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10 Entered for QH Meet's Opening Day Treme Stakes

As purses for American Quarter Horse racing in Louisiana continue to grow, so to does the annual Summer Quarter Horse Meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, expanded to 12 days for the season opening next Wednesday. The largest Quarter Horse meet ever staged in New Orleans will feature a rich stakes schedule worth nearly $600,000 on top of daily overnight purses averaging $120,000.

The season runs Sept. 7-24, Wednesdays to Saturdays, with a first post of 12:40 p.m. CDT daily. General admission is always free during the Summer Quarter Horse meet.

Opening Day will feature the $40,000 Treme Stakes for 3-year-old Louisiana-breds at 350 yards, as well as qualifying heats for the inaugural $290,000 (estimated) Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association Sales Futurity, with the finals to be run Sept. 24.

Other key stakes include the $40,000 Audubon Stakes for older Louisiana-bred females on Sept. 10 and the $40,000 Mid-City Stakes for older Louisiana-breds on Sept. 23. Closing Day features a quartet of stakes: the $30,000 De Saix for 2-year-olds, the $290,000 (estimated) LQHBA Sales Futurity, the $50,000 LQHBA Sales Invitational and the $30,000 Fair Grounds Bonus Challenge, an opportunity for top older horses to qualify for the Bank of America Challenge Championships, the Quarter Horse world’s year-end stakes blowout.

Ten Entered for Treme Stakes
Opening Day entries were taken Wednesday, one week out, and a full field of 10 was entered in the featured $40,000 Treme Stakes, for 3-year-old Louisiana-breds at 350 yards. The likely favorite is Jess Like Alabama, winner of five in a row, including the Grade 3 Vinton Stakes at Delta Downs in July. The Treme attracted the top five finishers from the Vinton, also among them Eyesa Flash, a multiple graded stakes winner with earnings of $235,596.

The Treme will be run as Race 9, at 4:18 p.m. CDT, on Opening Day’s 10-race card. The afternoon’s final race is set for 4:44 p.m.

Top Horsemen Return
As usual, the robust slots-supplemented purses at Fair Grounds have helped to attract some of the sport’s top horsemen. Alfonso Lujan, the all-time leading Summer Quarter Horse jockey at Fair Grounds, will return to defend his 2010 leading rider title against past Fair Grounds champions John Hamilton (2009), Gilbert Ortiz (2009) and Juan Vazquez (2008). Another to look out for is J.R. Ramirez, currently third in the nation by wins.

Kenny Roberts Sr., the track’s all-time leading Summer Quarter Horse trainer, will again be a formidable presence this season. His 36-horse string is the largest on the grounds. Roberts earned his first Fair Grounds title last year with nine wins and will defend that crown against the likes of past Fair Grounds champions Heath Taylor (2009) and Janet Van Bebber (2008). Others expected to make an impact at the top of the standings include Anthony Arey, Guadalupe Garza, Bobby Martinez, Gene Stephens and Michael Zingelmann.

Closing Day Festivities
Whether it’s for the high-quality racing or the variety of delectable food offerings, Closing Day on Sept. 24 promises to be the biggest afternoon of the season. In addition to four important stakes races, NOLAfoodtrucks.com and Fair Grounds will celebrate the culture of street food, food trucks, and beyond at the inaugural Street Fare Derby Presented by Budweiser, from 12:30 to 6 p.m. The afternoon of delicious eats from the street also includes live music by New Orleans mainstays Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers (3-5 p.m.) and Papa Grows Funk (12:30-2:30 p.m.).

Admission to the Street Fare Derby the day of the event is $15. Advance tickets are available online exclusively through StreetFareDerby.com for $10. A one-hour VIP Preview with early access beginning at 11:30 a.m. is also available online for $40 per person, which includes a limited edition t-shirt, a reserved parking space, tastings from vendors, plus beer and cocktails. The Street Fare Derby will continue until 6 p.m., shortly after the day’s final race.

Street Fare Derby is presented by Budweiser, in partnership with Where Y’At Magazine, Gambit Weekly and nola.com.

More Information
The American Quarter Horse, known as “The World’s Fastest Athlete” for short bursts of speed that can reach as high as 55 miles per hour, competes at sprint distances from 220 yards to 870 yards.

2011 Summer Quarter Horse Meet At a Glance

September 7-24, Wednesdays to Saturdays (12 days)

First post 12:40 p.m. daily

Free Grandstand general admission

More info: (504) 944-5515