HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS LEADING TRAINER JOEY FOSTER RETURNS WITH A HEAVY HEART

Bossier City, LA – The 2018 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs got underway on Saturday, May 5.  It was a bittersweet beginning of the meet for 2016-2017 leading trainer Joey Foster.

 

The Vinton, Louisiana resident topped all conditioners with 301 starters and a record of 68 wins, 55 seconds and 48 third-place finishes in 2017.  He had won the 2016 meet with 41 wins, after finished third in the standings in 2015 with 39 wins.  His stakes winners last year included Big Game Baby, in the $75,000 Elge Rasberry and Illusionofreality, who kept her four-race win streak alive in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff.

And while he hopes to continue to build on his momentum this season, Foster, along with the entire Louisiana Downs racing community, faced an unspeakable tragedy last month involving one of his exercise riders, Amaniel Ortiz.  A tornado hit Haughton, a community just east of Bossier City, around midnight, at the Hill Crest Mobile Home & RV Park on Highway 80. His daughter, Carly Stephanie Ortiz Osorio, 2, was killed when a large tree fell on the family’s camper.

“It was beyond what words can describe,” said Foster. “It’s stuff that you see on TV but can never imagine that it can happen to someone you know.”

A memorial service took place on Tuesday, April 17 at Hill Crest Memorial Funeral Home in Haughton and Carly was laid to rest.  Ortiz and his wife,  Delfa, have a 1-year-old daughter named Maddie.

Ortiz has been employed by Foster for the past eight years. Affectionately dubbed “Shorty” by the trainer, he is now back to morning works at the barn.

“He works for me from 6:00 to 8:00 am and then gets home,” explained Foster. “Mornings are really tough for Delfa and he needs to be there for her.”

Foster credits Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk and everyone at Louisiana Downs for banding together to assist the Ortiz family.

“That part was amazing,” added Foster. “You expected everyone here to show their support, but people all over the country responded with donations and letters.”

Sistrunk has been in daily contact with the Ortiz family and admits that in his fifteen years of serving as a Chaplain, he had never dealt with such a heartbreaking catastrophe. However, he was encouraged by the unprecedented outpouring of support, both locally and nationally for the Ortiz family.

“It was so touching for me to see the generosity and compassion from people all over the United States when they heard about Carly,” said Sistrunk. “People in the racing community are always quick to lend a helping hand, but this was very special.”

Sistrunk adds that donations are still needed for furniture and many other items that were destroyed by the force of the tornado. Anyone wishing to assist the family can mail a check payable to the Winner’s Circle Fund for the Ortiz Family and send it to the Winner’s Circle Church, P.O. Box 157, Princeton, LA, 71067.

John McGary Back as the Voice of Louisiana Downs

Track announcer John McGary returned to the booth for his fourth season at Louisiana Downs. McGary, 52, was the announcer at Evangeline Downs for ten years and now divides his time between Louisiana Downs and announcing the races at Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico in the fall. He and his wife, Julie, make their home in Bossier City.

 

“We had a great opening day,” said McGary. “There was a fantastic turnout on Saturday for the Derby and I called my first turf race on the Monday card; the course looked really good!

 

McGary is looking forward to the marquee race of the Louisiana Downs meet, the Grade 3, $300,00 Super Derby, which is set for September 2.

 

“I love the decision to move it to the Sunday of Labor Day weekend,” he added. “It’s perfectly placed on a major stakes weekend. It will give us an opportunity to really shine.”

 

Mother’s Day Diamond Dig This Saturday

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will celebrate Mother’s Day on Saturday, May 12.  Live racing gets underway at 3:15pm. Mothers can swipe their Total Rewards card in to the Diamond Dig drawing at the Racing Kiosk located across from Racing Publications. Ten entrants will be drawn for a chance to dig on the racetrack for a Diamond Ring valued at $2,500! One lucky Mom will celebrate with the gorgeous diamond and nine others will walk away with a Cubic Zirconia Ring. The Mother’s Day Diamond Dig will take place following the seventh and final race of the day.

 

Post Times and Stakes Schedule

Live racing will be conducted Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday with a 3:15 p.m. (Central) post time through September 27.

 

The 84-day meet will include 14 stakes highlighted by two major events, Louisiana Cup Day on Saturday, August 4 and Super Derby Day on Sunday, September 2. As previously announced one major change for the upcoming season is that the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby will return to the main track at a distance of mile and one-sixteenth on Sunday, September 2.

 

Wednesday and Saturday Race Day Promotions

Louisiana Downs offers value for racing fans each Wednesday with Dollar Day. They will be able to enjoy $1 hot dogs, $1 beer at the Paddock as well as $1 programs. Saturday’s weekly promotion is the Family Four Pack featuring four hot dogs, four sodas, a program, and a box seat for four at the affordable price of just $16.

 

The Total Rewards program is free for horseplayers. With the swipe of their card each Saturday, members will receive valuable incentives.  These include:

  • Play $250 or more to receive a 5X multiplier
  • Play $1,000 or more to receive a 7X multiplier
  • Play $5,000 or more to receive a 10X multiplier

Participant’s multiplier cannot exceed a total balance of more than one hundred thousand (100,000) Reward Credits during one promotional day after the multiplier is applied.

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.

For further information, please contact:

Trent McIntosh  |  Assistant General Manager
318-752-6980
8000 East Texas Street | Bossier City, LA 71111
www.caesars.com
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HANDLE INCREASE OF 12% NOTED IN THE THE 2017 THOROUGHBRED RACING MEET AT HARRAH’S LOUISANA DOWNS

Joey Foster, Gerardo Mora and Jorge Gomez Earn Titles

Bossier City, LA – The 2017 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs concluded with a nine-race card on Wednesday, September 27.  The 84-day meet, which got underway on May 6, wrapped with positive gains in handle and officials were pleased with the transition to a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday racing schedule.

Louisiana Downs handled $67 million throughout the meet, an increase of 12% in handle from the 2016 live Thoroughbred racing season.

“We are grateful for the continued support of our horsemen throughout the 2017 meet,” said Trent McIntosh, Louisiana Downs assistant general manager. “The change in our schedule was well received by horseplayers on track and by simulcast fans watching and wagering across the country.”

Sunny skies graced both major racing events, the Louisiana Cup Day on Saturday, August 5 and Super Derby Day on Saturday, September 9.  Flurry Racing Stables Mr. Misunderstood captured both the Prelude and $200,000 Super Derby and will make his next start in Saturday’s   Jefferson Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs, according to trainer Brad Cox.             

Joey Foster Repeats as Leading Trainer

Joey Foster has been firing on all cylinders this meet and defended his title in commanding fashion. The Vinton, Louisiana resident topped all conditioners with 301 starters and a record of 68 wins, 55 seconds and 48 third-place finishes. Foster was the meet’s top trainer last year with 41 wins, after finished third in the standings in 2015 with 39 wins.  His stakes winners this year included Big Game Baby, in the $75,000 Elge Rasberry and Illusionofreality, who kept her four-race win streak alive in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff.

“I am very blessed to have this success,” said Foster. “This meet has been great for me and my owners. Both track surfaces are well maintained and safe. I have to commend (track superintendent) Billy McKeever for doing a super job. To me, Louisiana Downs is the prettiest track in the state and I am grateful to have won the title again this year.”

H.B. Johnson finished in second place with 27 wins. Ronnie Ward saddled 18 winners and Sarah Delany rounded out the top four conditioners with 16 wins.

 

Gerardo Mora Wins His First Louisiana Downs Leading Rider Title

Gerardo Mora made the most of his second year competing in Bossier City topping a very competitive jockey colony to emerge as the meet’s top rider. The 25-year-old jockey is respected for his well-timed finishes and versatility in mastering both the turf and main track and finished the meet with a record of 477 starts, 77 wins, 81 seconds and 65 thirds.

Born in Palestine, Texas, Mora had family ties to racing as his uncle, Adrian Ramos, was a veteran rider on the Louisiana and Texas circuit. He made his debut at Sam Houston Race Park as an apprentice in 2011 and earned two leading rider titles there as well as Retama Park. Mora was third in the standings last year, but had plenty of business this year and was well represented by his agent, Ronald Ardoin, who was one of the most successful jockeys in Louisiana.

“I want to thank each of the trainers, owners for believing in me,” said Mora. “Last year was a good start for me at Louisiana Downs. When I started the meet, horsemen knew me and gave me a lot of opportunities and Ronald did a great job with my book. He’s the man!” 

Aubrie Green continued her strong showing, beginning the meet as an apprentice, but losing no business once she lost her bug. She finished in second place with 64 trips to the winner’s circle.Richard Eramia, who was on top for much of the season before he departed to ride at Remington Park, was third with 59 victories.  Jose Guerrero rounded out the top four with 57 wins.

Next up for Mora is Delta Downs for their meet which gets underway on October 18.

 

Jorge Gomez Honored as Leading Owner  

The very tight battle for leading owner honors concluded on the final day of the meet with Jorge Gomez finishing on top with 12 wins.  Horses owned by Gomez made 114 starts, with Ty Diesel, Blue Choice and Concho posting multiple wins.  This was the first leading owner title for Gomez, who resides in Bossier City, Louisiana and will head to Fair Grounds next.

“I want to thank my crew and my jockey, Alexander Castillo,” said Gomez. “They each helped me in winning my first leading owner title.”

Red Rose Racing followed closely with 11 wins and Patti Turner, Beverly Burress, Jamie C.  Pastor, William K. Harris, Dream Walkin Farms, Inc., Terrell Jarret, Jr. and Anthony Faulk each won nine races each in the 2017 Thoroughbred meet.

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.

For further information, please contact:

Trent McIntosh  |  Assistant General Manager
318-752-6980
8000 East Texas Street | Bossier City, LA 71111
www.caesars.com
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TRAINER JOEY FOSTER SITTING ON A RECORD YEAR AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Bossier City, LA – Trainer Joseph M. Foster is a force to be reckoned with at Louisiana Downs.    “Joey” as he is known to fellow racetrackers, is a man of few words, but a work ethic not surpassed by many.

Well-known at the Bossier City racetrack, Foster stands alone at the top of the trainer standings for the 2017 Thoroughbred racing season, which began on May 6. He has enjoyed an enduring history at Louisiana Downs with a myriad of wins, including his first career victory by Striker J. scoring an upset at 32-1 on May 14, 1992.

Over the past 25 years, the native of Arkansas, has saddled 4,705 horses, winning 643 races with purses topping $10 million. It took Foster ten years to reach the $1 million mark in earnings, but he has done that for the past six years with runners mostly at the claiming and allowance levels. Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs, Evangeline Downs and Oaklawn Park have been Foster’s mainstay tracks, but he also has fond memories of running at Aksarben in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Aksarben was special,” said Foster. “It was run by a non-profit group and the people in Nebraska loved racing. The support to horsemen was unbelievable. They kept the place very clean; would come paint the barn area, mow the lawn and do whatever they could do to help. Legends of racing ran there and the fans were amazing.”

The highlight of the Louisiana Downs meet his year came on Louisiana Cup Day, Saturday, August 5. Illusionofreality, a 4-year-old daughter of Yankee Gentleman, notched her fourth win a row and first stakes of her career for Foster and owners Maury and Leslie Harrington.

 

Drawing the 13 hole in a mile and one-sixteenth turf event is not what most horsemen would ask for, but with nice rating from regular rider Alexander Castillo, Foster’s talented filly was able to hold off a late charge from Safari Calamari and become a stakes winner.

 

“It worked for us that day,” said Foster, said of the post. “I was really happy to win a stakes for the Harringtons. They are two of the nicest people I have ever known and have been with me for a while.”

 

Maury Harrington purchased Hometown Gossip, a filly by Milwaukee Brew for $7,500 at the 2011 Breeders’ Sales Company of Louisiana Yearling Sale. She earned over $200,000 for the Harringtons and Foster before she was claimed.  Foster enjoys that part of racing and points to Drinking Fund as one of his most astute claims. He cites his good fortune on January 20, 2012 at Delta Downs when he claimed the Louisiana-bred filly for $5,000.

 

“We claimed her for $5,000 and she won over $285,000,” stated Foster.

 

Nationally accomplished conditioner Brad Cox won three of the nine stakes on Louisiana Cup Day, but it was also a very good showing for the local horsemen.  H. B. Johnson, currently second in the standings, saddled Berniestrike, winner of the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Turf Classic and Sunny Oak wired the field in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint for Louisiana horseman Edward Johnston.

 

“It’s always nice to win the bigger races at your home track,” added Foster. “H. B. had a good win and Eddie won with his filly too.”

 

Illusionofreality will train up to the $60,000 River Cities on Super Derby Day.

 

Foster has already surpassed his 41 winners from last year’s leading trainer title at Louisiana Downs, and looks very likely to pick up his second trophy when the meet concludes on September 27. He was third in 2015 with 39 wins, so slowly, but surely, Foster has risen up the ranks.

 

“We’ve been knocking on the door,” acknowledged Foster. “I’ve been down here for a lot of years, so it’s nice to see things going well.”

 

Special Noon Post Time for Super Derby Day

The marquee day of the 2017 Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred meet is Super Derby Day onSaturday, September 9.  Officials announced that post time for the stakes-filled card will be 12:00 pm (Central).  Nominations will close on August 26 for the following featured events:

$60,000 Unbridled                                          3 YO & Up                             1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 River Cities                                       3 YO & Up F&M                    1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 Happy Ticket                                    2 YO Fillies                             One Mile (T)

$60,000 Sunday Silence                                 2 YO                                       One Mile (T)

$50,000 Tellike                                               3 YO & Up F&M                   5 Furlongs (T)

$50,000 Need for Speed                                 3 YO & Up                             5 Furlongs (T)

$200,000 SUPER DERBY                             3 YO                                       1 1/16 miles (T)

Louisiana Downs Trainer and Jockey Standings

Through August 14, last year’s leading trainer Joey Foster continues to hold a commanding lead over his fellow conditioners with 44 wins. H. B. Johnson is second with 21 wins to date and Ronnie Ward is in sole possession of third place with 13 wins. Donald Melancon follows in fourth; he has each saddled 12 winners.

 

Richard Eramia continues to lead his fellow riders with 59 wins. Gerardo Mora won nine races last week and is in second place in the standings with 49 trips to the winner’s circle. Apprentice Aubrie Green has piloted 43 winners and Jose Guerrero follows closely with 42 wins.

Patti Turner tops the leaderboard in the owner standings with nine wins.  Jamie C. Pastor moved into second-place with eight victories and Beverly Burress, Jorge Gomez, Red Rose Racing, Maury and Leslie Harrington, Phyllis Hodges, Anthony Faulk and Terrell Jarrett, Jr. each have won seven races in the 2017 Thoroughbred meet.          

            

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.

For further information, please contact:

Trent McIntosh  |  Assistant General Manager
318-752-6980
8000 East Texas Street | Bossier City, LA 71111
www.caesars.com
Please follow and like us: