HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS ANNOUNCES PURSE INCREASE OF $1,500 PER RACE BEGINNING AUGUST 8

The Annual Louisiana Cup Day Will Take Place on Saturday, September19 with the Support of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA)

 

Bossier City, LA – Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is pleased to announce that overnight purses will be increased by $1,500 for the remainder of the 2020 Thoroughbred meet. The adjustment will go into effect on Saturday, August 8 and will continue through the conclusion of the racing season on Wednesday, September 23.

“We thank our local 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, so we are pleased to reward these hard working men and women with a purse increase of $1,500 across the board.”

Further good news is that Louisiana Cup Day will be held at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs on Saturday, September 19.  The annual day of racing, which traditionally takes place in August, showcases accredited Louisiana-bred Thoroughbreds. Due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the event was put on hold, but Roger Heitzmann, Executive Director of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA); Ed Fenasci, Executive Director of the HBPA and David Heitzmann, director of Racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, have worked diligently to put the annual stakes day back on the calendar.  On June 16, the LTBA Board of Directors voted to earmark $100,000 for Louisiana Cup Day.

“We are grateful to LTBA for allocating the funds so we can run Louisiana Cup Day once again this year,” added Heitzmann. “This is a very important day for our breeders, horsemen, and of course, the fans at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.”

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)

 

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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Lone Star Approved for Two Additional Race Dates

Aug. 5 and Aug. 12 will be added to the Thoroughbred meet.

 

The Texas Racing Commission approved July 21 two extra Thoroughbred race dates for Lone Star Park. The racetrack near Dallas recently lost nearly eight whole race days after a racing operations employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Lone Star was granted the requested dates of Aug. 5 and Aug. 12, the first two Wednesdays of next month, for its Thoroughbred meet. The track was originally slated to conduct a 44-day meet April 16-Aug. 11, but did not get underway until May 22 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Racing Resumes at Lone Star Park

The track has raised purses and added racing Aug. 5 and Aug. 12, per the TTA.

 

Lone Star Park, which suspended racing after the first race July 5 when officials were notified an employee involved in operations tested positive for COVID-19, resumed July 19, according to a statement from Kym Koch Thompson, a track spokesperson.

Texas has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 310,000 confirmed cases in state and in excess of 3,700 deaths.

The track has carded four stakes July 22 that were delayed as a result of its suspension of racing.

According to the Texas Thoroughbred Association, Lone Star has increased purses 18%, effective with its reopening Sunday. The TTA-announced increase is not reflected in the purses listed on the track’s drawn races through July 22. Maiden special weight races are shown carrying a purse $34,000, for example, as they were earlier this meet.

The TTA also states that the track will add two additional race days: Aug. 5 and Aug. 12.

Both divisions of the $100,000-estimated Texas Thoroughbred Futurity have been rescheduled for Aug. 11, but the second legs of the Texas Stallion Series have been canceled due to “necessary changes to the race schedule,” the TTA wrote on its website. The TTA said the hope is to run those races in January at Sam Houston Race Park.

Lone Star began a COVID-19-delayed meet May 22 that had originally been scheduled to end Aug. 11.

 

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Del Mar Cancels July 17-19 Racing After 15 More Jockeys Test Positive For COVID-19

by

 

With caution its primary concern, Del Mar has preemptively canceled its next three days of racing, July 17-18-19, after 15 jockeys tested positive for COVID-19. All of Del Mar’s jockeys and jockey room personnel were tested on Tuesday by San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency staff as requested by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif.

“Assuming these individuals continue to show no symptoms, they will be isolated for a total of 10 days and should be able to resume their usual activities, including riding after that time,” said Dr. Eric McDonald, Medical Director, Epidemiology & Immunizations Services, County of San Diego.

“Racing will return on July 24,” said Joe Harper, Del Mar’s CEO. “Canceling this weekend’s races will give us additional time to monitor the situation and give the individuals who tested positive additional time to recover.”

On Tuesday, based on DMTC protocols, as well as direction from medical advisers and county public health officials, the testing was administered by county medical staff. Fifteen of the jockeys tested positive and all were believed to be asymptomatic. Contact tracing procedures are underway in conjunction with the San Diego Health & Human Services Agency. However, a common factor among all but one of the riders that tested positive is that they rode at the recently concluded Los Alamitos meet.

Del Mar officials ordered the testing of all the jockeys and jockeys’ room personnel after two riders, Flavien Prat and Victor Espinoza, tested positive for COVID-19.

“Even though our jockey colony did not exhibit symptoms when they arrived at Del Mar, we made the decision to test everyone as part of protocols we have developed in conjunction with local medical experts and the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency,” said Josh Rubinstein, Del Mar Thoroughbred President and COO. “We put these measures in place to help ensure the safety of all workers at Del Mar and our surrounding community.”

Because of the Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPPA), Del Mar is not allowed to release the names of the affected riders.

In a further safety measure, only jockeys based in California will be permitted to ride at Del Mar for the remainder of the meeting. Jockeys from jurisdictions outside of California will not be allowed to ride at Del Mar. The measure to restrict the riding colony follows a similar announcement Tuesday by the New York Racing Association concerning jockeys at Saratoga Race Course. Under Del Mar’s new policy, until further notice, local jockeys who leave the track to ride at other venues will not be allowed to ride again at Del Mar for the remainder of the summer racing meeting.

Additionally, Del Mar officials are re-configuring and expanding the track’s jockeys’ quarters, including moving some of the functions that normally take place in the jockeys’ room to an adjacent area.

Del Mar has been providing health screening, monitoring and testing resources for barn area workers and essential personnel during its summer meet, which is being held for the first time in the track’s 81-year history without spectators. The meet began Friday July 10th and will conclude on Labor Day, September 7.

Del Mar’s health and safety protocols have been formulated with direct input from medical experts in the community.

“We have worked with Del Mar to apply practical health protocols for its essential personnel and we applaud the track’s continued vigilance to help provide a safe environment for its work force,” said Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, MD, Corporate Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at San Diego’s Scripps Health. “We can reasonably expect that there will be some additional positive tests. The key is to provide strategies and protocols for testing, quarantining, containment and management, all of which Del Mar is doing in cooperation with local public health experts and officials.”

Del Mar’s racing officials have said that many of the races that had been scheduled for the upcoming weekend will be shifted to the following weekend. That includes the Grade 2, $150,000 San Diego Handicap and the Grade 2 $200,000 Eddie Read Stakes.

The Thoroughbred Owners of California said they are in agreement with Del Mar’s measures. “TOC strongly supports the actions taken today by the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in conjunction with the San Diego County Department of Health. The health of our riders is our top priority now.”

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Lone Star Cancels Through Week; Melancon Tests Positive for COVID-19

By Bill Finley

 

With Lone Star Park officials having little to say about the abrupt shut down of racing after Sunday’s first race, it was unclear when racing would resume at the Dallas area track or if the meet will be canceled.

Citing a conversation with racing secretary Tim Williams, the Daily Racing Form reported Monday that the three days of racing scheduled for this week would not be held.

Lone Star’s decision to stop racing may be related to the news that jockey Gerard Melancon has tested positive for the coronavirus. A regular at Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs, Melancon last rode June 28 on shipper Mocito Rojo (Mutadda) in the Lone Star Mile.

Read TDN Article

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Racing Sees Bump in Overall Handle in June

Horseplayers are supporting racing that’s available.

Like all sports, racing is facing challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with extensive coverage on national television, fans are finding the sport.

Those fans wagered nearly $1 billion on available racing in June 2020 as handle for the month actually was up 0.76% to $998,448,300 when compared with June 2019. That bump in handle occurred despite a near 40% reduction in race days to 300. While race dates have been lost as tracks adjust to COVID-19 restrictions, fans are supporting available racing as average wagering per race day jumped 68% in June to $3,328,161.

The available racing product is an upgrade for fans as tracks have spread out their schedules to fill available days—like Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday cards. And, a reduction in racing opportunities has helped increase average field size, up 14% in June to 8.11 starters.

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Citing COVID-19 Concerns, Lone Star Park Halts Live Racing

by | 07.05.2020

Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, abruptly cancelled Sunday’s live racing program after the day’s first race. An announcement on Twitter gave no indication when racing would resume.

“Due to an abundance of caution, all racing operations at Lone Star Park have been suspended due to COVID-19,” the statement said. “Racing will resume at a date to be determined.”

Officials at Lone Star Park could not be reached for further comment.

Multiple sources told the Paulick Report a positive test for COVID-19 has emerged involving an individual employed at the track who has regular contact with jockeys or their valets. An out-of-town rider who recently rode at Lone Star may also have tested positive after returning to his home track from Lone Star, a source said.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Charity Golf Tournament Set for Thursday, August 20

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

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

The sign in for the event’s Four Person Scramble kicks off at 10:00 a.m. with tee off at 10:30 a.m.  The fee is $80 per person or $320 for a four-person team.  The fee includes green fees, golf cart, lunch, and t-shirt/cap.

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

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

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

Attendees can register in person in the Louisiana Downs Racing office, or by mail. Checks should be payable to The Backside Benevolence Fund and mailed to: Jennifer Sokol, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, 8000 East Texas Street, Bossier City, Louisiana, 71111.

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

 

Louisiana Downs Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

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

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

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

 

 

Post Times and Racing Dates

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

 

About Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.

 

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Saving Thoroughbred Racing, A Roadmap

Industry stakeholders urge fellow horseman to come together for a common goal.

 

Dear Friends & Fellow Horsemen;

Our industry stands at a crossroad; if we continue to accept the status quo, it could very well mean the end of Thoroughbred racing in the U.S. as we know it in the next few years. It’s time for tangible changes to finally put the welfare of our horses and the experience of our owners and racing fans first and foremost. We propose four key areas of reform as detailed below to revitalize our sport. Each of us signing this letter has different perspectives; we may not agree with 100% of every word or every suggestion, but we recognize in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “we must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately”.

1.    Make Thoroughbred racing a truly national game, with uniform rules, regulations, promotion and marketing—coordinated and administered by a league office. Imagine the NBA or NFL operating with different rules in every state. If a touchdown was worth 5 points in California, 6 points in Florida and 8 points in New York, football would be totally dysfunctional. That’s exactly how thoroughbred racing functions today. Rules of the game must be uniform nationwide; medication, claiming rules, entry times, rider safety protocols, whip rules, etc. can no longer vary from state to state or track to track. The logical solution is what currently exists for other major sports; a national racing office run by a board comprised of industry stakeholders (owners, trainers, riders, veterinarians, racetrack owners, breeders sale companies and the Jockey Club), headed by a commissioner of racing with the ability to promulgate and enforce rules of the game nationwide.
2.    Embrace national medication regulations. The vast majority of stakeholders strongly support the passage of legislation to provide uniform medication rules and prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs. A program run by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) can address issues of both legal and illegal drug use and put U.S. racing jurisdictions in step with international standards. Many of us have different opinions about the use of race day medications but it’s time to get past the endless debates over Bute and Lasix. Whatever standards an independent regulatory agency comes up with, be it limited and strictly regulated race day Bute and/or Lasix or nothing at all, is something we must all be willing to live with for the greater good of our sport.
3.    Reform claiming races. All too often, claiming races as presently structured are a method of selling unsound horses. It’s time, both for the welfare of the horses and our public image, to turn claiming into a much-needed marketplace to sell good, sound horses. Here’s one approach utilizing an auction process; After each race is run, bidding on each runner starts at the listed claim price and the horse is sold to the highest bidder (no bids and the horse remains with the current owner). An owner may retain their horse if they don’t like the final bid price by paying the underbidder 20% of the highest bid price.
4.    Make ownership a pleasure instead of a hassle. Owners and racing fans are our most important resource and the backbone of our entire industry. The ownership experience needs to be radically reformed to minimize needless hassle and paperwork and guarantee a world-class experience every time an owner visits any racetrack. We need one national license honored in all states. One national Horseman’s Bookkeeper account that can be used at any-all tracks. Guaranteed perks and benefits for all licensed owners (free parking, admissions and programs, premium seating, dining discounts, etc.); every racing day at every venue. It’s time the Sport of Kings starts treating owners as kings instead of as an inconvenience. A high quality ownership experience at every racetrack can fill empty seats with owners, their families and friends.

We submit these as a template for discussion, realizing fully nothing will ultimately be implemented exactly as proposed here. Our goal is to encourage all industry stakeholders to sit down, reach some level of consensus, and come up with a specific, outlined business proposal for a path forward leading to action in each of these vital areas. Everyone in the game has a responsibility to get this right! We live in a different world now and ‘business as usual’ just won’t get it done. Either we get our collective heads out of the sand, grab the reins and take prompt action to bring the Thoroughbred industry into the 21st century or one by one, states will bow to increasing public pressure and outlaw our sport. When properly monitored and conducted, horse racing provides tens of thousands of jobs without mistreating horses and has been part of our social fabric since the beginning of the nation. The current model simply can no longer sustain itself; it’s time to come together and implement changes to finally put the safety of our horses and the total ownership experience first. Let’s get to work!

Thank you!
Ali Rice
Racehorse Stable

Barbara Luna
War Horses at Rose Bower

Becky Thomas
Sequel Bloodstock

Ben Colebrook
Trainer

Ben Taylor
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.   Taylor Made Stallions, Inc.

Bobby Bulger
Founder – Monmouth Racetrack Memories

Bradley Weisbord
BSW Bloodstock/ELiTE Race Sales

Brandon Rice
Racehorse Stable

Donna Morejon
Owner – Sunrise Tack

Duncan Taylor
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.   Taylor Made Stallions, Inc.

Eddie Kenneally
Trainer

Eddie Woods
Eddie Woods Thoroughbred Training Center

Eric Homme
Party of Five Racing

Frank Taylor
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.   Taylor Made Stallions, Inc.

Gary Stevens
Hall of Fame Jockey

George Adams
Housatonic Bloodstock

George Katzenberger
Kenwood Racing, LLC

H. Robb Levinsky
Kenwood Racing, LLC

Jack Czajkowski
Kenwood Racing, LLC

Joe Lewko
Lewko Family Racing

Jennifer Young
Owner-trainer

John B. Madison, VMD
Ocala Equine Hospital

John Hamilton
Former Executive Director
T.O.B.A. and Bloodstock agent for Three Chimneys Farm

Kenny McPeek
Trainer
Founder – Horse Races Now

Lisa Bulger
Founder – Monmouth Racetrack Memories

Mark Taylor
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.; Taylor Made Stallions, Inc.

Niall Brennan
Niall Brennan Stables

Nick & Jaqui de Meric
DeMeric Thoroughbred Sales

Ralph Pastore
Degaetano & Pastore Inc.
Empire Bloodstock

Pat Payne
Taylor Made Sales Agency, Inc.   Taylor Made Stallions, Inc

Ron Spatz
Trainer

Sol Kumin
Head of Plains Partners, LLC

Steven Denholtz
Denholtz Racing

TK Kuegler
Wasabi Ventures Stables

Tristan de Meric
DeMeric Thoroughbred Sales

Valery Mastromanaco
DeMeric Thoroughbred Sales

Wendy and John Slocombe
Owner

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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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