STEVE ASMUSSEN TOPS BOTH THE TRAINER AND OWNER STANDINGS FOR THE 2020 THOROUGHBRED MEET AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Jockey Joel Dominguez Clinches His First Leading Rider Title

 

Bossier City, LA – The 2020 Thoroughbred racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, which got underway one month late due to COVID-19, wrapped up on Saturday, September 26. Eleven races were contested today: three from Tuesday, September 22 and eight races from the Wednesday, September 23 card which were canceled due to heavy rain from Tropical Storm Beta.

 

Steve Asmussen Wins Both Leading Trainer and Owner Titles

Steve Asmussen. Coady Photography

It’s been quite a summer for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen who claimed both leading trainer and owner of the meet titles at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

As a trainer, Asmussen started 124 runners, winning 41 races and adding 22 seconds and 23 thirds. He sent a combination of maidens, claimers and allowance entrants, doing well on both the main track and Franks Turf Course. Rue Lala, owned by William and Corinne Heiligbrodt in partnership with Spendthrift Farm LLC, broke her maiden here impressively on September 5 and wheeled back in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies, finishing a game second to multiple stakes winner Mirabeau.

“She is a very nice Louisiana-bred,” said Asmussen. “The Heiligbrodts were one of my first owners and their support means a great deal to me.”

Asmussen credited the racing officials at Louisiana Downs as well as the track surfaces.

“Louisiana Downs stepped up when other tracks were trying to figure out when they might be able to open,” stated Asmussen. “They have excellent track surfaces, which is one of the reasons we support Louisiana Downs and are proud of this accomplishment.”

For the second year in a row, Karl Broberg, finished second with 38 wins. However, Broberg did edge Asmussen in purses with his runners banking $448,275 over $423,440 earned by Asmussen’s string.  Shane Wilson who had not stabled at Louisiana Downs for the past eight years, won 32 races and 2019 leading conditioner Joey Foster rounded out the top four, saddling 24 winners.

Asmussen was able to top his fellow owners with 19 wins from 52 starts. His horses won 37% of their starts with earnings of $147,835.

Wayne T. Davis finished second in the owner standings with 17 wins. His horses earned $188,405 and are conditioned by Shane Wilson. End Zone Athletics, Inc. won 16 of their 75 starts with Tri-Star Racing LLC and M and M Racing finishing in a tie for fourth with nine victories each.

September has been not only successful, but historical for Asmussen as on Friday, September 17, he won his 9,000th career victory with Troy Ounce at Remington Park. He is now second to Dale Baird, who holds the North American record for training wins with 9,445. Over the summer, Asmussen has won races at Saratoga, Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, Lone Star Park, Remington Park and Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

“I believe I won one previous title at Louisiana Downs, but it might have been a year that the Fair Grounds meet was run in Shreveport,” he said.

Asmussen credits assistants Mitch Dennison, who coordinated the Louisiana Downs entries and other duties from his Kentucky base and Misty Drinkwater, who is in her second year of handling the day-to-day duties at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

“Misty deserves a great deal of credit,” added Asmussen. “She is extremely organized and does a fabulous job with our Louisiana runners.”

 

Joel Dominguez Wins His First Leading Rider Title

Joel Dominguez. Hodges Photography.

Jockey Joel Dominguez has made the most of his four-year tenure at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
The 30-year-old native of Durango, Mexico began in 2017 as an apprentice, winning 31 races that year and returning in 2018, losing his bug, but finishing third in the standings as he transitioned to the journeyman ranks. He improved to second last year, but powered to the lead early in the 2020 meet and built an unsurpassable lead over his fellow riders. Dominguez completed the meet with a record of 71 wins, 59 seconds, 50 thirds and $903,325 in purses.

He rode first call for Steve Asmussen this season, who he galloped for in Kentucky when he first came to the United States. His highlights this meet included winning four races on the July 25 card, which included three wins for Asmussen and one for trainer James “Sweet” Hodges.

On Saturday, September 19, Dominguez won two of the six Louisiana Cup Stakes, coming from off the pace aboard Budro Talking for Keith Austin in the Turf Classic and finishing the card with an upset aboard Saltee Stark from the barn of Joe O. Duhon in the Louisiana Cup Sprint.

“I want to thank Steve and all the trainers who put me on mounts,” said Dominguez. “When I was in Kentucky, I worked for Steve and trainer Neil Howard. 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! Neil helped me get my license and we still stay in touch.”

Dominguez paid his dues in Kentucky and his work ethic is applauded by Asmussen.

“Joel is an excellent horseman and has turned into a great jockey,” he said.

Dominguez’ agent is 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 extended his gratitude to his wife Janet, and sons, Andy and Joel Jr. and expressed his thanks to others.

“I also want to thank the Louisiana Downs racing office staff for their hard work as well as my valet Oscar Lara,” added Dominguez. “Mitch and Misty have been great to work with and I appreciate the hard work of all the grooms, hot walkers and exercise riders.  I would not have won this title without so many people helping me!”

Last year’s top jockey Carlos Lozada finished with 40 wins, tying for second in the standings with Jose Andres Guerrero. Next was Jack Gilligan with 37 victories and Gerardo Mora, who won 35 races.

Dominguez will ride next at Delta Downs when their 2020-2021 Thoroughbred season gets underway.

“We thank each of our horsemen for their support since the live racing season began on June 6,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. “This has been a very challenging year due to COVID-19 and a very volatile Hurricane season which has impacted so many people in our state. We look forward to a much better 2021 for our racing industry.”

 

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 through March.

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.

 

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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FULL FIELDS SET FOR LOUISIANA CUP DAY AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Foundation Fundraiser and Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA) Scholarship Drawings Also on Tap

 

Bossier City, LA – Full fields are set for Louisiana Cup Day at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs on Saturday, September 19.  First post is 3:05 pm (Central) for the eight-race card which will feature six stakes for accredited Louisiana-breds.Originally announced to run as $40,000, each of the stakes will now have a purse of $50,000 with full fields set throughout the card.

 

Mirabeau Looks for Her Second Stakes Score in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies

Stakes action gets underway in the second race, the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies. A very competitive field of 12 accredited 2-year-old Louisiana-bred fillies will vie six furlongs.

 

Five competitors from the filly’s division of the $60,000 D.S. “Shine” Young Futurity on August 29 at Evangeline Downs are entered, including Larry Romero and Ron Faucheux’s Mirabeau. The daughter of Bind out of the Speightstown mare, Smittystown, was bred by J. Adcock and Nathan Granger and is trained by Faucheux. She was a commanding ten-length winner, covering 5 ½ furlongs in 1:04.90 for her third victory in four career starts. The talented filly, who has been installed as the 3-2 morning-line favorite, will reunite with rider Diego Saenz.

 

“I wasn’t too sure about running her back so quickly,” admitted Faucheux. “But there is a nice gap between this stakes and Louisiana Champions Day (in December at Fair Grounds). She is so classy and mature for her age; we’re looking forward to it.”

 

Other contenders include Laurence Jones’ Squox and Mamas Gone Crazy, owned and trained by Carl DeVille, who ran second and third, respectively, behind Mirabeau. Another filly to watch is Rue Lala, breaking her maiden impressively here on September 5 for owners Spendthrift Farm LLC and William and Corinne Heiligbrodt. The daughter of Star Guitar, who is trained by Steve Asmussen, won by 7 ¾ lengths under leading Louisiana Downs rider Joel Dominguez, who will be back in the saddle on Saturday.

 

Louisiana native Faucheux, who has been training since 2009, has runners in five of the six Louisiana Cup Day stakes.

 

“These state-bred stakes days are so important for Louisiana racing,” he added. “Everyone has gone through so much this year with the pandemic, delayed race days and hurricanes! Hats off to David Heitzmann and LTBA for pushing for Louisiana Cup Day. My owners are pleased with the purse increase to $50,000; we are ready and will be bringing a full crew up on Saturday.”

 

Chu Chu’s Legacy Leads the Field in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile

The fourth race of the afternoon is the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile for Louisiana-bred 2-year-old colts and geldings.  A field of 13 will compete at six furlongs on the main track.

 

Allen Landry owns and trains Chu Chu’s Legacy, a son of Bind, who won the $60,000 D.S. “Shine” Young Futurity division for colts and geldings.  Bred in Louisiana by J. Adcock and Hume Warnell, he drew off to a four length victory on August 29, which was his second victory in three lifetime starts. The 2-1 choice boasts career earnings of $60,800.  Landry will give a leg up to rider Tim Thornton, who has guided the dark bay colt to his last two victories.

 

“He’s been doing so well, there was no reason not to run him,” Landry said of wheeling back in three weeks. “In his first start (on July 18), he got shuffled back, but made up ground. In the “Shine”, he was pressured the whole way, but drew clear on his own.”

 

Schnell, G’wildcat and Jimmy Two Times, who ran second, third and fifth in the “Shine” Futurity will also return to action. Schnell, a colt by Star Guitar is owned by Kaleem Shah, Inc., will make his fourth career start for Faucheux. He competed in the Grade 2, Best Pal at Del Mar on August 8, where he finished fifth.

 

The field also includes Von Dom, owned by Gulf Coast Stables, LLC, who won his debut at Evangeline Downs on July 30 for trainer William Meaux; Lt Bonura, who romped to a nine-length score here on August 12 for trainer Mike Stidham and Ready for Love, a half-brother to Our Lost Love, 2019 LTBA champion 2-year-old Filly.

 

Post time for the Louisiana Cup Juvenile will be 4:26 pm (Central).

 

 

Defending Champion Is Too Faces Eleven Rivals in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff

Twelve accredited Louisiana-bred fillies and mares will take to the Franks Turf Course for the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff.

 

Is Too, a 5-year-old daughter of Midshipman, was bred by J. Adcock and Montgomery Training Center. Owned byBaronne Farms LLC, the chestnut mare has won six of her 21 starts for trainer Edward Johnston. She surged past her six rivals in last year’s edition of the stakes, but will be tested by several stakes winners on Saturday at odds of 7-2. Diego Saenz has the call aboard the talented mare, who drew post position two in the mile and one-sixteenth stakes.

 

“She’s doing well,” said Johnston. “That’s a good post for her; she likes the rail.”

 

Room to Finish has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite and will break from the rail under jockey Gerardo Mora. The 5-year-old daughter of Giant Oak was bred by Mike Meeks and is owned by Westpoint Thoroughbreds, Forge Ahead Stables and Jerry Caroom. She has earned $224,105 in 18 efforts. This will be her first start at Louisiana Downs; she ships in off a turf allowance victory on August 5 at Arlington Park.

 

“She’s a very consistent mare,” stated trainer Wayne Catalano. “She ran second in her first two starts at Del Mar before we got her. I’m happier with her rail draw, versus the far outside.”

 

That far outside post belongs to multiple stakes winner Mariah’s Galaxy, trained by Victor Arceneaux and owned by Riley Blanchet and Todd Matte.  Regular pilot Kevin Smith has the call aboard the 6-year-old mare sired by Greeley’s Galaxy. She is the high earner in the field with $420,985 banked in 27 starts. Bred by Margie K. Averett, the winner of five career stakes will also be making her debut at Louisiana Downs.

 

The contentious field also includes Net A Bear, a 4-year-old filly by Awesome Bet owned by Maximo Lamarche and Federico Deltoro. She is also a multiple-stakes winner for breeder Lora Pitre with victories in the 2019 Elge Rasberry at Louisiana Downs and Louisiana Champions Day Turf at Fair Grounds. Trainer Allen Landry will give a leg up to Tim Thornton. Stakes winners Yes Gorgeous and Vacherie Girl are also among the contenders in the Louisiana Cup Distaff, which will run as the fifth race on the card.

 

Overflow Field of Fourteen Drawn in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint

The $50,000 Louisiana Filly and Mare Sprint is another Louisiana Cup Day feature that attracted a highly competitive group of distaffers competing at the distance of six furlongs.

 

Our Lost Love will seek her third stakes win for trainer Joey Foster. Bred and owned by Tri-Star Racing LLC, the 3-year-old daughter of Half Ours has already eclipsed the $200,000 earnings mark with five wins from nine starts. The talented filly broke her maiden at Louisiana Downs last September and won her first stakes, the $93,700 Louisiana Futurity on December 29 at Fair Grounds. Two months later, she added a victory in the $70,000 Take Charge Brandi at Delta Downs. On August 8, she made easy work of her rivals, winning a five-furlong turf sprint here in :57.35 seconds.  Carlos Lozada has the return call on the dark bay filly at odds of 7-2.

 

“She’s a very special filly and we are thrilled that Louisiana Cup Day will take place this year after so many challenges,” said Foster. “I am very happy with her draw; really wanted an outside post.”

 

Tin Roof Farms LLC’s Snowball, a 4-year-old daughter of Apriority, won her last two races at Evangeline Downs, including the $60,000 Louisiana Legends Mademoiselle Stakes on July 4. Trained by Samuel Breaux, the gray filly will break from post position three with Diego Saenz in the saddle. Bred by 4M Ranch, Snowball made one previous start at Louisiana Downs in 2019, running fourth in the Elge Rasberry, which was run at a mile on the turf.

 

“She’s turned into a sprinter and is definitely on top of her game,” said Breaux. “We gave her a work (on September 9) in Opelousas and she is ready.”

 

Trainer Ron Faucheux looks for a good effort from Play Unified, a 7-year-old mare by Exchange Rate, who has earned $324,737. Erica Murray has the mount and will break from post position 13.

 

“She’s very sound,” he said. “She can be her own worst enemy; sometimes being too fractious in the gate, but she is very talented.”

 

Sydster Takes on His Elders in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Turf Classic

The $50,000 Louisiana Turf Cup Classic attracted thirteen runners going a mile and one-sixteenth over the Franks Turf Course. Several proven turf stakes winners are entered with a firm turf course expected for Saturday afternoon.

 

Sydster, a 3-year-old son of Power Broker, has won three of his six starts for owner Baronne Farms LLC. Bred by J.Adcock & Montgomery Equine Center, he broke his maiden last December and won the $75,000 Crescent City Derby on February 17. He ran second on July 4 in the Louisiana Legends Cheval Stakes at Evangeline Downs.

 

“He’s a young horse,” admitted Johnston. “He’ll be running against older horses for the first time, but I know he will like the nice sweeping Louisiana Downs turf course. Diego knows him well; he’ll put him in a good spot.”

 

In the Navy, owned by Kendel D. Standlee, won the 2018 edition of the race and finished second last year for trainer Scott Gelner. The 6-year-old son of Midshipman will be ridden by Alexander Castillo and will be making his 33rd career start. His last appearance in the winner’s circle came one year ago here at Louisiana Downs when he won the Frank L. Brothers Stakes.

 

“I’ve only been able to run him once this summer with so many races forced off the turf,” said Gelner. “He’s just a great turf horse and I am proud of the fact that he has won on each of the Louisiana turf courses.”

 

Other contenders include Snake Racing LLC’s Treys Midnite Moon, who has won nine of his 34 starts for trainer Corale Richards. Rider Devin Magnon has the call on the 5-year-old son of Neko Bay. Budro Talking has an excellent turf record for owner Jack Randall and has won five of his eight Louisiana Downs starts. Joel Dominguez will ride the 5-year-old son of Tale of Ekati for trainer Keith Austin.

 

 

Champions Laughingsaintssong and Monte Man Headline the $50,000 Louisiana Sprint

The final stakes on Saturday’s card is the $50,000 Louisiana Sprint which also drew an exceptional field, including two past champions, going six furlongs on the main track.

 

Rodney Verret’s Laughingsaintssong, a 6-year-old gelding bred by J.E. Jumonville and his wife, Bunny, who own one of the top Quarter Horse farms in Louisiana. They own a Vindication mare Laughing Saint and bred her to Grade 1 winner Songandaprayer.  He boasts a record of ten wins and earnings of $363,010 and exits a confident victory in the $60,000 Louisiana Legends Sprint at Evangeline Downs on July 4. Tim Thornton rode the bay gelding and will ride him in his 27th start this Saturday for conditioner Allen Landry.

 

“He’s a war horse,” stated Landry.  “He ran a great race at Evangeline Downs and has been training very well. He’s fired up and ready to defend his title!”

Monte Man, the pride and joy of Ivery Sisters Racing, won the 2018 Louisiana Cup Sprint and will be in pursuit of his 16th career victory on Saturday afternoon. Claimed for $25,000 in October, 2017, bay gelded son of Custom For Carlos was sent to Faucheux in Louisiana and reeled off seven wins in a row. Five of the victories were black-type stakes and he was honored as 2018 Louisiana Bred Horse of the Year. Bred by Val C. Murrell. Monte Man has banked $610,923 and is still going strong as a 7-year-old. Jockey Gerard Melancon has the call on the 9-2 second choice.

 

“We love this horse,” said Faucheux. “Drawing outside suits him and he ran a really good allowance race, in hand, to prep for this. His numbers might suggest that he is not as good as he has been in the past, but he’s still got a lot of fight in him.”

 

The field also includes Bertie’s Galaxy, also trained by Faucheux and 2019 Louisiana Cup Juvenile winner Scotty Boyfrom the barn of Ronnie Ward.

 

Post time for the Louisiana Cup Sprint, which runs as the final race on the card, is 6:15 pm.

 

Louisiana Cup Day News and Notes

Saturday’s weather forecast calls for a picture perfect afternoon with a high of 82 degrees and just 49% humidity! The public is invited to enjoy live racing, and culinary delights from the most popular food trucks in Shreveport-Bossier City.The following special events are set for Cup Day:

 

Handicapping Preview Show Begins at 2:00 pm

Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary and regional racing publicist Martha Claussen will team up for a pre-race handicapping preview at 2:00 pm in the Inside Rail, located on the first floor of the grandstand. They will offer analysis and their selections for each of the races on the Louisiana Cup Day card. The seminar is free and open to all racing fans.

 

Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Fundraiser To Take Place on Louisiana Cup Day

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will conduct a fundraiser on Saturday, September 19 in support of the Shantel Lanerie Cancer Breast Foundation.  The beloved Louisiana native and wife of jockey Corey Lanerie was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in January, 2018 and passed away just six months later.  She is survived by her parents, husband and daughter, Brittlyn.

 

Rick Mocklin, who was Lanerie’s agent for ten years and his wife, Janette, were close friends of Shantel.  Mocklin serves as founder and president of the Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Foundation (SLBCF). The 501(c)(3organization was founded in September, 2018 with a mission of educating, empowering and encouraging women to become pro-active in early detection, and if diagnosed, surviving breast cancer.  Acknowledging that breast cancer impacts the entire family, the Foundation designates funds raised through donations and fundraisers to assist with basic needs of breast cancer patients through every stage of diagnosis and treatment.

 

Beginning at 2:00 pm on Louisiana Cup Day, a table will be set up in the grandstand with monogrammed apparel and memorabilia. Jockeys will be on hand to autograph the items, with all proceeds to benefit the foundation. Fans will be able to stop by the table, purchase items or make donations until 6:00 pm.

 

LTBA To Award Scholarships on Louisiana Cup Day

Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA) will draw for two $1,000 scholarships on September 19 via Facebook Live during Louisiana Cup Day at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. The drawings will be between the fifth and sixth races in the winner’s circle.  *Due to the COVID-19 students do not have to be present to win a scholarship. For more information about Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association visit louisianabred.com or call 1-800-772-1195.

 

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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HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS ANNOUNCES ADDITION OF EXTRA RACE ON EACH PROGRAM BEGINNING MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14

Draw for Louisiana Cup Day to Take Place Saturday, September 12

 

Bossier City, LA – Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will add one additional race each day, beginning Monday, September 14 through the conclusion of the 2020 Thoroughbred racing season on Wednesday, September 23.  This is in addition to the purse increase of $1,500 per race which was announced on August 8.

 

“Supporting our local horsemen continues to be a high priority for Harrah’s Louisiana Downs,” said David Heitzmann, Director of Racing. “We were forced to delay the start of our meet due to COVID-19, which was not expected. Then, Hurricane Laura had a devastating impact on many members of our racing community. We are hopeful that the purse increase and extra day will benefit these horsemen who have been very loyal to our racetrack.”

 

Tight Trainer Battle Developing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs 

The next two weeks at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will offer an exciting battle for leading trainer honors with three horsemen solidly in contention.  Steve Asmussen is the current leader with 36 wins; Karl Broberg follows closely with 34 and Shane Wilson is also in the hunt with 31 winners to date.

Asmussen, who has traveled from Texas to New York to Kentucky this summer has a solid team in place at Louisiana Downs. Assistants Mitch Dennison and Misty Drinkwater handle the day to day care of the Hall of Fame conditioner’s runners at Louisiana Downs. Dennison explained that when the Evangeline Training Center closed two years ago, it was Louisiana Downs that stepped up with an opportunity to stable and train in Shreveport.

“Louisiana Downs has been our hub for this region for two years,” said Dennison. “Steve believes in having each horse being productive at their class level. So, in addition to our success here this meet, we are able to train and ship horses where they fit.”

Dennison credits David Heitzmann and his team for their continued commitment this season.

“I can’t thank them enough for working with us and being so accommodating,” added Dennison. “The track surfaces are excellent; (track superintendent) Billy McKeever does an amazing job. We have a couple of horses pointed to Cup Day and hope we will be able to win the training title”

 

 

Karl Broberg, who has been the #1 trainer by wins in North America for the past seven years, won 45 races here last year, finishing second to Joey Foster. He and his crew will be gearing up over the next nine live racing days.

“I’m thankful that Louisiana Downs has been so accommodating to horsemen through this incredibly tough year,” said Broberg. “They were the first track in this region to turn the lights on and work to get racing back on track. All credit goes to the management team.”

It is the first time in eight years that Wilson, a native of Haughton, Louisiana, has stabled here.

“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.”

There were some anxious moments for Wilson, but he credits his owners for their support.

“So many of my owners were loyal and I knew we had a good barn coming into the meet,” he said. “I came in thinking we had a good chance to win 30 races, and we have done that already.”

Wilson reflects on the impact of COVID-19 on racing over the last six months.

“It’s been a challenge for everyone,” Wilson stated. “But one positive is that my two sons stayed with us and home schooled. They were looking to make some extra money, so got up every morning at 4:00 am to help out at the barn. My wife, Becky, was with us as well. So, despite all the challenges, it has been a good summer for our family.”

However, there is little doubt that Joel Dominguez will be caught in the race for leading jockey of the meet. He has been racking up the wins throughout the season and currently tops his fellow riders with 59 wins since the meet began on June 6. Jack Gilligan is second with 37 trips to the winner’s circle. Jose Guerrero has ridden 36 winners to date and Gerardo Mora rounds out the top four with 32 victories.

 

This is the fourth year that 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. The 30-year-old Dominguez was born in Durango, Mexico, and experience in the saddle began in Kentucky, galloping for both Asmussen and veteran Kentucky-based conditioner, Neil Howard.

 

Louisiana Cup Day Draw Set for Saturday, September 12

Nominations for the annual Louisiana Cup Day at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs have closed with tremendous interest from horsemen. Six stakes for accredited Louisiana-breds will be contested on Saturday, September 19. The draw for the following Louisiana Cup stakes will take place on Saturday, September 12.

Louisiana Cup Day Featured Stakes

                                   

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile                    2 YO LA-Bred                        Six furlongs

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies          2 YO Fillies LA-Bred             Six furlongs

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Filly & Mare Sprint  3 YO & Up F&M, LA-Bred  Six furlongs

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Sprint                        3 YO & Up LA-Bred              Six furlongs

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Turf Classic              3 YO & Up LA-Bred              1 1/16 miles (T)

$40,000 Louisiana Distaff                              3 YO & Up F & M LA-Bred  1 1/16 miles (T)

 

 

Update on Jockey Rico Flores

Jockey Rico Flores was injured in a spill on Tuesday, September 1 and was transported to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a cervical spine injury and underwent surgery earlier this week.

 

His companion, Sally Warne, stopped by the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs racing office on Tuesday and gave an update that Flores was able to move his legs and feet fine; lift his head, shoulders, and elbows, but still not able to move his fingers. He will begin physical therapy today. She added that it will be a “long road” to recovery.

 

According to statistics on Equibase. Flores has won 366 races and purses of $5.9 million since he began riding in 1994.

 

A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist Flores in his recovery. If you are able to make a donation, please visit: GoFundMe.com.RicoFlores.

 

 

LTBA To Award Scholarships on Louisiana Cup Day

Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA) will draw for two $1,000 scholarships on September 19 via Facebook Live during Louisiana Cup Day at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. The drawings will be between the fifth and sixth races in the winner’s circle.  *Due to the COVID-19 students do not have to be present to win a scholarship.

The requirements for the scholarship are as follows:

Must be a college student enrolled full-time in a Louisiana College, University or Community College for Fall 2020.

Must be in good standing with the college or university.

Must have University ID number or Social Security number.

The scholarship will be deposited directly into the student’s account at the college or university. The student is asked to know the name and address of the college that they are attending.
REGISTER NOW.

Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association manages the best incentive program for breeding thoroughbreds in the United States. Since the organization formed, this has led to increased purses, better quality horses, and increased interest in racing and breeding horses. The thoroughbred racing and breeding industry generates over $1 billion and employs over 60,000 people in the state of Louisiana.

For more information about Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association visit louisianabred.com or call 1-800-772-1195.

 

Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Fundraiser To Take Place on Louisiana Cup Day

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will conduct a fundraiser on Saturday, September 19 in support of the Shantel Lanerie Cancer Breast Foundation.  The beloved Louisiana native and wife of jockey Corey Lanerie was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in January, 2018 and passed away just six months later.  She is survived by her parents, husband and daughter, Brittlyn.

 

Rick Mocklin, who was Lanerie’s agent for ten years and his wife, Janette, were close friends of Shantel.  Mocklin serves as founder and president of the Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Foundation (SLBCF). The 501(c)(3organization was founded in September, 2018 with a mission of educating, empowering and encouraging women to become pro-active in early detection, and if diagnosed, surviving breast cancer.  Acknowledging that breast cancer impacts the entire family, the Foundation designates funds raised through donations and fundraisers to assist with basic needs of breast cancer patients through every stage of diagnosis and treatment.

 

Beginning at 2:00 pm on Louisiana Cup Day, a table will be set up in the grandstand with monogrammed apparel and memorabilia. Jockeys will be on hand to autograph the items, with all proceeds to benefit the foundation. Fans will be able to stop by the table, purchase items or make donations until 6:00 pm.

 

Mocklin has reached out to each of the Louisiana racetracks on their premier racing days to support fundraising efforts for the foundation. Sadly, due to COVID-19, many of the scheduled events this year have been canceled.

 

“The pandemic has affected so many people this year and events at many tracks were not able to take place,” said Mocklin.  “We are grateful to Louisiana Downs for welcoming us back on Cup Day again this year.

 

Handicapping Preview Show Set for Saturday, September 19

Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary and regional racing publicist Martha Claussen will team up for a pre-race handicapping preview at 2:00 pm in the Inside Rail, located on the first floor of the grandstand. They will offer analysis and their selections for each of the races on the Louisiana Cup Day card. The seminar is free and open to all racing fans.

 

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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INTEREST STRONG FOR LOUISIANA CUP DAY AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

 Nominations Close This Saturday for the Six Louisiana-bred Stakes

 

Bossier City, LA – There is a lot of activity this week in the Louisiana Downs racing office as this Saturday is the deadline to nominate for Louisiana Cup Day.  The annual event featuring six stakes saluting Louisiana-bred Thoroughbreds set for Saturday, September 19.

Last weekend, Evangeline Downs hosted the $60,000 D.S. “Shine” Young Futurity for accredited Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds. Both the winner of the filly and colts/gelding divisions are under consideration for Cup Day.

Mirabeau, a daughter of Bind, was nothing short of sensational as she drew off by a margin of

10 ¼  lengths under jockey Diego Saenz. Owned by Larry Romero and Ron Faucheux, she covered 5-1/2 furlongs in 1:04.90, which impressed both her connections and racing fans.

As reported by Mary Rampellini in the Daily Racing Form, Mirabeau was bred in Louisiana by J. Adcock and Nathan Granger. Faucheux purchased Mirabeau as a yearling at the Equine Sales of Louisiana auction in 2019. Not long afterward, he sold an interest in the daughter of Bind to Larry Romero. Mirabeau is by Bind and is out of the Speightstown mare, Smittystown.

She has won three of four lifetime starts and the $36,000 first-place purse increases her lifetime earnings to $75,350. Faucheaux was asked about the next start for Mirabeau.

“We will probably nominate her for Louisiana Cup Day, but have not made a decision,” said Faucheaux.. “There’s a chance; we were ecstatic with her stakes win Saturday night.”

Faucheaux acknowledges that he has several runners in mind for Cup Day, including Monte Man, who won the 2018 Louisiana Cup Sprint. Bred by Val Murrell, the son of Custom For Carlos is a multiple-stakes winner who has earned $610,923. Claimed for just $5,000 by Ivery Sisters Racing, the now 7-year-old gelding won an allowance race at Evangeline Downs on August 20.

“He’s still got a lot of fight in him,” added Faucheaux.

$60,000 D.S. “Shine” Young Futurity Chu Chu’s Legacy is also under consideration for Louisiana Cup Day according to his conditioner Allen Landry.  Bred in Louisiana by J. Adcock and Hume Warnell, and also sired by Bind, the gelding drew off to a four length victory under rider Tim Thornton.

He has won two of three lifetime starts and the $36,000 first-place purse pushes his career earnings to $60,800.

“It was really exciting,” Landry said of the stakes score. “He will be nominated (for Cup Day) and we’ll see how he is doing. He’s certainly heading in the right direction.”

Landry had confirmed that he will have two previous Louisiana Cup Day winners set for the September 19th event.  Rodney Verret’s Laughingsaintssong, a 6-year-old gelding bred by J.E. Jumonville and his wife, Bunny, who own one of the top Quarter Horse farms in Louisiana. They own a Vindication mare Laughing Saint and bred her to Grade 1 winner Songandaprayer.  He boasts a record of ten wins and earnings of $363,010 and won the 2019 Louisiana Cup Sprint as well as the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint at Fair Grounds. Landry will look to the turf for

Net A Bear, a 4-year-old filly by Awesome Bet owned by Maximo Lamarche and Federico Deltoro. She is also a multiple-stakes winner for breeder Lora Pitre with victories in the 2019 Elge Rasberry at Louisiana Downs and Louisiana Champions Day Turf at Fair Grounds.

Trainer Scott Gelner is pointing In The Navy to the Louisiana Cup Turf Classic. Owned by Kendall Standlee, the 6-year-old son of Midshipman won the 2018 edition of the race and was a convincing winner in the 2019 Frank Brothers, also contested on the Louisiana Downs turf course last September.

“I’ve only been able to run him once this summer with so many races forced off the turf,” said Gelner. “He had a good work on Monday; I think he’s back on target.”

G’Wildcat, who ran third to Chu Chu’s Legacy in the D. S. “Shine” Futurity, may return to action in the Louisiana Cup Juvenile, according to Gelner.

“He won his first out, but on Saturday, they got away from him,” he said. “He galloped out well, so we’ll see about heading to Cup Day.”

As previously mentioned, trainer Joey Foster confirmed that Our Lost Love will seek her third stakes win. Bred and owned by Tri-Star Racing LLC, the 3-year-old daughter of Half Ours has already eclipsed the $200,000 earnings mark with five wins from nine starts. The talented filly broke her maiden at Louisiana Downs last September and won her first stakes, the $93,700 Louisiana Futurity on December 29 at Fair Grounds. Two months later, she added a victory in the $70,000 Take Charge Brandi at Delta Downs. On August 8, she made easy work of her rivals, winning a five-furlong sprint in :57.35 seconds.

“Knowing that we can run on Cup Day means everything for me and my owners,” said Foster. “Our Lost Love showed us she is ready, getting the win (on August 8) so easily with the rail out. We’ve got big plans for Cup Day!”

 

Further information on the following Louisiana Cup Day features is posted on Equibase.

                                   

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile                    2 YO LA-Bred                        Six furlongs

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies          2 YO Fillies LA-Bred             Six furlongs

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Filly & Mare Sprint  3 YO & Up F&M, LA-Bred  Six furlongs

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Sprint                        3 YO & Up LA-Bred              Six furlongs

$40,000 Louisiana Cup Turf Classic              3 YO & Up LA-Bred              1 1/16 miles (T)

$40,000 Louisiana Distaff                              3 YO & Up F & M LA-Bred  1 1/16 miles (T)

 

Nominations will close on Saturday, September 5. Contact David Heitzmann atdheitzmann@caesars.com or by calling (318) 741-2511.

 

 

Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Fundraiser To Take Place on Louisiana Cup Day

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will conduct a fundraiser on Saturday, September 19 in support of the Shantel Lanerie Cancer Breast Foundation.  The beloved Louisiana native and wife of jockey Corey Lanerie was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in January, 2018 and passed away just six months later.  She is survived by her parents, husband and daughter, Brittlyn.

Rick Mocklin, who was Lanerie’s agent for ten years and his wife, Janette, were close friends of Shantel.  Mocklin serves as founder and president of the Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Foundation (SLBCF). The 501(c)(3organization was founded in September, 2018 with a mission of educating, empowering and encouraging women to become pro-active in early detection, and if diagnosed, surviving breast cancer.  Acknowledging that breast cancer impacts the entire family, the Foundation designates funds raised through donations and fundraisers to assist with basic needs of breast cancer patients through every stage of diagnosis and treatment.

Beginning at 2:00 pm on Louisiana Cup Day, a table will be set up in the grandstand with monogrammed apparel and memorabilia. Jockeys will be on hand to autograph the items, with all proceeds to benefit the foundation. Fans will be able to stop by the table, purchase items or make donations until 6:00 pm.

Mocklin has reached out to each of the Louisiana racetracks on their premier racing days to support fundraising efforts for the foundation. Sadly, due to COVID-19, many of the scheduled events this year have been canceled.

“The pandemic has affected so many people this year and events at many tracks were not able to take place,” said Mocklin.  “We are grateful to Louisiana Downs for welcoming us back on Cup Day again this year.

“Breast cancer can be devastating for so many people,” added Mocklin. “To lose Shantel when she was just 42 years-old was heartbreaking for her family and many friends. The foundation has already helped 40 women diagnosed with breast cancer and we want to keep raising funds to support those in need.”

 

Handicapping Preview Show Set for Saturday, September 19

Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary and regional racing publicist Martha Claussen will team up for a pre-race handicapping preview at 2:00 pm in the Inside Rail, located on the first floor of the grandstand. They will offer analysis and their selections for each of the races on the Louisiana Cup Day card. The seminar is free and open to all racing fans.

 

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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JOCKEY EMANUEL NIEVES IS HEALTHY AND WINNING RACES THIS SEASON AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Bossier City, LA – There is no doubt that we have a very talented jockey colony at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs! Several former leading riders will be gunning for a repeat title, including Emanuel Nieves.

 

The 27-year-old Nieves was born in Puerto Rico and learned his craft at Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocational Hipica, the famed jockey school near San Juan. It is a two-year program that has produced some of the top riders in North America, including Eclipse Award winning jockey Irad Ortiz and his brother, Jose.

 

Nieves made his riding debut in 2012 at Finger Lakes in New York, but Louisiana has been his circuit for the past three years. He credits his agent, Ronald Ardoin for his success as the former jockey works very hard and has solid relationships with pretty much every trainer in the region.

 

He was the leading rider at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in 2018, winning 85 races, but last year was much tougher. He was injured in a spill in the second week of the meet and underwent surgery.  His recovery took over four months before he was cleared to ride.  The remainder of the year was very challenging as he had to rebuild his business.

 

“It was very hard to get back,” admitted Nieves. “Many of my trainers had secured other riders at Evangeline Downs. It was almost like starting over.”

 

However, the support from many horsemen returned and Nieves is healthy and was ready when the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred season began on Saturday, June 6.  He showed his prowess in the saddle winning the final race of the card with Leadem Farm Inc’s Friendlyproduction. The 3-year-old colt by Run Production was making his debut for trainer Joseph Smith. Smith had no expectations as the $10,000 purchase had not been showing much in his morning works.

 

“I just told Emanuel that I wasn’t sure what we had, but to just figure it out,” said Smith.

 

In the early stages the Louisiana-bred was well behind the early pacesetters, but Nieves patiently guided his colt to the outside and drew off to a resounding eight-length victory. His morning line was 12-1, but he was completely overlooked in the wagering and returned $86 to those savvy handicappers that saw his potential!

 

Smith, who was an assistant in Texas to trainer Danny Pish until he went on his own in 2013, credits Nieves for a very patient ride on Friendlyproduction.

“Truthfully, I don’t know how many other riders would have done as well,” added Smith. “They might just have given up, but not Emanuel! I have a small stable, so a win like that means a great deal to me and my owners.”

 

Friendlyproduction is entered back on Monday, June 22 and Nieves will have the return call at odds of 9-2.

 

Nieves is grateful to all the horsemen who continue to give him opportunities and does not dwell on the misfortune of 2019. Healthy and a proud new daddy to his 8-month-old son, Ian, he is more focused this year than ever.  He strives to work hard in the mornings, win races in the afternoon and spend quality time with his wife and son.

 

“It’s not how you start, but how you finish,” said Nieves.

 

Louisiana Downs Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

Through June 15, Karl Broberg tops the trainer standings with five wins since the meet began on June 6.  The nation’s top conditioner by wins for the past six years finished second to Joey Foster here last season. Steve Asmussen is second with four victories and Foster and Joe O. Duhon are tied for third-place with three winners each.

 

Joel Dominguez is off to a solid start as he leads his fellow riders with eight wins so far. Last year’s leading jockey Carlos Lozada follows closely with six trips to the winner’s circle. Jack Gilligan also has won six races. Kevin Smith is next with five wins and Emanuel Nieves and   Jose Guerrero are tied with four victories.

 

Asmussen is the current leading owner with three wins to date.  End Zone Athletics Inc; Ismael Thoroughbreds LLC; Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. andTri-Star Racing, LLC have each won two starts this season.

 

Belmont Stakes Set for Saturday, June 20

In one of the more unusual racing seasons, the Belmont Stakes, traditionally the final leg of racing’s Triple Crown, will lead off the series this Saturday. Racing fans will be able to watch and wager on the 152nd Belmont Stakes as well as several other quality graded stakes from the New York racetrack. Harrah’s Louisiana Downs will offer a $5.00 Free Bet Promotion for Belmont.  Fans can stop by the Promotional Kiosk in the Racing Pavilion between 11am and 5pm to pick up their voucher, which can be redeemed on Saturday, June 27.

 

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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RONALD ARDOIN REFLECTS ON UPCOMING INDUCTION INTO THE FIRST HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS RACING HALL OF FAME

Celebrated Jockey Proud of his Louisiana Heritage and Legacy at His “Home Track”

Ardoin Family -Patti, Ronald and Natalie
Patti, Ronald and Natalie Ardoin. Hodges photo.

 

Bossier City, LA – Last week’s announcement regarding the inaugural Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Racing Hall of Fame was greatly appreciated by jockey Ronald Ardoin. He and fellow retired rider Larry Snyder are the first two jockeys to be inducted.

The July 13 Racing Hall of Fame ceremony will be the fourth Hall of Fame honor for Ardoin, who was previously enshrined as a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, Fair Grounds Hall of Fame and the Lone Star Park Hall of Fame.

This one will always have a special place in the heart of the native Louisianan, who was born in Carencro, and resides in Haughton. He’s won six leading rider titles at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

“Everybody has their home track and I have been blessed to be a part of Louisiana Downs every summer since their inaugural meet (in 1974),” said Ardoin. “I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly, but wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else!”

He is one of several nationally prominent jockeys, including Eddie Delahoussaye and Mark Guidry, who were born in Carencro.

“We were too little to work in the oilfield, so we started riding,” recalled Ardoin. “I began in the bush tracks in Louisiana when I was eight and got my jocks license when I turned 16.”

And what a career it was!  According to Equibase statistics, Ardoin rode 32,335 horses over three decades, winning 5,226 races with 4,298 seconds and 3,793 third-place finishes. He had nationally lauded victories aboard multiple-graded stakes winner Scott’s Scoundrel and a victory in the 1996 Arkansas Derby with Zarb’s Magic, but winning each race, no matter the purse, was important.

“Every win was special to me,” he said. “I didn’t care if it was a $5,000 maiden race or the $500,000 Arkansas Derby. It’s the thrill of victory; I got ’em again. They’re all special to me.”

Ardoin, who retired from the saddle in 2003, will celebrate his 62nd birthday on June 13. For the past six years, has served as a jockey agent at Louisiana Downs.  He enjoyed the camaraderie in the jocks room and the relationships with trainers when he rode. That remains a mainstay of his agent career, six days a week, beginning before 6:00 am when he makes his rounds around the backside in his golf cart, booking mounts for his riders. He gives credit to his agent, Jerry Harrison, who worked tirelessly for Ardoin over a span of  25 years.

“A lot goes into agenting,” acknowledged Ardoin. “It’s a 24-7 job, and working with people can be challenging. But I always had a plan as a jockey and the same is true for my riders.”

Ardoin took veteran rider Don Simington’s book when he first began as an agent and last year booked mounts for Emanuel Nieves, who won the Louisiana Downs riding title. With Nieves out of action due to a broken arm early this meet, Ardoin took on Carlos Lozada and Aubrie Green. He demands a strict work ethic of his riders each morning and the same on race days.

“I tell them to show trainers and owners that you will give the same ride to a 20-1 shot that you would on an 8-5 favorite,” he explained.

One of the perks of spending six months in Bossier City, is enjoying quality time with his wife,  Patti, who works for Hodges Photography and his daughter, Natalie, a member of the Louisiana Downs racing office.

A Racing Hall of Fame honoree might focus on the wins, top horses, injuries and connections involved in winning over 5,000 races.  Ardoin remembers them like they were yesterday, but also expresses a heartfelt thanks to Patti and Natalie for their support.

“My wife of 43 years, Patti, has been with me from the start,” he acknowledged. “With all the traveling, I was a sometime dad, but Natalie had a great mom.  With all the accomplishments in the racing industry, I take my greatest pride in our daughter; that kid is really something!”

On race afternoons, you can find Ardoin hanging out and watching the action with Natalie, who was the program coordinator/claims clerk last year and is the stall superintendent for the 2019 Louisiana Downs racing season.  They will often finish each other’s sentences as between the two, they combine for a full-volume encyclopedia on the people, history and current news in the racing industry.

“We spent a lot of time apart when he was riding,” said Natalie. “Since I moved back to Louisiana from Kentucky, this has been the closest we have ever been.”

Patti, a daughter of trainer Jack Lloyd, grew up around race trackers, so she was well-versed in the sacrifices required of family members.

“I’ve been there since the beginning,” she stated. “Seeing him get this recognition is very meaningful. The Hall of Fame ceremonies bring tears to your eyes.”

On July 13, Ardoin will be inducted into the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Racing Hall of Fame with Patti, Natalie and a slew of horsemen and fans celebrating another well-deserved milestone for the popular retired jockey. He may get a little emotional as his “home track” means so much to him, but the honor will not change him as a person.

“I came from a humble beginning and will leave this life as a humble man,” said Ardoin. “One thing is certain: I could never have done it by myself.”

 

Fan Vote for the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Racing Hall of Fame Begins on June 15

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs recently announced the formation of its first Racing Hall of Fame. It will honor the achievements of horse owners, trainers, jockeys, horses and property contributors who have played pivotal roles in the rich history of Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.  Members of the first class are John Franks, Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr., Frank L. Brothers, C. W. Walker,  Ronald Ardoin, Larry Snyder, Sunday Silence and Free Spirits Joy.

Beginning on Saturday, June 15, the public will be able to cast a vote for an additional inductee in the category of trainer, jockey, racing contributor and horse.  Voters can select ONE of the following nominees in each category  by clicking on the following link on the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs website:  http://shout.lt/bQZNV.  

Voting will close on Saturday, June 29 with the Racing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony slated for Saturday, July 13.

 

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs To Simulcast the Belmont Stakes

In addition to live racing on Saturday, June 8 at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, fans can also watch and wager on the 151st Belmont Stakes, the third and final jewel in Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. The exceptional day at Belmont Park will feature eight Grade 1 stakes with post time for the Belmont Stakes at 5:35pm (CST). And if you are looking for a great place to dine while watching all of the racing action, Harrah’s Club has an All You Can Eat Buffet offering for just $39.99 per person. Reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 318-752-6367.

 

Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge Set for Saturday, June 22

Caesars Entertainment horse racing properties – Harrah’s Louisiana Downs , Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, and Harrah’s Philadelphia are pleased to announce the first-ever Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge.

The Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge will take place at four Caesar’s properties, including Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. The entry fee is $150 and participants must be 21 or over. The format for the challenge will require contestants to make 12 $2 win and place fictional wagers on the designated challenge races. Contestants must place a win and place wager on one horse in 12 mandatory races out of 20 available from Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Indiana Grand, and Harrah’s Hoosier Park

The first-place winner in the Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge will walk away with $20,000, a seat at the $3,000,000 estimated National Horseplayers Championship, and a chance at an additional $1 million cash prize in the event of a double victory. First-place winner must be eligible to participate in the NHC in order to receive the NHC seat.  For more information about the National Horseplayers Championship, visit www.nhctour.com. The $1 million prize will be awarded either as an annuity that pays $25,000 per year for forty years without interest or as a discounted lump sum payment of $550,000, which represents the approximate present value of the annuity. Second place will be awarded $10,000 while the third-place winner will take home $1,500. There will be additional cash prizes for fourth through tenth place.

 

For further information, visit the contest page on the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs website.

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 JOINS OTHER CAESARS RACING PROPERTIES IN HOSTING A ONE OF A KIND HANDICAPPING CHALLENGE ON SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2019

Top Ten Finalists Will Share $35,000. Winner to Take $20,000 and a Shot at $1 Million

Bossier City, LA – Caesars Entertainment horse racing properties – Harrah’s Louisiana Downs , Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, and Harrah’s Philadelphia are pleased to announce the first-ever Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge.

 

The Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge will offer horseplayers from around the country the unique opportunity to handicap both Thoroughbred and Standardbred races for a top prize of $20,000, a seat at the $3,000,000 estimated National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), and an additional $1 million cash prize if the winner of the Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge also captures the NHC victory. This one-day challenge will be hosted on Saturday, June 22, 2019.

 

The Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge – sponsored by John Deere and Cowpokes – will be hosted at the four Caesars Racing properties: Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, LA; Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville, IN; Harrah’s Hoosier Park in Anderson, IN; and Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester, PA. Players can also participate at the tracks’ Off-Track Betting properties: Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Mound OTB in Tallulah, LA; VooDoo BBQ & Grill and Winner’s Circle OTB in New Haven, IN; Winner’s Circle Pub, Grille & OTB in Indianapolis, IN; and Winner’s Circle OTB in Clarksville, IN. Participants must be 21 or over.

 

Entry into the Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge requires a $150 fee due upon check-in on the day of the challenge. Reservations are currently being accepted and the challenge will be capped at 400 entries. Players are encouraged to sign up quickly as the entries will be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Contestants will be limited to two entries per person. The entry fee will include dining offerings at each location, race day simulcast programs and tip sheets.

 

The first-place winner in the Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge will walk away with $20,000, a seat at the $3,000,000 estimated National Horseplayers Championship, and a chance at an additional $1 million cash prize in the event of a double victory. First-place winner must be eligible to participate in the NHC in order to receive the NHC seat.  For more information about the National Horseplayers Championship, visit www.nhctour.com. The $1 million prize will be awarded either as an annuity that pays $25,000 per year for forty years without interest or as a discounted lump sum payment of $550,000, which represents the approximate present value of the annuity. Second place will be awarded $10,000 while the third-place winner will take home $1,500. There will be additional cash prizes for fourth through tenth place.

The format for the challenge will require contestants to make 12 $2 win and place fictional wagers on the designated challenge races. Contestants must place a win and place wager on one horse in 12 mandatory races out of 20 available from Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Indiana Grand, and Harrah’s Hoosier Park. At least one race per track must be included on each entry to be eligible for the challenge. The wagers must be placed at a designated challenge location. All wagers are fictional; no money is paid on challenge wagers. The challenge time frame is 4:15 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (EST). Reservations for the Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge can be made by calling (866) 357-1731. Official rules and more information is available on the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs website or by contacting Harrah’s Louisiana Downs coordinator Shelli Briery at 318-742-0711 extension 54382.

 

“We are pleased to be part of this innovative handicapping contest,” said Eric Halstrom, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs vice president of operations.  “Our Road to the Kentucky Derby Handicapping Contest was well-received by our local horseplayers. There were 201 enthusiastic participants who encouraged us to offer more contests in the future. We know they will enjoy the Caesars Rewards Handicapping Challenge with the chance to win a seat to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) in Las Vegas.”

 

Louisiana Downs Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

As of May 21, Beverly Burress has won five races to top the trainer standings.  Joey Foster, Joe Duhon andRonnie Ward have each saddle four winners. There is also a tie for third-place between Patti Turner, Steve Asmussen, Karl Broberg and Philip Mark Dison. They have each won three races since the 2019 Thoroughbred season began on May 4.

 

Carlos Lozada won three races on the Monday, May 20 card to take the lead in the jockey standings. He has made nine trips to the winner’s circle with  Joel Dominguez and  Eguard Tejera following closely with eight wins each. Hector Del-Cid and Richard Eramia have both won seven races to date.

 

It was a tough start for last year’s leading rider, Emanuel Nieves, who was injured on May 11, when his mount, Girls Life clipped heels and fell. Nieves was transported to the hospital with a dislocated clavicle and broken arm.  He has an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for further evaluation, according to his agent, Ronald Ardoin.

 

End Zone Athletics, Inc., Ronnie Ward and Steve Asmussen have each won three races to top the owner leaderboard.

 

Memorial Day Pig Races and Family Fun Day                

The popular Memorial Day Pig races return on Monday, May 27.Don’t miss these wacky races as these high flying little porkers race to the finish line. The Pig Races will take place between post times for the Memorial Day Race Card  There will also be a Petting Zoo for children and a kid’s area with bounce houses and water slides. Face painting is available for purchase. Eat up as food trucks serve up great local bites. First Post Time 3:15 pm.

 

For more information on the upcoming racing season and special events, click here.

 

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:

 

Mobile Mondays | Enjoying the races? Check-in on the Caesars Rewards app from your smart phone to receive an entry into the weekly “Day at the Races” drawing. Winner will receive a dining experience for two to the Harrah’s Club (max value of $100).

 

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 hotdogs, popcorn, beer and racing programs for only $1.00!

 

$5.00 Free Bet | Saturdays, May 4 & 18 |Opt in and receive a ticket at the Racing Kiosks between 11am and 5pm. Saturdays, May 11 & 25| Redeem your Free Bet at the Mutuel Counter.

 

Super Saturdays| Race to more Rewards by presenting your Caesars Rewards card when making a wager and receive up to a 7X Racing Reward Credit Multiplier.

 

Saturday Pick 4 Family Day| Enjoy a box seat for 4 with food and drinks for only $16 on select Saturdays.

 

Bet & Earn| Check out Harrah’s new Bet & Earn offered through Racing by Caesars Rewards. Guests wagering using a Caesars Rewards card will now receive one Tier Credit and one Reward Credit on a three dollar bet.

 

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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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.

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