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"And Now The End Is Near"

It is hard to believe that the end of this Fair Grounds racing season is rapidly approaching. As of today, Friday, March 19th, we've got only seven racing days left to go. The exciting thing about these last seven days is the amount of stakes action we'll get to see. Starting with tomorrow's card, we've got the Costa Rising Stakes for older Louisiana breds going long on the main track. It's a well-balanced field of eight scheduled to go postward, including the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable owned entry of Snug and Hallway. Hallway looks like he might be the horse to beat again.

Starting with next Friday, the last three days of the meet will offer a total of 11 stakes races in all types of categories, but the highlight will be the 97th running of the Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby for three-year-olds going one mile and an eighth on Saturday. The post position draw will be held this Monday, so we'll know well in advance who's coming for the "Run for the Orchids". Friday's highlight will be the 44th running of the Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks for three-year old fillies going one mile and a sixteenth. We'll talk more about who's hot and who's not in the plethera of stakes to be offered in next week's blog.

As many of you know, this past Tuesday night the 2010 Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fundraiser was held at the Best Western Landmark Hotel in Metairie. I'm happy to report that it was an overwhelming success. Not only did everyone have a great time, but we raised a very generous amount of money to help the Don MacBeth Fund carry on their relief efforts to injured and disabled jockeys and exercise riders. When everything is said and done and collected and counted, it looks the MacBeth Fund is going to receive a check for around $16,000 dollars from everyone's hard work, contributions and donations.

Again, this was a great effort from everyone and I've got to take this time to especially thank a few people who worked really hard to make this event the success it was. I want to thank my very patient wife, Jeanette, Shantel Lanerie, Angie Hebert, Jamie and Laura Sisson, Dr. Catherine Mauberret and Charlotte Burgess. Without them, the event would not have gone as smooth as it did.

I'd also like to thank the sponsors - Maurice and Evelyn Benoit's Brittlyn Stable, the Louisiana H.B.P.A. Office, the L.T.B.A., Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots, Thoroughbred Transport, Crosby Tugs, LLC, Southern Oaks Plantation, Wholesale Siding Supply, Inc. EKCO Electrical Contractors, Timponi, Inc. and Southern Equine Stables, LLC for their financial support. We also had, what I called, our "Super Six" trainers help support the event. They were Tom Amoss, Cody Autry, Bret Calhoun, Corale "Bunky" Richards, Al Stall, Jr. and Michael Stidham.

The great thing about this fundraiser is that we exposed about 40-50 first timers to something new, the MacBeth Fund, and they got a chance to see what good race track people are all about. Those first timers were friends and followers of the band Harvey Jesus and Fire that provided the musical entertainment and I think we made some new friends and not only will we see them at next year's fundraiser, but we just might see them at the race track for the first time in the near future.

The schedule of activities for the night included a live and silent auction, a 50 / 50 raffle, a raffle of two tubs of premium liquor and lots of door prize giveaways, but the highlight of the night was the dance contest which was won by Joe Sharp (assistant for the Michael Stidham barn) and jockey Rosie Napravnik (she was visiting from New York). Everyone watching was in awe of the precision of their dance moves. Twice during the dance-off song, Michael Jackson's Dont Stop Till You Get Enough, Joe flipped Rosie over his back in an acrobatic dance move that  had onlookers screaming and clapping. Rumor has it that the next stop for the Sharp - Napravnik team could be on Thoroughbred racing's edition of Dancing with the Stars.

The total success of the night was because of the involvement of a lot of people and I would again like to thank everyone who helped in any way, shape or form. Plans are already in motion to make next year's event bigger and better.

Next blog, we'll look at the "Big" races coming up in the final three days of racing.