139th Thoroughbred Racing Season Opens Thanksgiving Day

The best that Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has to offer will be bigger and better during the 139th Thoroughbred Racing Season, which runs from Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 2010, to March 27, 2011. The meet’s centerpiece event, the March 26 Louisiana Derby for horses making their last stop before the world-famous Kentucky Derby, has had its purse boosted to $1 million, from last year’s $750,000. In addition, the popular Starlight Racing series that debuted in 2010 has been expanded so that every month will feature an upscale social event with live racing under the lights.

The 84-day 2010-2011 Thoroughbred Racing Season will run Thursdays to Mondays through February and Fridays to Mondays in March, except on Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve) and Dec. 25 (Christmas Day). Live racing also will be conducted on Dec. 22 and March 8 (Mardi Gras Day).

First post is set for 12:40 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST) daily, except on Opening Day (Nov. 25; first post is 11 a.m.), graded stakes days (Jan. 22, Feb. 19 and March 26; first post is 12:10 p.m.) and Starlight Racing nights (Dec. 17, Jan. 21, Feb. 18 and March 18; first post is 5 p.m.).

Reservations for Clubhouse dining and box seats will be taken by phone at (504) 943-2200 or 1-800-262-7983 beginning Oct. 18 at 9 a.m. General admission to the Grandstand is always free and Clubhouse admission is $7, except for Starlight Racing ($10).

“The quality of racing at Fair Grounds compares favorably with any winter racetrack in the country,” said Fair Grounds Vice President and General Manager Eric Halstrom. “We feature impressive average field sizes, an abundance of turf racing, and a sizable population of accomplished horses that allows us to not only write a lot of allowance races but to actually fill them and run them. Between the great racing and a full calendar of special events led by the expanded Starlight Racing series, we think this will be one of the most exciting meets ever.”

For more information on Fair Grounds racing, gaming or special events, visit FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.

Key Racing Dates
The racing calendar is highlighted by six key dates, all of which feature a minimum of five stakes races:

-    Dec. 11, Louisiana Champions Day, with 11 stakes races worth $1.1 million for top Louisiana-breds

-    Dec. 18, Santa Super Saturday, with five open-company stakes races worth $300,000

-    Jan. 22, Road to the Derby Kickoff Day, with six stakes worth $480,000, including the season’s first major 3-year-old prep race, the Grade III Lecomte Stakes

-    Feb. 19, Louisiana Preview Day, with six stakes races worth $820,000, including four graded stakes, highlighted by the Grade II Risen Star Stakes for 3-year-olds

-    March 25, Battle on the Bayou, with five stakes worth $330,000 for top Louisiana-breds

-    March 26, Louisiana Derby Day, with six stakes worth $2.2 million, including five six-figure open-company stakes, highlighted by the $1 million Louisiana Derby, the Deep South’s only million-dollar Thoroughbred race

Starlight Racing Dates
Starlight Racing – the upscale night racing experience with live music, DJs, drink specials, cuisine from famous New Orleans restaurants and more – returns this season with an expanded calendar. The 2010-2011 Starlight Racing series covers five dates, one per month from November to March, including four during the Thoroughbred Racing Season.

The first Starlight Racing event of the season is set for Nov. 19, the night of the 2010 Bank of America Challenge Championships, featuring 13 stakes races for American Quarter Horses.

Four Starlight Racing programs are scheduled for the Thoroughbred meet, on Dec. 17, Jan. 21, Feb. 18 and March 18. First post for Starlight Racing is 5 p.m. and guests are asked to “dress to impress.”

Bands and DJs for each Starlight Racing date will be announced in coming weeks.

High Quality Racing, World-Class Horsemen
Fair Grounds will once again offer some of the best winter racing in North America, with daily average purses of $320,000 and a stakes schedule comprised of 63 stakes cumulatively worth nearly $6.7 million.

Several high-profile horsemen are expected to have a base at Fair Grounds this year. Steve Asmussen, on track to be the nation’s leading trainer for a seventh time, will gun for what would be a record 10th Fair Grounds training title. All of last season’s top 20 trainers are expected to return, including Fair Grounds fixtures like Tom Amoss, a nine-time leading trainer here; Al Stall Jr., trainer of Horse of the Year contender Blame; and Bret Calhoun, a Top 10 trainer nationally and second in last year’s Fair Grounds standings.

The deep jockey colony will be headed once again by big-money rider Robby Albarado, winner of multiple Grade I stakes this year, as well as last season’s leading rider, Shaun Bridgmohan.