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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Louisiana Horsemen Assess Storm Damage

Louisiana horsemen were spending the morning of Aug. 27 checking in on one another and assessing any damage after Hurricane Laura battered the state’s coastline overnight.

Karl Broberg, who has finished as the leading trainer by wins in North America multiple times, said his farm near Delta Downs in Vinton, La., sustained heavy damage but no workers or horses were injured. He said there was significant flooding, but the turned-out horses were fine on higher ground.

“It’s draining pretty fast, but there’s still about a foot of water on some parts of the property,” Broberg said. “There’s extensive damage, but all things considered, we’re alright. It just seems that we’re seeing more and more of these powerful hurricanes.”

According to multiple news outlets, the hurricane was listed as a Category 4 storm as it reached landfall near Lake Charles, La., and as of 9:30 a.m. Aug. 27 a number of news sites said the storm was still at Category 2 level as it traveled inland.

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Delta Downs Suffers Serious Damage in Hurricane, Opening to be Postponed

By Bill Finley

While no horses or people suffered major injuries as a result of Hurricane Laura, the storm produced serious damage to Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana, leaving the facility in such bad shape that its director of racing operations Chris Warren said there was no chance the track would be able to begin its Thoroughbred meet on time.

“This meet is supposed to start Oct. 6. That isn’t going to happen,” Warren said. “There’s no way. When it will happen, I have no idea.”

“There’s debris and sheet metal everywhere,” he said. “The tote board got demolished. It collapsed and is completely gone. Our camera towers are gone, so is our holding barn. The starting gates got completely turned over and the light poles are torn up. The whole backside rail is pretty much ruined. There’s just a lot of damage and it is everywhere.”

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LTBA Office Open with Limited Service

The LTBA office is open today, August 25, 2020. However, with Hurricane Laura looming in the Gulf of Mexico, our computers remain out of service in order to protect the breeders’ data.

LTBA Executive Director Roger Heitzmann is in the office today to take care of any business that can be handled strictly by phone. He is monitoring the weather situation and plans to re-install computer operations as soon as he can be confident that Hurricane Laura is no longer a threat. All computers are backed up and the servers are in secure locations. With the unpredictability of hurricanes, the LTBA believes it is in everyones best interest to keep the computers offline at this time.

While Hurricane Marco has been thankfully downgraded, we encourage all to keep your guard up and continue to prepare for Hurricane Laura which is currently predicted to make landfall on the Texas/Louisiana border as a Category 2 or 3 hurricane. This can still have serious weather hazards all across the state.

The LTBA will update our status as conditions change. Thank you for your patience, and continued prayers for the safety of our members.

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