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Into the Stretch at Fair Grounds...
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has saved plenty of action for the home stretch of its 140th Thoroughbred Racing Season, with the biggest stakes and best parties still to come in the meet’s final five weeks. Highlights include the 2012 debut of Horse of the Year Havre de Grace in the March 17 New Orleans Ladies, two more Starlight Racing events on March 16 and 30, and an epic closing weekend with Fair Grounds Oaks Day on March 31 and Louisiana Derby Day on April 1.
Below are all of the live racing dates and special events to look forward to the rest of this season:
Now Through April 1 – Live Thoroughbred Racing
Five more weeks – 20 live racing days in all – remain in the 140th Thoroughbred Racing Season. Racing is scheduled Thursdays to Sundays now through April 1. First post is 12:40 p.m. (all times Central), except on Starlight Racing nights (March 16 and 30, 5 p.m.) and graded stakes days (March 31 and April 1, 12:10 p.m.).
March 4 – New Owners Seminar with Barry Irwin
Learn about the joys of horse ownership from a man who has experienced both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in Thoroughbred racing, Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor International, owner of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Guests will enjoy a full day at the races in the Fair Grounds Suite with lunch included and have their photo taken with the Kentucky Derby winning owner trophy (a smaller version of the famous trophy presented after the race). Irwin will address the group and all will have the opportunity to visit the paddock and winner’s circle. Seminar at 11 a.m.; first post is 12:40 p.m. Admission $35 per person. Reservations required. Contact Sandra Salmen in Horsemen’s Relations for reservations or more information at (504) 948-1150 or Sandra.Salmen@fgno.com.
March 10 – Hall of Fame Day
The 2012 class of the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame will be inducted in winner’s circle ceremonies between races. This year’s inductees are Dapper Delegate, the 1965 Louisiana Derby winner; Bobby Frankel, the only trainer to have won all four of Fair Grounds’ marquee season-ending stakes races; J.R. Smith Sr., trainer of several Fair Ground stakes winners, including 1967 Louisiana Derby hero Ask the Fare; and Al Stall Jr., conditioner of more than a dozen Fair Grounds stakes winners and twice the track’s leading trainer. First post 12:40 p.m. Grandstand General Admission, FREE; Clubhouse General Admission, $7.
March 13 – Louisiana Derby Golf Tournament
The Louisiana Derby Golf Tournament returns to Lakewood Golf Club for an afternoon of food and fun to benefit the Fair Grounds backstretch community. Come early to enjoy a sprawling lunch spread by Messina’s Catering and stay late for the raffle with donated prizes ranging from golf bags to coolers to sports memorabilia. Lunch is included with registration. $100 per person or $400 per foursome. General public welcome! Registration opens at 11:30 a.m., lunch is served at noon, and golf begins with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Contact Sandra Salmenin Horsemen’s Relations for more information at (504) 948-1150 or Sandra.Salmen@fgno.com.
March 16 – Starlight Racing with Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters
The hottest Friday night scene in town features live music by Louisiana legends Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters in the Clubhouse and nonstop dance music fromDJ Jive in the Miller Lite Beer Garden. Live Thoroughbred racing serves as the backdrop while the glitterati mingle with the railbirds at a social event that could happen only in New Orleans and only at Fair Grounds. A St. Patrick’s Day theme will prevail so plan to wear some green and maybe even win some green. First post 5 p.m. Grandstand General Admission, $5; Clubhouse and Miller Lite Beer Garden General Admission, $10.
March 17 – New Orleans Ladies Day
Horse of the Year Havre de Grace is likely to make her 2012 debut in the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies, the meet’s top event for older fillies and mares. Havre de Grace would become only the third reigning Horse of the Year to race in New Orleans, along with legends Whirlaway, winner of the 1942 Louisiana Handicap, and Rachel Alexandra, second in the inaugural New Orleans Ladies in 2010. First post 12:40 p.m. Grandstand General Admission, FREE; Clubhouse General Admission, $7.
March 20 – Crawfish Boil for E.J. Perrodin
The annual dark-day crawfish boil in the paddock will feature mountains of mudbugs, as well as corn, potatoes and beer. Festivities also include the Jockey Crawfish-Eating Contest and silent and live auctions. Proceeds from this year’s feast will benefit the family of retired jockey E.J. Perrodin, who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. A Louisiana native, Perrodin, 55, won 3,083 races, including 210 stakes, in a career that spanned more than 35 years. At Fair Grounds, “Tee Joe” rode 57 stakes winners, topped by the 1983 Grade II New Orleans Handicap on Listcapade and an 84-1 upset in the 2003 Grade II Explosive Bid Handicap aboard Candid Glen. Tickets are $25 and include a generous helping of crawfish. Contact Sandra Salmen for more information at (504) 948-1150 or Sandra.Salmen@fgno.com.
March 25 – Family Fun Day
Bring the kids for an unforgettable afternoon at the races with a petting zoo, inflatable bounce houses, rock wall climbing, face painting and more. The party goes from 1-4 p.m., and from 1-3 p.m., mascotGentilly Billy hosts his second birthday party with free cupcakes (first 200 guests). Special food offerings include $1 hot dogs, $1 jambalaya and $1 sodas, plus cotton candy and popcorn by Messina’s Catering. First post is 12:40 p.m. Grandstand General Admission, FREE; Family Fun Day Admission, $5 (Children three and under are free).
March 30 – Starlight Racing with Groovy 7
On the eve of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four, the final Starlight Racing of the season features a college sports theme and fans are encouraged to dress in the colors of their favorite school. Party music will be pumping courtesy of Groovy 7 in the Clubhouse and DJ Kemistry in the Miller Lite Beer Garden. First post 5 p.m. Grandstand General Admission, $5; Clubhouse and Miller Lite Beer Garden General Admission, $10.
March 31 – Fair Grounds Oaks Day
Top 3-year-old fillies meet in the Grade II, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, a race that has proven to be the nation’s top final prep for the Grade I Kentucky Oaks. Overall the day features four stakes for fillies and mares and also includes the $100,000 Bayou Handicap, the season’s top event for older turf females. First post 12:10 p.m. Grandstand General Admission, $5; Clubhouse and Miller Lite Beer Garden General Admission, $10.
April 1 – Louisiana Derby Day/Fillies, Fashion & Fizz/Closing Day
The meet ends on an unprecedented high note as the $1 million Louisiana Derby for top 3-year-olds pointing to the Kentucky Derby is positioned on Closing Day for the first time ever. Fair Grounds’ signature race tops an unprecedented racing extravaganza with seven stakes overall, including three Grade II events, cumulatively worth more than $2.1 million in purse money. Fillies, Fashion & Fizz – the upscale Louisiana Derby Day party – takes over the Miller Lite Beer Garden for a decadent afternoon of champagne, desserts, hat contests, fashion shows and more. First post 12:10 p.m. Grandstand General Admission, $5; Clubhouse or Fillies, Fashion & Fizz General Admission, $10.