FOUR WIN SATURDAY AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS VERY SPECIAL FOR JOCKEY JOEL DOMINGUEZ

Bossier City, LA – Jockey Joel Dominguez is still smiling as he reflects on winning four races on Saturday’s seven-race card at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.

His successful afternoon began in race two with Don Guillermo ($8) for trainer James “Sweet” Hodges and three for Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen; All Bizness ($3); American Dream ($5) and Curlin Beauty ($11.80). Curlin Beauty, a 4-year-old daughter of Curlin, drew off to an eight-length score in her third career effort, but it was American Dream is a filly by Triple Crown champion American Pharoah that really impressed her rider.

“She’s still learning, but what a powerful filly,” stated Dominguez.

The 30-year-old Dominguez was born in Durango, Mexico, but never rode as a child. He was very athletic, playing soccer and was a standout boxer in his weight class. His experience in the saddle began in Kentucky, galloping for both Asmussen and veteran Kentucky-based conditioner, Neil Howard.

“Riding for Steve this meet means a great deal to me,” stated Dominguez. “When I was in Kentucky, I worked hard and tried to learn everything. As I progressed, 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!”

This is the fourth year 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. Maybe more than smoothly as he won six races on the June 23, 2018 card at Louisiana Downs. But winning four races in this very challenging 2020 live racing season was an even bigger accomplishment.

“It hasn’t been easy,” he responded when asked about the impact of COVID-19. “When we were in quarantine, I just tried to get things done at the house and spend time with my family (wife Janet and two sons). I was missing getting on horses.”

The resumption of live racing on June 6 was a big relief to Dominguez and he has been winning plenty of races for this season for Asmussen. Misty Drinkwater is serving as assistant again this year and she appreciates what Dominguez brings to the Asmussen barn.

“He’s hard working and very professional, “she said. “We get along very well and he has been a big part of our team here.”

Dominguez is represented by 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 won 91 races here last year, finishing second in the standings to Carlos Lozada who made 96 trips to the winner’s circle. He appreciates that the racing officials at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs have worked hard to maintain the recommended protocols for COVID-19.

“I ride with a mask and shield protector,” he said. “Everyone here is trying to make it safe for us, so each of the riders are making adjustments and doing what we need to do.”

 

 

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 personor $320 for a four-person team.  The fee includes green fees, golf cart, lunch, and t-shirt/cap.

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 July 25, Karl Broberg tops the trainer standings with 23 wins since the meet began on June 6. Steve Asmussen is second with 18 victories.  Last year’s leading conditioner Joey Foster is tied with Shane Wilson for third; both have 13 winners.  Joe O. Duhon and Ronnie P. Ward are tied with nine wins each.

Joel Dominguez, aided by his four-bagger on Saturday, has taken the lead in the jockey standings with 30 wins. Jack Gilligan, who rides first-call for Broberg, is second with 26 trips to the winner’s circle. Last year’s leading jockey Carlos Lozada has ridden 22 winners to date and Jose Guerrero rounds out the top four with 19 victories.

Steve Asmussen has moved into the lead in the owner standings with seven wins from 18 starts. End Zone Athletics Inc. has moved into the lead in the owner standings with 12 wins from 23 starts.  End Zone Athletics, Inc and Wayne T. Davis are tied for second with nine wins and horses owned by Ronnie P. Ward have won six races to date.

 

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

Obituary: Constan Anthony “Connie” Tassistro

Constan “Connie” Anthony Tassistro passed away on July 17, 2020 at Jefferson HealthCare Center, at the age of 89 years.

Connie was born in New Orleans on September 16, 1930, graduated from St. Aloysius High School, and served in the United States Army. He had a successful career as an owner and trainer of thoroughbred race horses at the New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Track and other race tracks all over America. Connie gave Joseph Talamo, III, apprentice champion jockey in American Thoroughbred horse racing, his start.

Connie is survived by his niece, Suzette Tassistro McGoey, his nephew, John Tassistro, and other loving relatives, race track friends, and neighbors. Honorary Pall Bearers are: John Tassistro, Gerard Ramos, Joe Talamo Jr., Dallas Stewart, Stewart Dimak, Ronnie Bertucci, and Eddie Delahoussaye.

Relatives, neighbors, and friends are invited to attend the visitation services at Greenwood Funeral Home, 5200 Canal Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70124 on Saturday, July 25, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. A Funeral Mass will be held at Noon. Interment will follow at Greenwood Cemetery. Family, neighbors, and friends invite you to share your thoughts, fond memories, and condolences online, at www.greenwoodfh.com.

 

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.

Catalog Now Online for Texas Summer Yearling and Horses of Racing Age Sale, Online Bidding to Be Offered

A catalog of 175 head is now online for the Texas Summer Yearling and Horses of Racing Age Sale set for August 24 at 12 noon CDT at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie. Sponsored by the Texas Thoroughbred Association and Lone Star Park, the sale will welcome bidders on site with enhanced safety protocols and for the first time will also offer live online bidding for those who cannot attend in person. Online Bidders must be registered at one week before the sale, no later than 12 noon on August 17.

“We had to cancel our 2-year-old sale due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve been working since then to ensure we are able to conduct this sale because of its importance to the region,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the TTA. “We normally wouldn’t have a horses of racing age session at this sale, but we are happy to offer that this year to fill the needs of consignors and buyers. The HORA section is quite impressive.”

Ruyle credited higher purses in Texas and a new consignor incentive program as two of the reasons that this year’s sale has twice the number of yearlings as last year.

“In addition to boosting purses in Texas, the passage of HB 2463 allows the horse industry to create new ways to grow, so we were able to provide consignors with a rebate of up to half the consignment fee,” she said. “We saw a great response to that incentive, which resulted in more consignors bringing their horses to sell in Texas.”

The sale will utilize a live online bidding system along with improved online video. 

“We made an investment in technology to allow buyers to bid from anywhere,” said Tim Boyce, sales director. “Starting in early August we will allow online bidders to register in advance, so we encourage anyone who is interested to do that on our website.”

The sale will kick off with a horses of racing age session including 2-year-olds in training by top sires such as Too Much Bling, Texas Red, Astrology and Twirling Candy. Among the older horses on offer are Herbs Love, a daughter of Etesaal who in her most recent start won the $75,000 San Jacinto Turf Stakes at Lone Star Park.

The yearling session will include 151 head by leading regional sires such as Too Much Bling, Star Guitar, Flat Out, Court Vision and My Golden Song. Top national sires including Tonalist, Sky Mesa, Bayern, Honor Code and California Chrome are also represented.

The online catalog and more information are available at www.ttasales.com.

 

For more information, contact Mary Ruyle at maryr@texasthoroughbred.com or 512-458-6133

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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LTBA Earmarks $100,000 Contribution to Enable Running of Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs

The Board of Directors of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, voted at their June 16th meeting to earmark $100,000 dollars to be used for Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs in hopes that a card will be put together.

Louisiana Cup Day is a day of racing designed to showcase accredited Louisiana bred thoroughbreds at Louisiana Downs.  The event  includes multiple Louisiana bred stakes races.

Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, and its effects on racing, Louisiana Downs cut the stakes program from its condition book this year in order to keep overnight purses at a solid level. Consequentially, Louisiana Cup Day was suspended for 2020.

Not satisfied with this turn of events, Roger Heitzmann, Executive Director of the LTBA; Ed Fenasci, Executive Director of the HBPA and David Heitzmann, director of Racing at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, put their heads together to work on a plan to revive the Louisiana bred stakes day.  “We have been working on possible ways to bring back Louisiana Cup Day,” said Roger Heitzmann. “I believe we can get there, but a lot depends on handle. We can’t count on the funds we normally receive from slots and video poker. Hopefully field size remains at a good number. Larger fields will help entice the patrons to wager on Louisiana Downs.”

“Roger presented us with a plan which we believe will work,” said Warren Harang III, President of the LTBA. “We will be creative and work outside the box to accomplish this. We will be utilizing funds that we don’t normally use for purse supplements. Helping the horsemen of Louisiana is always our mission. Adding back six black-type races helps the the breeders, the horsemen participating in the races, as well as the track itself.”

Each  of Louisiana’s four racetracks has a day designated for Louisiana bred thoroughbred stakes. In addition to Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, there is Louisiana Premier Night at Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana Legends Night at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, as well as Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

Louisiana Downs has opened the meet with good number so far. If Louisiana Cup Day is added back to the schedule, it will likely be run near the end of the meet in late September.

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.

 

Obituary: Margie K. Averett

Margie Lee Kinchen Averett

 

Margie Lee Kinchen Averett, age 85, passed away on July 13, 2020. She was a resident of Loranger, LA.

A long time Louisiana thoroughbred breeder, Margie was named the 2017 Leading Louisiana Breeder by Breeders Awards. In 2020, she is represented by Mariah’s Galaxy who has won both the LA Bred Premier Night Distaff Stakes and the recent Louisiana Legends Turf Distaff Stakes.

Margie was the valedictorian of her graduating class from Albany High School. Margie retired from Hammond Vocational School after 33 years of service. She enjoyed many hobbies that included cooking, crafting, and sewing. Margie was infamous for her parties and entertaining. Time with her family is what she cherished most.

Margie is survived by sons, Ronnie Averett and wife Kathleen, and Gerald “Dewey” Averett, Jr. and fiancee’ Michelle Hamilton; brothers, Bruce Kinchen and Albert Kinchen; grandchildren, Gerald Averett, III and fiancee’ Angela Thompson, Lacey Lee Averett Ard and husband Charlie, Kylie Averett, and Heath Averett; great grandchildren, Madelyn Kinlee Ard and Mallory Klaire Ard. Also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Gerald Averett, Sr.; parents, Fannie and Ivy Kinchen; sisters, Monelle Kinchen Bankston and husband Pete, Fannie Kinchen Jordan and husband Ras, and Ivy Kinchen; brothers, Hollis Kinchen and wife Betty, Ivy Kinchen and wife Clare, Benjamin Kinchen and wife Hilda Kinchen Misita; grandparents, Benjamin and Ella Kinchen; and sisters-in-law, Carolyn DePriest Kinchen and Mattie Mae Kinchen.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend the visitation in the chapel of Brandon G. Thompson Funeral Home, 12012 Hwy 190 W, Hammond, LA, on Friday, July 17, 2020 from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. The funeral service will begin at 12 p.m. and interment to follow at Averett Family Cemetery, Loranger, LA.

The family would like to extend a special thanks to Joanna Hernandez, Jose Hernandez, Georgiana Bankston, Michelle Hamilton, Dr. Leonard Treanor, Dee Lance, Modern Home Health and Hospice, and Doreen Ward.

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

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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.”

Half Ours Colt a Bargain Find for O’Neill

Juvenile was purchased for $185,000 July 15 at the OBS July Sale

Bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill made his move early during the July 15 second session of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales July 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale for what many might consider an unlikely horse.

Consigned as Hip 383 by Blue River Bloodstock, agent, the colt by Louisiana stallion Half Ours  fell O’Neill’s way on a final bid of $185,000 after a brief battle inside the pavilion. For O’Neill, the asking price was a steal for a horse who showed tremendous aptitude during the under tack show, working a quarter-mile in :20 1/5.

Speedy Louisiana Bred Half Ours Colt Purchased for $185,000 at OBS

With the Two-Year-Old sales somewhat delayed due to the pandemic in full swing, it is obvious that there is still the demand for good horses. Today at the Ocala Breeders Sales Company sale, Dennis O’Neill paid $185,000 for a colt by Half Ours who had recorded the fastest quarter of a mile of any horse at the sale when he got the distance in 20:1. O’Neill typically buys horses that are trained by his brother, Doug O’Neill, who has trained two Kentucky Derby winners in I’ll Have Another and Nyquist. Consigned by Blue River Bloodstock, Inc., Agent IV, the colt was bred in Louisiana out of the winning Into Mischief dam, All About Ju Ju, by the Summer Hill Equine of William Andrade.

Clear Creek Stud and others will be offering yearlings by Half Ours at the upcoming Equine Sales Company Consignor Select Yearling Sale scheduled for August 20th in Opelousas, Louisiana, and the Texas Thoroughbred Summer Yearling  Sale scheduled for August 24th at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie, Texas.