THE 2020 THOROUGHBRED RACING SEASON AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS GETS UNDERWAY ON SATURDAY, JUNE 6

Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Racing with 3:05 pm (CT) Post Time

 

Bossier City, LA – The 2020 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will commence on Saturday, June 6. The 64-day meet will run Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday through September 23. Post time will be 3:05 pm (Central).

 

The meet will be run spectator-free, until further notice, in accordance with sanctions by Governor John Bel EdwardsHarrah’s Louisiana Downs remains in constant communication with the Louisiana Department of Health on procedures and protocols to ensure the safety of horses, horsemen and essential employees.

 

Joey Foster Hopes to Defend His Trainer Title

Benton, Louisiana horseman Joey Foster set up shop in Louisiana back in 1992 and continues to be one of the top trainers at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. The very popular conditioner won his first title here in 2016, repeating the feat in 2017 and finishing second to Karl Broberg in 2018. He won 54 races last year here, adding another title.

He and his brigade of exercise riders have been prominent in morning works and Foster is hoping to get off to a good start when the Thoroughbred meet begins on Saturday.

“I might need some practice,” said Foster, who saddled his last racehorse in March at Fair Grounds. “We are all in the same boat; just need to take it one day at a time.”

Last year’s winners at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs included a mix of claiming and allowance horses, but his stakes stock is on the rise, topped by Our Lost Love, a Louisiana-bred daughter of Half Ours. Bred and owned by Tri-Star Racing LLC, she broke her maiden impressively here on September 14 before stepping up in class. She earned her first black-type victory on December 29 at Fair Grounds in the $100,000 Louisiana Futurity and won the $70,000 Take Charge Brandi at Delta Downs two months later.

“She’s doing well; we’re just looking for a race for her,” said Foster. “We’ve got some new stock for this meet, and great support from our owners.”

Heading into Saturday’s opening day card, Foster has five horses entered and looks poised to clinch his 800thcareer win.

Karl Broberg, finished second to Foster last year with 45 wins. Former jockey Beverly Burress finished the meet with 28 victories and Steve Asmussen and Jorge Lara tied for fourth with 20 winners each. Each will be back in action, joined by H. B. Johnson, James “Sweet” Hodges, Patti Turner, Ronnie Ward, Kathleen Mordenti and Steven Duke.

The backside is bustling with several new horsemen who have been granted stalls for the 2020 live racing season.Scott Gelner Brett Brinkman, Eduardo Rodriguez, Angel Cordero, Sarah Delany, F. Dewaine Loy, Becky LeBlanc, Eric Heitzmann and Shane Wilson are among the conditioners who will be stabled here.

“We were pleased with the interest of new outfits requesting stalls this meet at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing. “It has been a very challenging time in our industry, and we cannot say enough about the resilience of our Louisiana horsemen. We appreciate their loyalty and look forward to presenting a very competitive racing program.”

 

Competitive Jockey Colony Ready for Action

There will be a battle from start to finish for leading rider honors as several solid veterans will return to the jockey colony this season.

Carlos Lozada was dominant throughout the 2019 meet as he earned his first leading rider title. The 35-year-old native of Puerto Rico finished the meet with a record of 428 starts, 95 wins, 70 seconds and 52 thirds and purses of $1,076,410. He began riding in the United States in 2007 after attending Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocational Hipica, the famed jockey school with a noted list of riders, including Irad Ortiz, Jr, Jose Ortiz as well as 2018 Harrah’s Louisiana Downs top-ranked rider, Emanuel Nieves.

The soft-spoken rider gave credit to his agent, Ronald Ardoin, Louisiana Downs Hall of Fame jockey, who won 5,226 races in his illustrious career.

“There is no doubt that Ronald made a big difference for me,” said Lozada. “He works hard in the mornings and got me a lot of mounts. He was very helpful when I asked for advice.”

Previous title holders Emanuel Nieves and Gerardo Mora will ride as well as up and coming jockey Joel Dominguez, who finished second last year with 91 trips to the winner’s circle.

Jockey Aubrie Green finished third in the standings last year with 54 victories. Born in Idaho, the mother of three is improving in just her fifth year riding professionally. Green capped off 2019 campaign with a victory aboard Pound For Pound in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds. It was her biggest win to date, and she received plenty of well-deserved recognition for her skills in the saddle.

“Winning that race was surreal and a huge accomplishment for me,” she admitted.

However, her 2020 did not begin on a high note. She suffered an ankle injury that required extensive tendon surgery and just began working horses the second week of May at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

“I’m really excited to be back,” stated Green. “I have some great trainers who continue to support me and look forward to riding for Shane Wilson and Eric Heitzmann, who will run here this meet. It looks like I will also pick up a few for Joey Foster; he is a great trainer; hilarious too!”

Green is hoping that restrictions will be lifted in the near future so that fans can enjoy live racing.

“It’s important that we continue to grow our industry,” she added. “I grew up in a small town and never got a chance to go to the races. So, when I see a kid watching a race, I always try to talk to them and give them a set of goggles.”

 

 

Wagering Format

Racing fans will have plenty of exotic wagering options for the upcoming meet. Rolling daily doubles and Pick 3 wagers will begin on the first race. A Pick 4 wager will be offered on the last four races of the program as well as a Pick 5, covering the final five races. Also, a new Pick 6 Jackpot, with a minimum bet of .10 cents, beginning on the second race of the card, has been added. The final race of the day will have a Super High Five wager providing there is a seven horse field (or higher) entered.

 

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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HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS 2020 THOROUGHBRED LIVE RACING SEASON TO GET UNDERWAY ON SATURDAY, JUNE 6

 

The 64-Day Meet Will Run Through Wednesday, September 23

 

Bossier City, LA – The 2020 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, which was originally scheduled to begin on Saturday, May 2, will commence on Saturday, June 6. An emergency meeting of the Louisiana State Racing Commission took place on May 5 and unanimous approval for the revised opening date was granted.

Due to state mandates regarding COVID-19, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs concluded its 2020 Quarter Horse meet on Monday, March 16, two days ahead of the scheduled final date. Thoroughbreds have been training here since Monday, April 13 when a judge ruling allowed horsemen to be permitted on the grounds.

The stable area will open on May 6 for horsemen who have been allocated stalls for the 2020 Thoroughbred season.  Ship in hours will be from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm and trainers must contact Natalie Moses at (318) 820-8324 prior to shipping. No exceptions will be permitted.

“We appreciate the patience of all of our horsemen and wish them a safe transition in shipping their runners to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing. “This has been an incredibly difficult time for our industry, and we will all be grateful to see the return of live racing here next month.”

The meet will be run spectator-free, until further notice, in accordance with sanctions by Governor John Bel Edwards.  Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is in constant communication with the Louisiana Department of Health on procedures and protocols to ensure the safety of horses, horsemen and essential employees.

The first condition book will be available on Equibase in the near future. Further information on the Thoroughbred stakes schedule will be forthcoming, but officials have confirmed that the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby will not be contested in 2020.

The 64-day meet will continue through Wednesday, September 23 with live racing to run Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at 3:15 pm (Central).

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Judge Sides With Louisiana Horsemen, Allows Training

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

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

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

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

Read BloodHorse Article

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HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS FORCED TO CANCEL THE REMAINING TWO DAYS OF THE 2020 QUARTER HORSE MEET

Announcement Forthcoming on the Status of the $283,210 Harrah’s Entertainment Futurity (G3)

Bossier City, LA – In response to growing concerns and state mandates regarding COVID-19, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs announced that the remaining two days of the 2020 Quarter Horse meet have been canceled. The live racing season was supposed to conclude on Wednesday, March 18 with the running of the $283,210 Harrah’s Entertainment Futurity (G3).  An announcement on the status of the championship will be forthcoming.

 

The 44-day season closed following Monday’s card and included the presentation of the End of the Meet awards to the leading owner, trainer and jockey.

 

J & J Stables LLC was honored as leading owner of the meet.  It’s been a very good season for co-owners Juan J. Bazaldua and Jesus E. Del Bosque, who banded together in 2017 with a mutual interest in breeding and racing. Both are successful businessmen; Bazaldua founded Pollo Regio, which began as a food truck concept in Mexico and now has multiple locations throughout Texas. Del Bosque’s field is roofing; he owns Axl Metal Roofing, LLC. In 2017, they incorporated J & J Stables LLC. Their farm is located in Keithville, Louisiana, in Caddo Parish, south of Shreveport. They won nine races this meet, including three stakes victories by Fantasicazoom Jr, and a victory in the Swift Stakes by Ss Classyjess.  Four owners: Geral Dewitt, Jose Ortiz, Juan Antonio Carillo, Sr and Barbara Hieden Seber tied for second in the standings with seven wins each.

 

The partners have entrusted the training of their horses to Jose Carrizales. He is just 23-years-old but had a solid meet at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, earning the first leading trainer title of his career. He concluded the meet with 23 wins from 102 starts and purses of $172,862. Carrizales was the conditioner of J & J Stables LLC’s One Sweet Filly, who qualified for the $315,166 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2), finishing fifth in the final on March 14.

 

“These owners are good men and have been very supportive,” said Carrizales. “They have a farm and breed most of their horses. I get to work with them from the start, which I enjoy. Ricardo has done an excellent job for our barn; he is very experienced, and we work well together.”

 

Vann Haywood saddled 14 winners to finish second in the trainer standings and Lanny Keith, who won the title in 2019, was third with 13 wins.

 

Ricardo Hernandez, Jr. won the leading rider title with 33 wins, 29 seconds and 20 third-place finishes. His mounts earned $301,234 and he finished in the money at a 44% clip this season. He rode first call for Carrizales throughout the meet and guided Fantasticazoom Jr. for J & J Stables LLC to five victories this meet, included three stakes wins The veteran jockey finished fourth in the jockey standings here last year. Finishing second behind Hernandez was David Alvarez with 29 wins, following by John Hamilton, who made 26 trips to the winner’s circle.

 

“We thank our horsemen and fans for their support this season and wish that we had been able to fully complete our 2020 Quarter Horse meet,” said David Heitzmann, director of racing. “This was an unprecedented event in our world and very difficult time for the entire racing industry. We wish the best to all of our horsemen as the year progresses.”

 

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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Sokol Named Louisiana Downs Racing Operations Manager

Jennifer Sokol most recently served as racing office manager.

 

David Heitzmann, director of racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, announced that Jennifer Sokol has accepted the position of racing operations manager at the Shreveport racetrack. Sokol has been employed at Louisiana Downs since 2007, joining the racing office in 2012. She most recently served as racing office manager.

Her new duties will include supervision of the racing staff as well as overseeing handicapping seminars, racing promotions and other duties associated with the live Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred race meets.

“Jen Sokol has been a hard-working team member at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs and has served the racing office in many capacities,” said Heitzmann. “She has done a tremendous job for us and is very deserving of this promotion.”

Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk adds his appreciation for the time and energy that Sokol has devoted to assisting horsemen and the backside employees.

“Jen is always eager to get involved and has been so helpful in assisting our chaplaincy in fundraising efforts,” he said. “She goes above and beyond as has done so much, especially in our annual Golf Tournament and Backstretch Benevolence Fund Banquet.”

Sokol’s duties are effective February 14 and the native of Greenwood, Louisiana looks forward to her new role.

“Working with the horsemen and entire team at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs has been a very rewarding experience,” said Sokol. “Most people have no idea how much coordination is involved each day in organizing race cards and the charitable work we do, but I love it and am thrilled to continue my career with this great organization.”

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HARRAH’S LOUISANA DOWNS ANNOUNCES ITS 2020 QUARTER HORSE STAKES SCHEDULE

The Mardi Gras Futurity, the First Official Futurity of the Year, Set for March 14

 

Bossier City, LA – The 2020 Quarter Horse racing season will get underway at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs on Saturday, January 4. The 46-day meet will include 12 stakes highlighted by the first official futurity of the year, the $100,000-added Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2)on Saturday, March 14.

 

Last year’s $310,466 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) champion Egoizzta Partnership’s Hh Gailforce will compete in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile (RG2) on Saturday, December 14 at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.  Mardi Gras runner-up Tf Shez Jess Dashin, owned by Down South Racing LLC,  went on to win the $339,931 Lassie Futurity at Delta Downs.

 

In addition to the Mardi Gras Futurity for Louisiana-breds, the $75,000-added Harrah’s Futurity (G3) will be contested on March 18 and is an open 2-year-old championship. Cruz Nava’s Trump My Record was victorious this year and continued his exceptional campaign with wins in both the Sam Houston Futurity (G2) and Texas Classic Futurity (G1).  He will be one of the top contenders for AQHA Champion 2-year-old honors when their winners are announced in January.

 

Live racing will be conducted Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with a 1:00 p.m. (Central) post time through March 18.

 

The barn area will open on Saturday, December 19 with training hours set from 6:30 am – 10:30 am. Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will also offer schooling races for 2-year-olds paid into the Mardi Gras Futurity as well as the Harrah’s Entertainment Futurity.

 

“We have received strong interest from returning horsemen including Lanny Keith, Vann Haywood, Orlando Orozco, Kenneth Roberts, Sr. and Martin Trejo,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing. “Several new conditioners, including Heath Taylor, Robert Touchet, and Shane Mason have been assigned stalls this year.”

 

 

 

Louisiana Downs 2020 Quarter Horse Stakes Schedule

 

January 4         $15,000 Harrah’s Dash                       4 YO & Up                 350 yards

January 11       $15,000 Marathon Stakes                   4 YO & Up                   870 yards

January 18       $25,000 Billy Montgomery                3 YO LA-Bred             350 yards

January 25       $15,000 Swift Stakes                         4 YO & Up                    350 yards

$25,000 Party Girl Stakes         4 YO & Up F&M  LA-bred   330 yards

 

February 1       $25,000 Magnolia Stakes                   3 YO & Up LA-Bred   870 yards

February 8       $15,000-added LAD Maiden Stake       3,4 & 5 YO LA-Bred   350 yards

February 15     $25,000 Mr Jess Perry (RG3)             4 YO & Up LA-Bred   330 yards

 

March 14         $100,000-added Mardi Gras Futurity    2 YO LA-Bred             300 yards

$50,000-added Mardi Gras Derby         3 YO   LA-Bred           400 yards

$15,000 Leverne Perry Memorial       3 YO & Up                  400 yards

 

March 18         $75,000-added Harrah’s Futurity          2 YO                       300 yards 

2020 Quarter Horse Trial Dates

 

January 18                               Louisiana Downs Maiden Stake

February 22                             Mardi Gras Futurity

February 23                             Mardi Gras Derby

March 1                                   Harrah’s Futurity

 

 

2020 Schooling Race Dates

 

January 31                               Mardi Gras Futurity

February 7                               Harrah’s Entertainment Futurity

 

 

 

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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HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS ANNOUNCES POLICY ON HORSES SHIPPING FROM OKLAHOMA

Bossier City, LA – Due to the outbreak of EHV-1 in Oklahoma City, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will not allow horses from Remington Park or Will Rogers Downs to access its grounds. This decision was made on Friday, November 21 and will be in effect until further notice.

As widely reported,  cases of  Equine Herpesvirus 1 (EHV-1)  were confirmed at Remington Park beginning on November 12.  Currently, there is no live racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, but the Bossier City racetrack serves as a training center for horsemen in between race meets. This was introduced in November, 2018 following the closure of the Evangeline Training Center.

“In order to protect our current horse population, we felt it was necessary to issue this policy,” said Eric Halstrom, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Vice President of Operations. “ Should horsemen have any question regarding this change in policy those inquiries should be directed to Louisiana Downs’ Director of Racing, David Heitzmann, or Stall Superintendent, Natalie Ardoin.”

The 2020 Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Quarter Horse meet will commence on Saturday, January 4.

Currently, the racetrack is open for training six days a week with full amenities including a clocker, outrider and ambulance service.  Security in the stable area is 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 is 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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CARLOS LOZADA, JOEY FOSTER AND END ZONE ATHLETICS, INC TOP THE STANDINGS FOR THE 2019 THOROUGHBRED MEET AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Bossier City, LA – The 2019 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, which got underway on May 4, concluded on Wednesday, September 25. The meet leaders, Carlos Lozada, Joey Foster and End Zone Athletics, Inc., were honored for their accomplishments on the final afternoon of the 84-day meet.

Both major racing events, Louisiana Cup Day on August 3 and Super Derby Day, which took place September 7, featured excellent fields. For the second year in a row, Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen won the richest race of the season, the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby with Rotation. The son of Tapit, bred and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC, rallied strongly for his first graded stakes score under jockey Richard Eramia.

One of the most memorable events of the season was the creation of the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Racing Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place on Saturday, July 13 with  John Franks; Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr.;  Frank L. Brothers; C.W. Walker; Ronald Ardoin, Larry Snyder; Sunday Silence andFree Spirits Joy inducted into the inaugural class.

Voting for one additional Hall of Fame member in several categories was offered to the fans and they elected trainer Bobby Barnett, jockey Calvin Borel; former general manager Tom Sweeney as well as the incomparable Alysheba as additional inductees.

Officials also introduced a new wager, Super Tuesday Pick 4, on Tuesday, June 25.  The wager teamed two Caesar’s Entertainment racetracks: Harrah’s Louisiana Downs and Indiana Grand Racing and Casino, which both offer Tuesday matinee racing programs. Two races each Tuesday from both racetracks were selected and offered to fans at a reduced takeout of 15%.

“We were thrilled to induct honor such outstanding horses and trailblazers into our Racing Hall of Fame,”said Eric Halstrom, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs vice president of operations.  “The fan vote was very well-received and we will certainly offer that again in 2020. It was also a great beginning for the Super Tuesday Pick 4, which gave us an opportunity to attract new fans as we teamed with the talented and innovative team at Indiana Grand.”

 

Carlos Lozada Wins His First Leading Rider Title

Carlos Lozada was dominant throughout the meet, topping a very competitive jockey colony to claim his first ever leading rider title. The 34-year-old native of Puerto Rico finished the meet with a record of 428 starts, 95 wins, 70 seconds and 52 thirds and purses of $1,076,410.

He began riding in the United States in 2007 after attending Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocational Hipica, the famed jockey school with a noted list of riders, including Irad Ortiz, Jr, Jose Ortiz as well as 2018 Harrah’s Louisiana Downs top-ranked rider, Emanuel Nieves.

The soft-spoken rider was the 17th-ranked rider in 2018 at Louisiana Downs, but united with former jockey and highly successful agent, Ronald Ardoin, this year.

“There is no doubt that Ronald made a big difference for me,” said Lozada. “He works hard in the mornings and got me a lot of mounts. He won so many races in his career and was very helpful when I asked for advice.”

One of the biggest wins of the meet came on Super Derby Day when Lozada guided Sugarland Thoroughbreds LLC’s homebred Eskenformore to victory in the $60,000 River Cities at odds  of 30-1.  He had ridden the 6-year-old mare, trained by James Hodges, and explained his change of tactics in winning the turf feature.

“I rode her like I knew her,” stated Lozada. “I felt she needed to be closer to the lead and knew she had plenty left for the finish.”

Winning leading rider honors at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs meant a great deal to the devoted family man, supported by his wife, Eileen Quinones and their three sons: Anthony, Jean Carlos and Jandriel.

“I was a little nervous toward the end,” he acknowledged. “Providing for my family is most important to me, but I want to thank every owner and trainer who believed in me and gave me the opportunity to win my first title!”

Lozada will head to Delta Downs for their upcoming Thoroughbred meet, which gets underway on Tuesday, October 8.

It was also a very successful season for Joel Dominguez, who finished second with 91 trips to the winner’s circle, edging Lozada in purses, with mounts earning $1,091,671. Dominguez, who was third in the standings last year, is represented by retired rider Don Simington. Jockey Aubrie Green finished third with 54 victories; a solid step up from her seventh-place finish here in 2018.  Richard Eramia and Hector Del-Cid tied for fourth with 47 trips to the winner’s circle.

 

 

Joey Foster Wins His Third Louisiana Downs Leading Trainer

Benton, Louisiana horseman Joey Foster picked up his third leading trainer title at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, winning 54 races from 218 starters to top his fellow conditioners this meet.

The very popular trainer won his first title here in 2016, repeating the feat in 2017 and finishing second to Karl Broberg last year. He saddled a mix of claiming and allowance horses throughout the meet, with standouts including Mizztic Tale, who won three of his four starts this meet for owners Brett Day and Kevin Spretz. Also, Play on Becky picked up her third victory of the season on Wednesday, September 25 for her breeder and owner Jim Horton.

“I want to thank each of my owners for their support,” said Foster. “They are the ones that put the show on; training horses is the easy part, but keeping great owners is key.”

Foster also acknowledged his wife, Cheryl, who he refers to as “the backbone” of the barn, and the hard work of assistant trainer, Amaniel Ortiz, affectionately known as “Shorty”.

The Foster trainees will head to Delta Downs as well as Fair Grounds. Foster cited Our Lost Love, a 2-year-old filly Louisiana-bred daughter of Half Ours, as one of his runners to watch. Bred and owned by Tri-Star Racing LLC, she broke her maiden impressively here on September 14.

“She ran a great race and earned an 83 Beyer (speed figure),” said Foster. “We will run her on Louisiana Champions Day (December 14) at Fair Grounds.”

Last year’s leading conditioner, Karl Broberg, finished second with 45 wins. Beverly Burress, who saddled 18 winners last year, finished the meet with 28 victories, including a stakes score with Run Rocket in the $60,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin on the Super Derby card. Steve Asmussen and Jorge Lara tied for fourth with 20 winners each.

 

Leading Owner Title Goes to End Zone Athletics, Inc.

End Zone Athletics, Inc. repeated as owner of the meet, and unlike last year, when the title went down to the final day, the national leader held a comfortable lead throughout the meet.  The highly successful partnership of Karl Broberg and Matt Johanson won 25 races this meet to earn leading owner honors.

“I want to thank Darwin Quevado, my assistant at Louisiana Downs for all he has done,” said Broberg.  “We used quite a few riders, but I was pleasantly surprised by Aubrie Green.”

Broberg confirmed that he will send a string to Delta Downs for their upcoming Thoroughbred meet and will also have a barn at Fair Grounds when their season gets underway.

Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. was second in the standings with 14 wins and horses owned by Ronnie P. Ward made 11 trips to the winner’s circle. Indian Creek Thoroughbred Farms, LLC and Penny Scarberry tied for fourth with ten wins in the 2019 Thoroughbred meet.

 

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs to Offer Training and Stall Space to Horsemen

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is pleased to offer horsemen an opportunity to train and stable their Thoroughbreds during the months of October, November and December.

When the Evangeline Training Center closed in 2018, officials acknowledged that many Louisiana Thoroughbred trainers were in need of a facility to stable and train their racehorses.  The Bossier City-Shreveport metroplex offers convenient proximity for shipping to Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana; Fair Grounds in New Orleans; Remington Park in Oklahoma as well as upcoming live meets at Sam Houston Race Park and 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.

 

Quarter Horse Racing Returns to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs on January 4

The 2020 Quarter Horse dates for Harrah’s Louisiana Downs have been approved. The 46-day meet will commence on  Saturday, January 4 and continue through Wednesday, March 18.

 

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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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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