ulwelling & Bill Ulwelling
Owner: Al & Bill Ulwelling
Trainer: Gary M. Scherer
Jockey: Mitchell Murrill

2nd
Hyper Piper
Old Fashioned–Filaree
Breeder: Earl Hernandez, Keith Hernandez & John Duvieilh
Owner: Earl Hernandez, Keith Hernandez & John Duvieilh
Trainer: Sam B. David, Jr.,
Jockey: Marcelino Pedroza

3rd
Pacific Pink
Private Vow–Truly Romantic
Breeder: Brandon Adcock
Owner: Keith Plaisance
Trainer: Edward J. Johnston
Jockey: Colby J. Hernandez

 

Please follow and like us:

Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint

Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint
Fair Grounds, 12-8-18, 6 furlongs
Three-Year-Old and Upwards, Fillies and Mares, $100,000

Ours To Run_12-8-2018-F
Ours To Run with Gabriel Saez aboard wins the 13th running of the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

OURS TO RUN
Half Ours–Brown Eyed Baby
Breeder: Clifford Grum
Owner: Colonel Thoroughbreds LLC,
Trainer: J. Larry Jones
Jockey: Gabriel Saez

2nd
Minit to Stardom
Star Guitar–Wild About Marie
Breeder: Brittlyn Stables, Inc.
Owner: Brittlyn Stable, Inc.
Trainer: Albert M. Stall, Jr.
Jockey: Colby J. Hernandez

3rd
Shakopee Town
Jersey Town–Shakopee
Breeder: Al Ulwelling and Bill Ulwelling
Owner: Al and Bill Ulwelling
Trainer: Gary M. Scherer
Jockey: Mitchell Murrill

 

Ours To Run_12-8-2018-F
Ours To Run with Gabriel Saez aboard wins the 13th running of the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.
Please follow and like us:

Louisiana Champions Day Sprint

Louisiana Champions Day Sprint
Fair Grounds, 12-8-18, 6 furlongs
Three-Year-Olds and Upwards, $100,000

Givemeaminit_12-8-2018-F
Givemeaminit with jockey Corey Lanerie aboard outdoes Divine Bean to win the 28th running of the LA Champions Day Sprint. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

GIVEMEAMINIT
Star Guitar–Powerful Nation
Breeder: Clear Creek Stud LLC
Owner: Valene Farms LLC
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: Corey J. Lanerie

2nd
Divine Bean
Star Guitar–Good Human Bean
Breeder: Brittlyn, Inc.
Owner: Brittlyn Stable, Inc.
Trainer: Albert M. Stall, Jr.
Jockey: Colby J. Hernandez

3rd
Monte Man
Custom for Carlos–Sarah’s My Angel,
Breeder: Val C. Murrell
Owner: Ivery Sisters Racing
Trainer: Ron Faucheux
Jockey: Gabriel Saez

 

Please follow and like us:

Louisiana Champions Day Turf

Louisiana Champions Day Turf
Fair Grounds, 12-8-18, 8.5 furlongs (dirt)
Three-Year-Olds and Upwards, $100,000

Magic Vow_12-8-2018-F
Brittlyn Stable’s Magic Vow with James Graham aboard wins the 28th running of the Louisiana Champions Day Turf. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

MAGIC VOW
Private Vow–Whitewashed
Breeder: J. Adcock
Owner: Brittlyn Stable, Inc.
Trainer: Tyron Benoit
Jockey: James Graham

2nd
Theoryintopractice
Into Mischief–Cayman Colada
Breeder: Cypress Bend Farm
Owner: Courtney Barousse
Trainer: Corale A. Richards
Jockey: Colby J. Hernandez

3rd
Battle At Sea
Into Mischief–Mystery At Sea
Breeder: Clear Creek Stud LLC
Owner: Three Diamonds Farm
Trainer: Michael J. Maker
Jockey: Corey J. Lanerie

 

Please follow and like us:

Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile

Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile
Fair Grounds, 12-8-18, 6 furlongs
Two-Year-Olds, $100,000

 

Classy John_12-8-2018-F
Jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. aboard Classy John pulls away from the pack to win the 28th running of the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

CLASSY JOHN
Songandaprayer–Kitty’s Got Class
Breeder: Tom Curtis & Wayne Simpson
Owner: Valene Farms LLC
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.

2nd
Jimi’s a Star
Star Guitar–Unusual Strike
Breeder: James Boyd
Owner: James A. Boyd
Trainer: Henry B. Johnson, Jr.
Jockey: Emanuel Nieves

3rd
Calimambo
Calibrachoa–Mambo Lake
Breeder: J. Adcock & Hume Wornall
Owner: Phyllis J. Hodges
Trainer: James E. Hodges
Jockey: James Graham

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Louisiana Champions Day Lassie

Midnight Fantasy_F_12-8-2018
Midnight Fantasy, with Adam Beschizza aboard, won the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie at the Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, LA. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr

 

Louisiana Champions Day Lassie
Fair Grounds, 12-8-18, 6 furlongs,
Two-Year-Old Fillies, $100,000

MIDNIGHT FANTASY
Midnight Lute–St. Jean
Breeder: J. Adcock & Hume Wornall
Owner: Carl R. Moore Management LLC
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Adam Beschizza

2nd
Silvercents
Goldencents–Carl’s Frosty Girl
Breeder: Steve E Holliday
Owner: Johnny B. Evans and Terry Eoff
Trainer: Karl Broberg
Jockey: Sasha Risenhoover

3rd
Tiz the Faith
Tiz the One–Queen Imidala
Breeder: Larry Procell
Owner: Jonathan Goss
Trainer: Gilbert O. Perez, Jr.
Jockey: Jansen Melancon

 

Please follow and like us: