FOUR WIN SATURDAY AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS VERY SPECIAL FOR JOCKEY JOEL DOMINGUEZ

Bossier City, LA – Jockey Joel Dominguez is still smiling as he reflects on winning four races on Saturday’s seven-race card at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

His successful afternoon began in race two with Don Guillermo ($8) for trainer James “Sweet” Hodges and three for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen; All Bizness ($3); American Dream ($5) and Curlin Beauty ($11.80). Curlin Beauty, a 4-year-old daughter of Curlin, drew off to an eight-length score in her third career effort, but it was American Dream is a filly by Triple Crown champion American Pharoah that really impressed her rider.

“She’s still learning, but what a powerful filly,” stated Dominguez.

The 30-year-old Dominguez was born in Durango, Mexico, but never rode as a child. He was very athletic, playing soccer and was a standout boxer in his weight class. His experience in the saddle began in Kentucky, galloping for both Asmussen and veteran Kentucky-based conditioner, Neil Howard.

“Riding for Steve this meet means a great deal to me,” stated Dominguez. “When I was in Kentucky, I worked hard and tried to learn everything. As I progressed, Steve began to trust me galloping some of his top horses; I remember the first time I worked Rachel Alexandra. That was very special and gave me so much confidence!”

This is the fourth year Dominguez has been based at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. He began in 2017 as an apprentice, winning 31 races that year and returning in 2018, losing his bug on May 22, but transitioning smoothly to the journeyman ranks. Maybe more than smoothly as he won six races on the June 23, 2018 card at Louisiana Downs. But winning four races in this very challenging 2020 live racing season was an even bigger accomplishment.

“It hasn’t been easy,” he responded when asked about the impact of COVID-19. “When we were in quarantine, I just tried to get things done at the house and spend time with my family (wife Janet and two sons). I was missing getting on horses.”

The resumption of live racing on June 6 was a big relief to Dominguez and he has been winning plenty of races for this season for Asmussen. Misty Drinkwater is serving as assistant again this year and she appreciates what Dominguez brings to the Asmussen barn.

“He’s hard working and very professional, “she said. “We get along very well and he has been a big part of our team here.”

Dominguez is represented by former jockey, Don Simington and the two have a strong bond.

“Don gives me great advice and feedback,” explained Dominguez. “I admire that he is the first one to arrive in the morning and the last to leave. Trainers know him well and he works hard to book me on good horses.”

Dominguez won 91 races here last year, finishing second in the standings to Carlos Lozada who made 96 trips to the winner’s circle. He appreciates that the racing officials at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs have worked hard to maintain the recommended protocols for COVID-19.

“I ride with a mask and shield protector,” he said. “Everyone here is trying to make it safe for us, so each of the riders are making adjustments and doing what we need to do.”

 

 

Charity Golf Tournament Set for Thursday, August 20

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will host a Charity Golf Tournament at Northwood Hills Golf Club in Shreveport, Louisiana on Thursday, August 20.

The event will benefit Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk and The Backside Benevolence Fund, which provides valuable assistance to the Louisiana racing community and backstretch workers.

The 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 personor $320 for a four-person team.  The fee includes green fees, golf cart, lunch, and 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. 

The deadline for registration is August 13. For further information, please contact Jennifer Sokol at (318) 741-2512.

 

Louisiana Downs Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

Through July 25, Karl Broberg tops the trainer standings with 23 wins since the meet began on June 6. Steve Asmussen is second with 18 victories.  Last year’s leading conditioner Joey Foster is tied with Shane Wilson for third; both have 13 winners.  Joe O. Duhon and Ronnie P. Ward are tied with nine wins each.

Joel Dominguez, aided by his four-bagger on Saturday, has taken the lead in the jockey standings with 30 wins. Jack Gilligan, who rides first-call for Broberg, is second with 26 trips to the winner’s circle. Last year’s leading jockey Carlos Lozada has ridden 22 winners to date and Jose Guerrero rounds out the top four with 19 victories.

Steve Asmussen has moved into the lead in the owner standings with seven wins from 18 starts. End Zone Athletics Inc. has moved into the lead in the owner standings with 12 wins from 23 starts.  End Zone Athletics, Inc and Wayne T. Davis are tied for second with nine wins and horses owned by Ronnie P. Ward have won six races to date.

 

Post Times and Racing Dates

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

 

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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BRITISH JOCKEY JACK GILLIGAN ENJOYING SUCCESS AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Bossier City, LA – What’s the story behind the newest addition to the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs jockey colony?  Jack Gilligan has been one to watch since the meet began last month and his ear-to-ear grin in the winner’s circle is just a small part of his allure!

Through the first six weeks of the meet, the 23-year-old jockey has ridden 77 horses, with 21 wins, 14 seconds and 10 thirds. He’s currently tied with Joel Dominguez, who has been one of the top riders in Shreveport for the past four years.

Born in Newmarket, England, Gilligan’s father, Patrick, is a Thoroughbred trainer and it was not long before his son found a calling with horses.

“I was riding a pony from five on,” said Gilligan. “When I turned 13, I began exercising horses before and after school and on weekends.”

Gilligan was enrolled in the British Racing School at 14 years-old. He explained that he received one day off from high school each week to attend classes at the esteemed program for aspiring riders.

“We were taught every aspect of racing and caring for horses,” he explained. “It was a great foundation.”

He graduated in May, 2013 and two weeks later, at the age of 16, rode in his first race.

Interestingly, his father was born in New York, so with dual citizenship, Gilligan set his sights on a riding career in the United States. Just before he turned 18, he arrived in Lexington, Kentucky and began riding as an apprentice at Turfway Park. He was the third leading rider at Ellis Park and made the move to Louisiana for the 2017-2018 Fair Grounds meet. One of the horsemen who gave him some very good mounts was Bret Calhoun who entrusted him to ride Silver Dust. The victory for the son of Tapit, owned by Tom Durant in the 2019 Mineshaft at Fair Grounds was his first graded stakes.

His momentum was derailed on January 25 of this year when he was involved in a nasty spill at Fair Grounds, suffering at broken collarbone and seven facial fractures.

“I was out until the last week of the Fair Grounds meet,” said Gilligan. “I knew it would be hard for me to get mounts in Kentucky, so I stayed in Louisiana.”

His agent in Kentucky was Liz Morris, but in Louisiana, Gilligan is represented by veteran Richie Price. They were aiming for Lone Star Park, but the uncertainty of when their season would begin prompted Price to consider shifting to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. The enticement of riding for leading trainer Karl Broberg was icing on the cake.

“He’s a nice kid and is making the most of this meet,” stated Price, who is also handling mounts for apprentice Kody Kellenberger. “Jack is gaining a lot of confidence here.”

Broberg who has been the North American trainer in wins since 2014, is enjoying his association with the young jockey.

“I heard he was contemplating options and I needed a rider,” said Broberg. “I’m very pleased with Jack; he puts his horses in the right position, and we are winning races.”

Personality-wise, you would be hard-pressed to find two more different personality types than the irascible Broberg and the optimistic and upbeat Gilligan.

“He’s hilarious,” acknowledged Gilligan when asked about Broberg. “No filter whatsoever and tells it like it is. But he is fully invested in our industry and I am lucky to work with his assistant, Kevin Martin here at Louisiana Downs. He does a great job!

Gilligan loves the history, culture and food in Louisiana and recently bought a place in New Orleans. Now, riding afternoons with heat indexes in the 100’s is another story!

“The first weekend (in June) I thought I was going to die,” he said. “I got some relief by dunking my head in the ice bucket even though all the jocks were laughing at me.”

But he takes it all in stride because the camaraderie in the jocks room is very special.

“I was a little worried about fitting in, but everyone has been very friendly,” said Gilligan. “I love the atmosphere in the room and got command of the Cajun accent when I was in the same part of the Churchill Downs jocks room with Calvin Borel.  At first I didn’t understand half the words, but I’ve got them down now!”

 

Charity Golf Tournament Set for Thursday, August 20

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will host a Charity Golf Tournament at Northwood Hills Golf Club in Shreveport, Louisiana on Thursday, August 20.

The event will benefit Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk and The Backside Benevolence Fund, which provides valuable assistance to the Louisiana racing community and backstretch workers.

The 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 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.

 The deadline for registration is August 13. For further information, please contact Jennifer Sokol at (318) 741-2512.

 

 

Daily Racing Promotions and Daily Offers

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs welcomes patrons four days a week for live racing and daily simulcast wagering on racetracks across the country. Promotions and food and beverage specials include:

Monday Funday | Fill your cup for a buck at the Paddock Bar.

2X Tuesdays | Present your Caesars Rewards card when making a wager and receive a 2X racing reward credit multiplier each Tuesday.

Watch & Wager Wednesdays | Enjoy food, beverage and racing specials for $1.00 each!

Super Saturday| Enjoy a box seat for 4 with food and drinks for only $16. Present your Caesars Rewards card when making a wager and receive up to a 7X Racing Reward Credit Multiplier.  

 

Post Times and Racing Dates

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

 

 

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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SUCCESSFUL RETURN TO HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS FOR TRAINER SHANE WILSON

Bossier City, LA – When the 2020 Thoroughbred racing season got underway on June 6 at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, there were several new horsemen stabled at the Shreveport racetrack. The most successful of the group has been trainer Shane Wilson.

It is the first time in eight years that the Haughton, Louisiana native has shifted his base to Shreveport.  There was no hesitation when he was asked about returning for the meet.

“We were all in limbo several months ago,” said Wilson describing the impact of COVID-19 on the resumption of racing in Louisiana. “However (Director of Racing) David Heitzmann was the first to step up with a plan. We knew the early May date was not possible, but David set June 6 as the opening date at Louisiana Downs and quickly got the condition book posted.”

From that point, Wilson set his training schedule and “was ready to roll”.

In addition to the support from Heitzmann and his racing office staff, Wilson gives high marks to track superintendent, Billy McKeever, who oversees both the dirt oval and the Franks Turf Course.

“The main track is amazing,” said Wilson. “We arrived with some sore horses and they are now sound. Billy does an outstanding job.”

So far, it has worked out well for Wilson and his main owner, Wayne T. Davis. They are in second-place in the trainer and owner standings, trailing Karl Broberg and End Zone Athletics, Inc.

Wilson, 49, worked summers at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, starting when he was 15. He mucked stalls and hot walked for trainer Jack Van Berg. His brief foray to college did not last as he realized that he wanted to pursue a career in racing.  He served as assistant to Sam David for seven years before going out on his own in 1998.

His top horse is the multiple-stakes winning Mocito Rojo a 6-year-old son of Mutadda. Wilson claimed the Kentucky-bred for owner Wayne T. Davis for $10,000 in a December 2016 maiden race at Delta Downs. The six-time stakes winner has amassed a record of 17 wins from 30 starts and earnings of $818,063. In 2019, Mocito Rojo won the Steve Sexton Mile Stakes (G3) at Lone Star Park and the Lukas Classic Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. He returned to the Grand Prairie, Texas racetrack on Sunday, June 28, finishing fifth in the $75,000 Lone Star Mile.

“He never likes dirt in his face and came back covered by a half of an inch of sand,” said Wilson. “It would have been nice to win as it was my owner’s 91st birthday, but the horse cooled out fine and we made it back to Louisiana Downs late Sunday night.”

Davis, who resides in Plain Dealing, Louisiana, a small town in Bossier Parrish, is appreciative of the care Wilson gives each of his horses. His winners this meet at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs include Green Monster; Cap Roc Miner, Artic Peace, Lucky Dare and most recently, a five-length score by Luvmewhenimgone.

Another key member of the Wilson team is veteran jockey Filimon Rodriguez, who is a full-time employee. The 53-year-old has ridden on the Texas and Louisiana circuits for three decades. He gallops the 30 head of Wilson’s stabled at Louisiana Downs and rides the majority of the Wilson trainees in Shreveport.

Aside from his racing ties, Wilson has another notable connection to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. He met his wife, Becky, the daughter of horseman Jim O’Brien, here. The couple has two sons. Peyton is 19 years-old and his brother, Connor, 16, have both been helping their dad this summer.

“It’s a tough business,” stated Wilson.  “You have to make some very difficult decisions. I started the same time as some very successful horsemen, including good friend, Bret Calhoun. To reach a really high level, you have to travel, and I chose to stay in Louisiana to be closer to my family.”

He will ship select horses to Evangeline Downs this summer but is more than content to be stabled at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

“They showed their commitment to the horsemen,” he said. “So, I am happy to run here and support their meet.”

 

 

Charity Golf Tournament Set for Thursday, August 20

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will host a Charity Golf Tournament at Northwood Hills Golf Club in Shreveport, Louisiana on Thursday, August 20.

The event will benefit Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk and The Backside Benevolence Fund, which provides valuable assistance to the Louisiana racing community and backstretch workers.

The 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 t-shirt/cap.

“I am always so humbled to see all the support that the Golf Tournament brings to our ministry,” said Sistrunk. “The people in our industry take care of each other and this fundraising event is a great deal of fun for everyone!”

It is also an event that brings a lot of joy to the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs employees, including Jennifer Sokol, racing operations manager.

“We had an amazing turnout last year,” said Sokol. “Chaplain Jimmy does so much for our racing community and our annual charity golf tournament is such an enjoyable way to raise funds. We thank our horsemen and local businesses for their support and look forward to another successful event this year!”

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.

 The deadline for registration is August 13. For further information, please contact Jennifer Sokol at (318) 741-2512.

 

Louisiana Downs Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

Through June 29, Karl Broberg tops the trainer standings with 14 wins since the meet began on June 6.  Shane Wilson has saddled eight winners to move into second-place with Steve Asmussenthird with seven victories.  Patti Turner and Joe O. Duhon are tied for fourth-place with five winners each.

Jack Gilligan, who rides first-call for Broberg, has taken the lead over his fellow riders with 15 trips to the winner’s circle.  Joel Dominguez is also off to a solid start and follows closely with 14 wins. Jose Guerrero is third with 11 winners and last year’s leading jockey Carlos Lozada has ridden eight winners to date.

End Zone Athletics Inc. has moved into the lead in the owner standings with seven wins from 18 starts.  Wayne T. Davis is tied for second with Asmussen. Both have won five races this season.

 

 

Post Times and Racing Dates

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

 

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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