Extreme Cold Forces Oaklawn To Cancel Racing, Training On Friday

Due to extreme cold temperatures in the region, Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. will cancel training and racing on Friday, Jan. 21.

The National Weather Service predicts temperatures as low as 16 degrees (F) on Thursday night, with a high of just 35 on Friday. Wind chills on Friday could be as low as 7.

According to the track’s Twitter feed, the goal is to resume racing and training on Saturday, Jan. 22, with post time Saturday afternoon moved to a 1:00 PM (Central) start time.

Normal schedules are expected to resume on Sunday, Jan. 23.

Nominees Released for Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Gun Runner and Untapable Stakes

Nine additional stakes to be run December 26th and 27th

New Orleans, LA (December 2, 2021) – December 26 marks the inaugural running of two new Kentucky Derby and Oaks prep races at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots – the $100,000 Gun Runner for 2-year-olds and the $100,000 Untapable Stakes for 2-year-old fillies – and nominations for both races have been released.

With a first post of noon CT, six stakes will be run on the Road to the Derby Kickoff Day card on Saturday, December 26, with the newly anointed races leading into to Fair Grounds’ traditional Kentucky Derby preps – the Lecomte (G3), Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford and the Twin Spires Louisiana Derby (G2), and traditional Kentucky Oaks preps – the Silverbulletday, Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton and the Twin Spires Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). The Gun Runner, which will award 10-4-2-1 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, closed with 21 nominations and the Untapable, which will award 10-4-2-1 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, closed with 22 nominations.

Post positions for the December 26 card, which also includes the Tenacious Stakes, Richard R. Scherer Memorial Stakes, Blushing KD Stakes, and the Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes will be drawn on Thursday December 16. The Joseph E. “Spanky” Broussard Memorial, The Woodchopper, Sugar Bowl, Letellier, and Pago Hop Stakes, to be run on December 27, will be drawn on Friday December 17.

“With the type of horses and trainers we have on the backside here year in and year out we thought it was the perfect opportunity to have these stakes with Derby and Oaks points attached four weeks out from Lecomte Day,” Fair Grounds’ racing secretary Scott Jones said. “It’s perfect timing too, as most of our open horses come from Churchill Downs and it’s four weeks removed from their Stars Of Tomorrow card. You’ll see a lot of 2-year-olds that ran on that day reappear here on Dec 26.”

Run over 1 1/16 miles, the Gun Runner is named for the local winner of the 2016 Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. He also counts the 2017 Breeders Cup Classic (G1) and 2018 Pegasus World Cup (G1) among his top stakes scores.

Brad Cox leads all trainers with six Gun Runner nominees, including Dean Maltzman’s Kaely’s Brother, the adjudicated winner of the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs, and Frank Fletcher Racing Operations and Ten Strike Racing’s Rocket Dawg, a dominant winner at first asking at Churchill Downs on November 19.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has a trio of horses nominated to the Gun Runner including dominant recent maiden winners in Ed and Susie Orr’s All In Sync and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter.

Other top nominees to the Gun Runner include: Tom R. Durant’s Tejano Twist, who has already racked up three wins for trainer Bret Calhoun, including the Lively Shively last out on the November 27 Stars of Tomorrow card at Churchill Downs and C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stables’ White Abarrio, who has two wins and a recent third place finish behind Smile Happy and Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs on his resume for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Trainer Ken McPeek has a pair of potential aces nominated to the Untapable, to be run over 1 mile and 70 yards, in Dixiana Farms’ Cocktail Moments and Bret Jones and Cold Press Racing’s Park on the Nile, both of whom won impressively at first asking on the Stars of Tomorrow card.

Cox and Asmussen each boast a trio of Untapable nominees. Cox’s fillies include the Godolphin homebred Matereya, who won at first asking in advance of a fifth place finish behind her stablemate Ju Ju’s Map in the Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland and a runner-up performance in the Fern Creek at Churchill Downs last time out. Famed, a Godolphin half sister to likely champion Essential Quality, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill and Gregory Hoffman’s Golden Sights, a recent maiden dominator at Keeneland, are also Untapable options for Cox.

Asmussen’s Untapable nominees are led by an impressive first out winner in the Stonestreet homebred La Crete, who is a half sister to last year’s Rachel Alexandra winner Clariere.

Chris Walsh’s California Angel, the 17-1 upset winner of the Jessamine (G2) on the Keeneland turf in advance of a disappointing 11th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar, is also nominated to the Untapable, which is named for the 2014 winner of the locally-run Rachel Alexandra and Fair Grounds Oaks in addition to the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders Cup Distaff that same year.

The list of nominees and the past performances for all 11 stakes to be run at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on December 26-27 can be found here https://www.equibase.com/premium/eqbHorsemenAreaSNHW.cfm?trk=FG.


About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 15 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. The 150th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 109th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 25, 2021 through March 27, 2022. More information is available online at http://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.

Delta Downs Could Be Back Under Lights By Nov. 12

By T. D. Thornton

A two-phase fix to the allegedly unsafe new lighting system at Delta Downs is underway that could allow the Louisiana track to switch back from afternoon programs to traditional weekend night cards by Nov. 12.

The recently installed light-emitting diode (LED) system, which was necessitated by the old lights getting wrecked by a hurricane in August 2020, was only operational for three races on the first night program of the season Oct. 15 before a horse fell at the top of the stretch.

Fueled by complaints from some jockeys and trainers that areas on the turns were dangerously dark and shadowy, the remainder of that card and the Oct. 16 program were cancelled. Delta resumed racing during afternoons without lights Oct. 20-23.


Read TDN Article

Delta Downs Cancels Racing Under New LED Lighting System



Delta Downs was forced to cancel the remainder of its Friday night program after a third-race spill and will not conduct its scheduled Saturday night program.

The Vinton, La., racetrack, which opened its 2021-22 meet with two afternoon programs on Oct. 13-14, was racing under its new LED lighting system for the first time on Friday when Its a Deal fell at the top of the stretch in the third race. Jockey Jorge Guzman fell heavily to the track.

According to the Equibase chart, Its a Deal walked off after the incident. Guzman’s condition is not known.


Read Paulick Report Article





VINTON, LA. – Delta Downs racing office took entries on Tuesday for the opening day program of its upcoming 2021-22 Thoroughbred season. The 84-day stand will kick off on October 13 and run through March 5. First post time each Wednesday and Thursday will be at 12:55 pm Central Time and the first race every Friday and Saturday night will begin at 5:55 pm.


A total of 92 horses, including also eligible horses, were entered in the nine-race program to start the season. Delta Downs allows a maximum of 10 horses to compete in each race, however the track does include up to two ‘also eligible’ horses in each event if there are enough entries to warrant it. The track began using ‘also eligible’ horses a few years ago and it has led to larger average field sizes and more betting opportunities for the wagering public.


The first stakes activity of the season will take place on opening weekend with the $100,000 Magnolia Stakes for 3-year-olds and up fillies and mares on Friday night, October 15 and the $100,000 Gold Cup for 3-year-olds and up going as the Saturday night headliner. Both races are restricted to horses bred in Louisiana.


Several streaks will be on the line this season in the horsemen ranks at Delta Downs this year. Karl Broberg will attempt to win his 11th consecutive training title while Tim Thornton will try to extend his streak to four straight riding titles. The ownership group of End Zone Athletices, Inc., which includes Broberg and Matt Johanson, will be looking to extend their run of six titles in a row this meet. Overall, they have captured nine of the last 10 owner crowns at the southwest Louisiana oval.


For more information about the upcoming season, including the entire stakes schedule, visit the track’s website at www.deltadownsracing.com. Fans can also get information about the track through Facebook by visiting the page ‘Delta Downs Racing’. The track’s Twitter handle is @deltaracing.


Dollars and Sense: Texas-Sized Returns


At last thrown a relatively small bone by state lawmakers two years ago, Texas racing is taking full advantage.

In September 2019 Texas lawmakers approved legislation that would commit an additional $25 million to the state’s horse racing industry, split equally between Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse purses. Texas has made the most of that small investment.

While Texas is surrounded by racing states that boost purses with money from added gaming—Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico—it has found a way forward behind its equine and racing tradition along with a pair of quality tracks in major metropolitan areas built in the 1990s in Lone Star Park, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area; and Sam Houston Race Park, in Houston.


Read BloodHorse Article

Lone Star Park Concludes Season with Encouraging Handle

The Texas track experienced their highest live and export handles since 2006.


Lone Star Park concluded its 25th Thoroughbred Racing season July 11 handling a daily average of $1,693,866 in merged handle (Live on-track plus Export) and a daily average of $1,459,096 specifically in export, over the 48-day meet, which was their most since 2006 in both categories, not including last year’s unique pandemic season.

Average daily grandstand attendance on weekends and holidays for the meet was just over 4,000 per day, which, when compared to similar days, was only a 4% decline from 2019.


Read BloodHorse Article


HOT SPRINGS, AR (June 7, 2021) – In yet another historic move for the 117-year-old track, Oaklawn will now add December race dates to its calendar and host a 66-day season from Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 – Sunday, May 8, 2022.

“For many years, horsemen have wanted to race here in December to fill a gap in their racing schedule,” said Oaklawn President Louis A. Cella, who has guided Oaklawn through the most dramatic changes in its history over the past four years. “We have completed our resort expansion, including the opening of our luxury hotel, spa and event center. Therefore, the timing is right for another expansion – to our live racing season.”

The 66-day season will be conducted largely on a Friday-Sunday basis, with some exceptions. There will be no racing Dec. 24 through Dec. 26 during the Christmas holiday and also no racing on Easter Sunday, April 17. Racing will continue to be offered on Presidents’ Day Monday, Feb. 21, 2022.

Oaklawn plans to present the new proposed racing schedule to the Arkansas Racing Commission at their next meeting for approval.

“We are looking forward to the new format,” Cella said. “The additional days will provide a huge economic impact for horsemen, Arkansas Thoroughbred breeders and tourism in Central Arkansas.”

“Oaklawn’s decision to add racing days in December is wonderful news for Hot Springs and Garland County,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. The expansion of its casino and its addition of a world-class hotel this year already provided Hot Springs with an exciting new feature in its attractions menu. The additional live racing dates will further cement Oaklawn’s status as a premier economic engine for our city. We all look forward to this great new reason for everyone to visit Hot Springs.”

Purses for the season are projected to be $45 million – $50 million; the highest in America at that time of year, with all allowance races starting at $100,000.

“To be able to offer six-figure allowance races for five consecutive months is a very strong statement,” Oaklawn Racing Secretary Pat Pope said. “Between the purses and all of our new amenities, we should be part of every horseman’s annual calendar.”

The extended season and projected purse increases make it necessary for Oaklawn to restructure its stakes program, highlighted, by realigning Oaklawn’s strong 3-year-old prep races.

“We will offer 2­-year-old racing in December,” Cella said, “and we anticipate additional exciting changes in our racing program, including an aggressive 2021-2022 stakes schedule. We are working on that now and will announce those changes soon. Suffice it to say that our stakes program will continue to be designed to attract the nation’s best horses and best horsemen to Hot Springs.”

Trainers are also excited about the additional race dates.

“I love it,” Hall of Famer and 11-time Oaklawn leading trainer Steve Asmussen said. “The more Oaklawn, the better.”

“I’ve been an advocate for this for years,” Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “I think it’s a great addition and will keep our stables competitive. It’s also going to be a popular time. People are already in a festive mood around the holidays and the weather in December is usually pretty good. I think there is going to be a strong fan base. I’m 100% for it.”

“Oaklawn’s new dates allow us horsemen to participate in the most lucrative purse circuit in America without any interruptions,” trainer Ron Moquett said. “It’s now a smooth transition between Oaklawn, Churchill, and Saratoga.”

Located in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, Oaklawn has been one of the premiere Thoroughbred racetracks in the country since 1904, best known as home of the $1 million Arkansas Derby. The casino features slots, live table games, and sports betting year-round. Live racing held Dec-May and simulcast racing throughout the year. Now open: a 198-room luxury hotel, multi-purpose event center, state-of-the-art spa, and new dining options. Oaklawn.com, 1-800-OAKLAWN.


Solid Meet for the Haughton, Louisiana Horseman


Bossier City, LA –Some might think that praising the importance of owners in horseracing is a standard catchphrase, but not to trainer Shane Wilson. The current leading trainer at Louisiana Downs took a few minutes after a hot and sultry afternoon card to talk about how his owners sustained him through the challenges of 2020 and put him on top this season in the 2021 meet.


“Many horsemen struggled last year during the (COVID-19) pandemic,” explained Wilson. “Sitting out for six months was a hardship on trainers, but I’m blessed with great clients who supported us. Thankfully, we were able to keep our whole stable intact.”


Several clients, including Wayne T. Davis, Joe Hackler and David Fontenot have been with Wilsonfor over 14 years.


“I began training in 1997 and am fortunate to have some loyal owners who trust me and love to see their horses run,” he added. “From the stakes company as well as the claiming level, with the support of my owners, we continue to be competitive.”


This is the second year in a row that Wilson set up shop at the Bossier City racetrack. He does not hesitate when asked about his allegiance to Louisiana Downs.


“David Heitzmann (Louisiana Downs Director of Racing) communicated with the horsemen through the shutdown in 2020,” said Wilson. “He was the first to set a plan and give us a projected opening date.”

Louisiana Downs was able to open their 84-day meet on its regular (Kentucky Derby) opening date this year,  and Wilson has been pleased with way the season has progressed.

“The track surfaces are very good, and they have made some improvements to the paddock and other areas of the complex. Having Camel and Ostrich Racing (on May 30) and these Family Sundays has brought in new fans. Promotions are part of it, but to me, they are working hard to sell horseracing as their core product.”

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

Aside from his racing ties, Wilson has another notable connection to Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. He met his wife, Becky, the daughter of horseman Jim O’Brien, here. The couple has two sons. Peyton is 20 years-old and his brother, Connor, 17, both help their dad out when they are not inschool.

His stable star is the multiple-stakes winning Mocito Rojo, a 7-year-old son of Mutadda. Wilson claimed the Kentucky-bred for owner Wayne T. Davis for $10,000 in a December 2016 maiden race at Delta Downs. He has amassed a record of 20 wins from 37 starts and earnings of $882,863. In 2019, Mocito Rojo won the Steve Sexton Mile Stakes (G3) at Lone Star Park and the Lukas Classic Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. He has won back-to-back races this meet at Louisiana Downs.

“He’s an amazing animal,” said Wilson. “I like to say he keeps winning despite his trainer.”

But the truth is Wilson has not shied away from changing things up for the intrepid runner.

“He got a little lackluster in his route races, so I shortened him to six furlongs this year (on May 18),” said Wilson.

He won that sprint in 1:09.78 and returned on June 6, taking on four rivals in a seven furlong allowance optional claimer, in which he won in 1:21.70. The speedy Kentucky-bred just missed breaking the track record of 1:21.60 set on July 4, 1984.

“I told (jockey) Jose Guerrero to really let him go,” recalled Wilson. “I felt adding a track-record setting performance might help his stud career. When Jose saw the final time, he looked at me and said, “I thought you were kidding!”

Track record aside, Wilson has true admiration for Mocito Rojo, who will hopefully surpass the  million dollar earnings mark in his career.

“I have watched every one of his 37 races,” admitted Wilson. “He was so little and skinny as a 3-year-old. This $10,000 claimer has taken us places we’ve never gone!”

Wilson will send both Mocito Rojo and 3-year-old Rightandjust to the Iowa Festival of Racing Friday, July 2 and Saturday, July 3 at Prairie Meadows. Rojo is nominated to the $100,000 Iowa Sprint and Rightandjust, a colt by Awesome Again, also owned by Davis, will point to the $250,000 Iowa Derby.

Wilson turned 50 this year and came to an interesting revelation on his training objectives.

“When I was younger, it was all about winning,” he stated. “Now I enjoy the mornings when I can watch them train and really learn more about each of their personalities. Figuring out the puzzlefor each horse at different levels keeps it fun !”


Louisiana Downs Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

As of June 15, Shane Wilson leads his fellow conditioners with 16 wins from 52 starts. Joe Duhon, Joey Foster and Karl Broberg are tied for second place with 12 wins each. Last year’s winning trainer Steve Asmussen, follows closely with 11 victories since the meet began on Saturday, May 1.


2020 leading rider Joel Dominguez is on top of the standings with 31 wins. Emanuel Nieves, who is also having an excellent meet, is in second place with 27 trips to the winner’s circle, followed by Jose Guerrero (22) and Carlos Lozada (20).


Wayne T. Davis is the current leading owner with 12 victories from his 27 starters. Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. and End Zone Athletics, Inc. are tied for second with seven wins each and Steve Asmussen has won six races.


Family Fun Day

Louisiana Downs is proud to host Family Fun Day, a family friendly event each Sunday from Noon -5:00 pm. Admission is free and in addition to the live Thoroughbred races, fans can enjoy delicacies from the best Food Trucks in the Bossier City/Shreveport Metroplex with family games and entertainment offered throughout the afternoon. Family Fun Day will be offered each Sunday through September 19.


Louisiana Downs Race Dates and Post Times

Live racing will be conducted Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 2:45 pm (Central)until the conclusion of the 2021 live season on Tuesday, September 21. For more information on the 84-day racing season and special events, visit https://www.caesars.com/harrahs-louisiana-downs/racing.

Lone Star Park Raises Overnight Purses 20%

Lone Star Park announced June 10 a 20% across-the-board overnight purse increase, effective immediately. Purses that ranged from $12,000 to $39,000 will now be worth $14,400 to $46,800.

Lone Star’s next live racing day is June 11, its first date of racing since the announced increase. Its centerpiece day of racing this weekend comes June 13 when the track hosts five stakes for either Texas-breds or progeny of Texas stallions.

The meet continues through July 11.