LOYAL OWNERS KEEP TRAINER SHANE WILSON ON TOP AT LOUISIANA DOWNS

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.

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.