Bossier City, LA – Billy McKeever, Jr. brings a unique skill set to his role as the highly-respected track superintendent at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

The 56-year-old was born in Shreveport and grew up in nearby Benton, Louisiana. His late father, Billy McKeever, Sr., was a very successful Louisiana-base trainer. McKeever followed that same path and trained  for six years, beginning in 2001, winning 59 races. His most prolific runner was Crowned King, who ran third in the 2003 Super Derby at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

In 2006, McKeever was evaluating the future of the Kentucky-bred Crowned King, who had won eight races and bankrolled over $580,000.

“He was six, and I was thinking it might be time to retire him,” recalled McKeever. “I started considering that maybe it was time for me to retire too.”

McKeever applied for the barn area supervisor job at Louisiana Downs and began in January, 2007. He worked closely with Brian Jabelmann, who was a consultant involved in the management of the track surfaces.

Jabelmann recommended McKeever for the job of track superintendent and he has held that position for the past 11 years.

McKeever is supported by a staff of 20 and each team member is fully committed to their assigned duties. Just one example is that two men have the first shift, beginning at 3:00 am to water the track before training begins at 6:00 am.

“Everybody in the department knows their job, but if we get five inches of rain, I don’t have to ask; the entire crew will be out there, opening additional weep holes and doing whatever has to be done to have the track ready for racing,” he explained.

To keep the Franks Turf Course green throughout one of the hottest summers in recent history was no easy feat. McKeever shared that he consulted with Scott Tolar of Evergreen Turf Solutions.

“This year we worked with Scott on a new fertilizer program, which really paid off,” said McKeever. “Of course, 28-30 loads of water each day was required, but the fertilizing program got us the best root I have seen.”

Another very important component of a safe track surface is creating the optimum composite for the main track. McKeever sends samples to Michael Depew, a respected “lab man” in Michigan.

Getting the correct mix of sand and clay is essential and the combination is different for the winter Quarter Horse meet versus the Thoroughbred meet, which runs from May through September.

McKeever is accessible to trainers, jockeys and track veterinarians and takes their feedback into account.

“Probably from training horses, I know that if I getting news about horses having joint or soft tissue injuries, changes might need to be made,” he added.

McKeever gives special thanks to the operations team at Louisiana Downs for approving the necessary funds to ensure safe track surfaces.

“Both Trent McIntosh, and now, Eric Halstrom have been incredibly supportive of spending money when needed,” stated McKeever. “I have gone to them explaining that we need to buy $75,000 worth of material and I get the necessary approval. To know they have the confidence in my judgement means a lot.”

Joey Foster, who is the current leading conditioner at Louisiana Downs, is one of many horsemen to give high marks to McKeever.

“Billy does an awesome job on both our dirt and turf tracks,” said Foster. “We have hardly had any rain, just a sprinkle during our hot summer, but the surfaces continue to be kind to our horses. Plus, we can go to Billy if we have concerns; he does a great job and is a very nice guy!”

And not that anyone would need further proof that horses are pretty important to McKeever, he shared that Crowned King, who is 19, is enjoying retirement on his farm in Benton!



Announcer John McGary Off to Zia Park This Week

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary will wrap up his duties in the booth on Wednesday, September 18. He will head to Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico to call the races for their 2019 live racing season which begins on Saturday, September 21. This will be the third season that McGary has traveled west to call their Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races.

Stepping in for the final four days of the meet will be Brian Arrigoni, who serves as the racing analyst at Canterbury Park. Five years ago, Arrigoni was a fan, attending the races at the popular Minnesota racetrack, and introduced himself to Eric Halstrom, who was their General Manager and now serves as Vice President of Operations at Louisiana Downs. Halstrom was impressed with Arrigoni’s love of racing and hired him. He serves as one of the track’s handicappers and hosts their paddock preview show with a variety of co-hosts, including track announcer Paul Allen. The popular Allen calls play-by-play for the Minnesota Vikings on KFAN and is the voice of the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network. When Allen’s NFL duties took him away from the booth, Arrigoni called the Canterbury Park races on August 18.

“This is a very exciting for me,” said Arrigoni, who will make his first visit to Louisiana.  “I am very grateful to Eric for hiring me at Canterbury and offering me the opportunity to call the final four days of the Louisiana Downs meet.”

The two Minnesota Vikings fans will reunite with Arrigoni stepping in beginning Saturday.

“I’m very familiar with Brian’s abilities and his enthusiasm and love of racing,” said Halstrom. “He will be a great replacement for John during the last week of our meet. It will be an excellent way for him to get some experience and exposure as well.”


Memorable Week for Jockey Emanuel Nieves

Last year’s leading rider Emanuel Nieves was injured in a spill on May 7 and just returned to action at the end of August.  On Wednesday, September 17, he won the sixth race aboard Mizztic Tale for trainer Joey Foster and finished second on Swift Shock in the final race of the afternoon. The 26-year-old native of Puerto Rico had little time to celebrate his comeback victory as he quickly departed for the for the hospital where his wife, Milyorie went into labor with the couple’s first child. Ian Emanuel was born early this morning and all three are doing well!


Trainer, Jock Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

As of September 18, Joey Foster leads his fellow conditioners with 53 wins this season topping.  Karl Broberg who has won 45 races. Beverly Burress has saddled 28 winners and  Jorge Lara andSteve Asmussen are tied for fourth with 19 wins each.

Carlos Lozada continues to lead the jockey standings with 91 wins holding off Joel Dominguez by three win Aubrie Green has won 50 races to move up to third in the standings and Richard Eramiarounds out the top four in the standings with 47 winning mounts.

 End Zone Athletics, Inc. has built an insurmountable lead in the quest for owner honors with 25 wins. Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. is second with 13 winners and Ronnie P. Ward follows with 11 victories and Indian Creek Thoroughbred Farms, LLC rounds out the top four owners with ten winners since the meet began on May 4.


Final Week of the 2019 Thoroughbred Meet

Live racing will be conducted Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday with a 3:15 p.m. (Central) post time through Wednesday, September 25.  The closing day of the season will include the presentation of the End of the Meet honors for the leading owner, trainer and jockey.



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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Champion, Dixie Poker Ace, Humanely Euthanized at 32

dixie poker ace.barksdale.91
Dixie Poker Ace winning the 1991 Barksdale Stakes at Louisiana Downs.

Two time Accredited Louisiana Bred Champion Dixie Poker Ace was humanely euthanized on Monday, September 16 at Lora Pitre’s Peach Lane Farms in Opelousas. He was 32.

The bay gelded son of Patriotically, out of the Poker mare Hot Stripper, started 86 times in a race career that ran from ages two to nine with a record of 27-17-15. At one time, Dixie Poker Ace was the leading Louisiana Bred money earner. His lifetime earnings of $850,126 continue to keep him among the top all-time Louisiana bred runners, currently ranking him 14th.

He won a remarkble 18 stakes races including three consecutive runnings of the Louisiana Champions Day Turf Stakes (1991-93) and placed in an additional 21 stakes including a third place finish in the 1994 G3 Ark-La-Tex Handicap. The same year, he set a new course record at Fair Grounds running the approximate 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.00. In 2001, Fair Grounds initiated the Dixie Poker Ace Handicap in his honor.

In 1991 and 1992, he was voted Accredited Louisiana Bred Champion 4 Year Old & Upwards Male by the membership of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

By Patriotically, a half brother to multiple graded placed stakes winner Northerly, Dixie Poker Ace was bred in Louisiana by venerable horseman, the late John Franks.

Since his May 1996 retirement, Dixie Poker Ace lived a long and happy life turned out in the pastures of Peach Lane Farms where he was a beloved fixture. “It was a honor and privilege to be his caretaker for the 22 plus years he resided at my farm,” says Pitre. “It’s like losing a member of my family.”

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Illinois Racing Board Threatens to Shut Down Arlington

Board may deny track 2020 dates after gaming refusal.


The Illinois Racing Board Sept. 17 threatened to deny Arlington International Racecourse racing dates for 2020 unless its owner, Churchill Downs Inc., can demonstrate within one week a concrete commitment to racing. The board adjourned its annual dates-award hearing until Sept. 24 and appointed a three-member committee to listen to “any new proposal which Churchill may wish to make.”

The action stems from a CDI decision not to apply for a gaming license at Arlington under terms of a new state law—an action that would cost purse accounts many millions of dollars a year. The decision, after years of Arlington lobbying for the right to run casino games, came some five months after CDI took a majority stake in Rivers Casino, located less than 15 miles from Arlington.


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A Young Man, an Old Man, a Second Chance, and a Dream; Brought Together in the Form of Gemologist filly, Horologist

by Bill Finley 

Cameron Beatty was at that stage in life–young, healthy, athletic, motivated, naive–where he never even imagined the possibility that everything he had could be taken away from him. He was the starting quarterback at Freehold Township (NJ) High School and had accepted an offer to play at Fairleigh Dickinson, where he had an academic scholarship. He was going places, and on the fast track.

In an instant, everything changed.

In 2010, Beatty, now 27, was on his way to the gym to workout when he had a motorcycle accident so serious that it nearly cost him his life. He suffered a brain injury, a ruptured spleen and internal bleeding. At first, the doctors did not realize the extent of the spleen injury and the bleeding it was causing, but when his heart rate dropped to under 20 beats per minute he was rushed into emergency surgery.

“I woke up one morning bleeding to death,” he said.

It was a windy, grey morning on the backstretch at Monmouth Park as Beatty told his story. He was there not just to talk about his accident but about the horse he owns, Horologist (Gemologist). The New Jersey-bred is coming off an upset win over 2018 Eclipse Award winner Jaywalk (Cross Traffic) in the GIII Monmouth Oaks and is preparing for the biggest start of her career, the GI Cotillion S. Sept. 21 at Parx. Life is good now. He’s married, got his degree from New Jersey City University, recovered from his accident to the point where he was able to play semi-pro football and owns a valuable and talented horse.


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Equine Sales Company Final Entries Being Accepted for October Open Yearling and Mixed Sale




Final Days of Taking Entries!!!!

Click Below for Contract:
If you have questions regarding entries into this sale, please call Sales Director, Foster Bridewell, for an evaluation and inspection of your Weanlings, Yearlings, Horses of Racing Age or Broodmares.
Sale Date:
Sunday October 27, 2019
Need a Catalog or to be added to our Email List for On-Line Catalog or Sales Info???
Please Call our Office at:
We will be Happy to Assist You!

Equine Sales Company
372 Harry Guilbeau Road
Opelousas, Louisiana  70570
Office:  337-678-3024 * Fax:  337-678-3028
Sale Director:  Foster Bridewell
Cell:  214-718-7618
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September 15, 2019

Into Mischief | Paddock 2014 | Barbara Livingston Photo

Into Mischief, the current No. 1 General Sire in North America, will stand in 2020 for a fee of $175,000 S&N and has been booked full.

“The rise of Into Mischief has been special to witness, and there’s every indication that the best is yet to come. We genuinely believe he’s the best sire in the world, and is on the verge of becoming an important sire of sires when you look at what Goldencents is doing,” said Ned Toffey, general manager at Spendthrift.

“I don’t know if we’ve seen anything quite like Into Mischief, it’s truly remarkable the things he’s doing. Aside from amounting results on the track and in the sales ring, he’s the consummate professional and loves his job. This year, over 96% of his mares checked in foal. We think Into Mischief is making a positive impact on the breed that will be felt for years to come, particularly with the heart and durability that are signatures of his offspring,” he added.

Into Mischief ranks as the leading sire in the land in 2019, with $12,779,193 in progeny earnings – more than a million ahead of No. 2 Tapit – through Saturday according to BloodHorse. Into Mischief has sired industry highs in black type horses with 45 and Grade One horses with 8 to date in 2019, led by his newest Grade One winners Mia Mischief and Covfefe.

In the sales ring, Into Mischief had an industry-high four 2-year-olds sell for seven figures in 2019, led by a $1,800,000 filly at the Fasig-Tipton Timonium sale in May – breaking a record for the highest-priced horse ever sold publicly in Maryland. He also sired the $1,300,000 sale topper at OBS April and $900,000 sale topper at OBS June this year, giving him an industry-high four 2-year-old sale toppers in the last two years.

Into Mischief’s impact is also being felt as a sire of sires. Goldencents, Into Mischief’s first son to enter stud, is the No. 1 Second Crop Sire in North America in 2019. His newest son to stud, Maximus Mischief, was recently announced to be standing alongside Into Mischief and Goldencents at Spendthrift for an introductory fee of $7,500 S&N in 2020.

By Harlan’s Holiday, Into Mischief is out of 2016 Broodmare of the Year Leslie’s Lady. Spendthrift plans to announce fees for the rest of its 2020 stallion roster in the near future. The farm is currently offering early-bird pricing on the majority of its roster.


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Study Connects Rise in Inbreeding to Larger Books

An analysis of inbreeding over 45 years shows the biggest increase during 1996-2006.


A 2011 study showing an increase in inbreeding in the Thoroughbred during a 45-year period from 1961-2006 also concluded the majority of the increase occurred during the last 10 years of the study period—a time coinciding with a sharp rise in the number of stallions being bred to books of 100 mares or more. Dr. Matthew Binns was the lead author of the study “Inbreeding in the Thoroughbred horse” that appeared in a June 2011 edition of Animal Genetics. The genotyping of 467 Thoroughbreds born between 1961-2006 showed an increase in the average inbreeding coefficient. More significantly, the study notes, the majority of the increase occurred during 1996-06, when the number of North American stallions breeding 100 or more mares in a given season rose from 14 to 128. In 1996, 14 North American stallions covered 100 mares or more. Only five years earlier only one stallion—Alydar—had bred a book of mares exceeding 100.

“My conclusion was that the data was showing the start of a trend that could become worrisome and needed monitoring,” Binns told BloodHorse. “It was starting to show this increase as a result of the big books.”


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EIPH Research Unveils Possible 24-Hour Furosemide Dose

Emphasis placed on strategies to control EIPH without race-day medication

Two research projects on Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage solicited by The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and funded in cooperation with The Jockey Club, the AAEP Foundation, Keeneland Association, Oak Tree Racing Association, The Stronach Group, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Downs, New York Racing Association, The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Oaklawn Park, and The Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association have now appeared in peer-reviewed journals.

Knych HK, Wilson WD, Vale A, et al.
Effectiveness of furosemide in attenuating exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage in horses when administered 4- and 24-h prior to high speed training. Equine Vet J. 2017;50:350-355.

Bayly W, Lopez C, Sides R, et al.
Effect of different protocols on the mitigation of exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage in horses when administered 24 hours before strenuous exercise. J Vet Intern Med. 2019; 1–8.

In March 2015, a special call for research on exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage was issued by The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. Emphasis was placed on strategies to control EIPH without race-day medication. Two projects were selected. The premise of the research was to look at the post-treatment effect of furosemide (Salix, or Lasix) if it had been given 24 hours before exercise with water intake limited to maintenance water levels (which are known).

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Full Fields, Exciting Finishes and Enthusiastic Crowds for the Marquee Day of the 2019 Thoroughbred Racing Season


Bossier City, LA – It was a very impressive win by Rotation, the champion of Saturday’s Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. The colt by Tapit out of the Olympio mare Free Spin, bred and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC, was the second consecutive winner of the championship for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, but there were plenty of firsts on the stakes-filled card.

Jockey Richard Eramia won  his first Super Derby and was thrilled with the performance of his colt, following his misfortune in last month’s Super Derby Prelude, in which Rotation stumbled to his knees out of the gate, almost unseating his rider. However, the gray colt showed his best form last Saturday, when he closed powerfully to win his first stakes score.

“It was a very special win for me,” said Eramia.  “I have always wanted to win the Super Derby. Louisiana Downs has been very good for my career; I have won a lot of races here and like both track surfaces.”

Born in Uruguay, Eramia, celebrated his 40th birthday on June 24. He began his United States riding career in 2005, and the Super Derby victory was just the fourth graded stakes of his career in which he has guided 2,337 horses to the finish line and amassed purses of $49.1 million. His previous Grade 3 wins came on Grand Contender and Comic Burst. His lone Grade 2 was in the 2012 Smile Sprint Handicap aboard Gantry at Calder Race Course.

“I’m still working on my first Grade 1,” Eramia said with a smile.

Eramia has returned to Remington Park, where he has won plenty of races, including his 2,000th career milestone .

Another rider, Devin Magnon, won the first stakes win of his career, guiding High on Gin to the upset in the $60,000 Happy Ticket. As reported by Bloodhorse, the victory marked the first black-type win for her sire, Fury Kapcori, She was bred in Florida by Deborah A. Silveira. High on Gin was a $7,500 purchase by Jerry Caroom from GOP Racing Stable Corporation’s consignment to the Ocala Breeders’ Sales June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale.

Trainer Carl J. Deville reports that his filly came out of The Happy Ticket  in good order and I under consideration for the $75,000 Our Dear Peggy on September 28 at Gulfstream Park.

“I was not surprised that she won her stakes debut last Saturday,” he said. “She’s a big, long filly; bred for the grass and definitely wants to route. Even when she broke her maiden, she came home fast and showed she wanted to go further.”

It was also the first time jockey Lane Luzzi had ever ridden at Louisiana Downs and he made the most of his debut by winning the $60,000 Sunday Silence with Deviant, trained by Danny Pish for owner Red Lane Thoroughbreds LLC.

Festivities included a Jockey Autograph signing to benefit the PDJF, Super Derby Hat Contest, handicapping seminar and children’s activities on the sunny day with temps over 100 degrees.

“Despite the heat, we had a very good turnout for Super Derby 40,” said Eric Halstrom, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Vice President of Operations.  “We appreciate our fans, horsemen and the tremendous effort of each of our employees in making Super Derby 40 run so smoothly.”


Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

As of September 10, Joey Foster tops his fellow conditioners with 50 wins this season topping.  Karl Broberg with 45 victories. Beverly Burress has saddled 27 winners, including   Run Rocket in Saturday’s$60,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin, to take sold possession of third place. Horsemen Jorge Lara, Joe O. Duhon and Steve Asmussen have each won 18 races.

Carlos Lozada continues to lead the jockey standings with 88 wins, including a stakes victory by Eskenformore in the $60.000 River Citieson Saturday’s Super Derby card.  He guided the mare, who was sent off at odds of 30-1, to victory over nine rivals for owner/breeder Sugarland Thoroughbreds LLC.  Joel Dominguez is second with 85 trips to the winner’s circle and Richard Eramia, who won the Grade 3 Super Derby aboard Rotation is third with 47 wins. Aubrie Green has won 45 races to round out the top four in the standings. 

End Zone Athletics, Inc. has built an insurmountable lead in the quest for owner honors with 25 wins. Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. is second with 13 winners and Ronnie P. Ward  and Indian Creek Thoroughbred Farms, LLC are tied for third with ten wins each.

The leaders in each division will be honored on Wednesday, September 25, which is the final day of the 2019 Thoroughbred racing season.



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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