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143rd Thoroughbred Racing Season Meet Preview

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, generally accepted to be the third-oldest racetrack in the country, will kick off its 143rd season of thoroughbred racing on Friday, November 21 with Starlight Racing.


The 81-day live meet includes 47 stakes worth $5.73 million, headlined by Louisiana Derby Day on March 28. Closing Day is March 29.

Opening Weekend

Opening Day,
presented for the fourth time by East Jefferson General Hospital, the Official Healthcare Provider of the Fair Grounds, will feature Starlight Racing presented by Miller Lite & Blue Moon on November 21. The first two Starlight Racing events (November 21 and December 26) will feature a cosmic twist with the Miller Lite White Out Party in the Starlight tent, replete with glowing drinks, blinking accessories, the popular jockette dancers, and neon body painters allowing racing fans to customize their appearance under the black lights. Plus, the first 200 guests to enter the tent will receive a free t-shirt compliments of Miller Lite. Audio and visuals will be provided by Royal Productions, the Official Audio and Video partner of Starlight Racing as well as Entercom, the Starlight Racing Radio Partner. Live music will be provided in the clubhouse by The Boogie Men along with DJ Kemistry providing music for the White Out Party. Local fare from fan favorites Crepes a la carte and Bratz Y’all along with special drink selections will be available.

Clubhouse admission and access to the Miller Time Beer Garden is $10, and guests must be 21 years old to enter. Grandstand general admission is $5, and children under age 12 are admitted free.First post is 5 p.m. and live racing continues through Sunday with post times of 1:25 p.m.

Thanksgiving Day

Formerly set on the calendar as opening day, Thanksgiving Day (November 27) will again bring back the popular local tradition of live thoroughbred racing on the fall holiday highlighted by the 89th running of the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap, a six-furlong test for top sprinters.

Thanksgiving Day Clubhouse dining reservations start at $70 per person – at tables of four or six only – and go up to $125 per person, depending on the row and vantage point. Reservations include a meal consisting of traditional Thanksgiving fare. Additional Thanksgiving dining options include the Black Gold Room for $80 per person and the Pan Zareta buffet priced at $34 for adults and $12 for children. Reservations can be made by calling (504) 943-2200 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m or on any live racing day. Full Thanksgiving menus are available at www.fgno.com. There will be a special early first post on Thanksgiving of 11 a.m.


Major Stakes Days

The majority of the Fair Grounds stakes schedule takes place on four banner days. Louisiana Champions Day presented by Acadian Ambulance, the official EMS/EMT provider of the Fair Grounds, on December 13 is comprised of 11 stakes worth $1.1 million for Louisiana-breds.

Over the course of the meet, Fair Grounds presents 10 graded stakes races in multiple divisions beginning on January 17 with Road to the Derby Kickoff Day presented by Hotel Monteleone, the Official Hotel of the Fair Grounds.Comprised of five stakes worth $560,000, Road to the Derby Kickoff Day is highlighted by the 71st running of the $200,000 Grade III Lecomte Stakes. The Lecomte is the first of three graded races at Fair Grounds for 3-year olds that offer qualifying points toward the Grade I Kentucky Derby to be run at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. The Lecomte offers 10 qualifying points to the winner, along with four points for second, two points for third, and one point for the fourth-place finisher.

The $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes for 3-year old fillies hoping to race their way to the Grade I Kentucky Oaks  at Churchill Downs will offer qualifying points for the Oaks on an identical 10-4-2-1 scale as the Lecomte. The 29th running of the $100,000 Grade III Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap for older turf horses will also be run on Kickoff day along with the $75,000 Louisiana Handicap for older horses on the main track and the $60,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap for older fillies and mares on the turf.

Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Lamarque Ford, the Official Automotive Partner of the Fair Grounds, consists of six stakes worth $945,000 on February 21 and is highlighted by a pair of graded stakes offering qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.

The $400,000 Grade II Risen Star Stakes, the second of three local preps for Kentucky Derby hopefuls, offers a reward of 50-20-10-5 points towards the Kentucky Derby to the top four finishers. The same 50-20-10-5 bonus will be available towards the Kentucky Oaks in the $175,000 Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes for 3-year old fillies.

The $125,000 Grade III Mineshaft Handicap for older horses on the main track, the $125,000 Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap for older horses on the turf, the $60,000 Bayou Handicap  for older fillies and mares on the turf, and the $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes for older sprinters round out the stakes offerings on Louisiana Derby Preview Day.

Louisiana Derby Day on closing weekend brings down the curtain on the season’s stakes program with eight stakes worth $2.12 million, highlighted by Fair Grounds’ marquee event, the 102nd running of the $750,000 Grade II Louisiana Derby. The final local chance to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, the Louisiana Derby offers 100 qualifying points to the winner, 40 points to second, 20 points to third, and 10 points to the fourth-place finisher. For the second year in a row, the 2014 Louisiana Derby produced the second-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, when Commanding Curve ran second to California Chrome.

The $400,000 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks once again produced the Kentucky Oaks winner in 2014 when Untapable scored an easy victory in that race, continuing the long string of successes by fillies who have won the Fair Grounds Oaks in that Kentucky centerpiece. Six of the last ten Fair Grounds Oaks winners have captured the Kentucky Oaks in their next start. The Fair Grounds Oaks offers a 100-40-20-10 slate of Kentucky Oaks qualifying points.

Other stakes offered on Louisiana Derby Day include: the $400,000 Grade II New Orleans Handicap for older horses on the dirt, the $300,000 Grade II Mervin H. Muniz, Jr. Memorial Handicap for older horses

on the turf, the $75,000 Crescent City Derby for Louisiana-bred sophomores on the dirt, the $75,000 Crescent
City Oaks
for Louisiana-bred 3-year old fillies on the main track, the $60,000 Star Guitar Stakes for older Louisiana-breds on the dirt, and the $60,000 Costa Rising Stakes for 3-and-up Louisiana-breds dashing on the turf.

The remainder of the stakes schedule can be found at http://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/horsemen.

Jockeys

Four-time reigning Fair Grounds riding champion Rosie Napravnik announced her retirement after guiding Fair Grounds Oaks winner Untapable to a win in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Napravnik had amassed 460 wins in New Orleans over the last four years. Her nearest challenger in recent years, James Graham, will return in an attempt to take down the riding title in Napravnik’s absence. Other returning riders include Richard Eramia, a top-six jockey in New Orleans for the last several years, Robby Albarado, a seven-time Fair Grounds riding champion who recently tallied his 1,000th career Churchill Downs win, Florent Geroux, who will spend his second winter in New Orleans fresh off a win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, as well as local favorites Brian Hernandez, Jr., Kerwin Clark, and Miguel Mena.

Trainers

Steve Asmussen,
a 13-time Fair Grounds training champion will again return to the Crescent City off a season in which he notched 60 victories, easily clearing runner-up Tom Amoss, with whom he tied for the title in the 2012-2013 racing season. Amoss returns with another large string and joins returning standouts such as Al Stall, Jr., Bret Calhoun, Karl Broberg, Mike Stidham, Mike Maker, Wayne Catalano, Eddie Johnston and Larry Jones. Former Maker assistant Joe Sharp, who started his own training career this fall, will also have stalls assigned on the Fair Grounds backstretch.

Starlight Racing

Starlight Racing
presented by Miller Lite & Blue Moon returns as the “see and be seen event” of the New Orleans racing season. With racing under the lights and various entertainment options throughout the facility, Starlight Racing helps expose new fans to thoroughbred racing in a unique race-going experience.

Starlight racing will have a first post of 5 p.m. and will be conducted once a month throughout the racing season on November 21, December 26, January 16, February 27, and March 20. General admission for Starlight Racing is $5, and access to the clubhouse and the Miller Time Beer Garden (guests must be 21 years old to enter) are available for $10.

For a limited time, fans can purchase a Starlight Party Pass for $50 that provides clubhouse admission for all five Starlight events along with a free drink in the Miller Time Beer Garden each month. The Starlight Party Pass can be purchased at http://bit.ly/StarlightPartyPass.

Fair Grounds’ community involvement program, Starlight-Starbright, returns and offers groups the ability to raise money for the charity of their choice or for their own organization’s charitable aims. Information on last year’s successes with the Starlight-Starbright program can be found at: http://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/news/archives/2014/02/20/news-release-starlight-starbright-provides-fast-benefits

Following approval and registration with the Fair Grounds, organizations may pre-sell or direct their

membership and supporters to purchase tickets to the designated Starlight racing event through the Fair Grounds online ticketing system, www.fgno.com/tickets.  Based on surpassing the minimum of 25 pre-sold

tickets per date, the organization then receives 50% of the admission cost ($5.00 per person) back in a rebate. 

Proud Partners


PJ’s will serve as The Official Coffee and Tea of Fair Grounds. Customers can enjoy PJ’s beverages every racing day from the Sweet Shop located on the first floor of the Grandstand. The Absolut & Jameson Tenacious Bar will feature signature cocktails from the Pernod-Ricard portfolio in the clubhouse. Pernod-Ricard is also The Official Spirits Partner of Starlight Racing.  While dining in the Clubhouse, guests are encouraged to review the robust wine list created in part with Official Wine Partner,Constellation Wines, featuring Clos du Bois. Coca-Cola will serve as the Official Soft Drink Partner of the Fair Grounds as well as the presenting partner of Holiday Family Day on December 20.

Fair Grounds is pleased to welcome returning partners: Allen Berger & Associates, the Official Legal Partner of the Fair Grounds; Lee Tractor, the Official Tractor Partner of the Fair Grounds; Richards Disposal, the Official Sanitation Partner of the Fair Grounds; and Guillot’s, the Official Sanitary Supply Partner of the Fair Grounds.


Double M Feed will serve as the presenting partner of Jack Russell Racing and Wiener Dog Racing in the first ever Bark Week at Fair Grounds, and Brittlyn Stables as the presenting partner of the Star Guitar Bar located on the west side of the paddock.

Fair Grounds is happy to welcome seasonal partners Lakeview Harbor and The William Credo Agency.


DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship Qualifier

Fair Grounds will host a DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship qualifier on-track on December 20. The entry fee will be $200 (plus a $50 NHC Tour Registration fee for players who are not already members), and will be limited to three entries per player. The top two finishers will receive paid berths into the $2 million DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship at Treasure Island in Las Vegas, January 23-25, 2015.

More information, including full contest details and official rules, can be found at: http://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/content/fair-grounds-host-drfntra-national-handicapping-championship-qualifier.


Weekly Promotions

Fair Grounds is pleased to announce the introduction of three new food and beverage promotions during the 143rd thoroughbred racing season.

Throwback Thursdays start December 4 and continue every Thursday through the end of the meet. Throwback Thursdays will give fans the opportunity to purchase $2 Miller Lite cans and $2 hot dogs at all concession stands excluding the Gentilly Grill and the Desaix Deli.

Weekend Wine’d Up will be held every Friday beginning December 5, with the exception of Starlight Racing Fridays, and will feature select $4 glasses of wine from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Weekend Wine’d Up is available in the clubhouse and at the Tenacious Bar.

Spirited Sundays featuring $4 Absolut Martinis and Bloody Marys begins November 23 and is available at the Tenacious Bar and all walk-up bar locations.

Twinspires.com Promotions

In conjunction with Twinspires.com, Fair Grounds will be offering bonus points for key plays on Fair Grounds races made through Twinspires.com.

Opening weekend will offer players the opportunity to be part of the $10,000 Double Bonus from Twinspires.com. Fair Grounds will offer 26 rolling Daily Double pools opening weekend, and for every five Daily Double wagers players cash, they will earn one share of the $10,000 bonus prize. Players may earn additional shares by cashing multiple Daily Doubles (Cash 10 Daily Doubles, earn 2 shares; Cash 15 Daily Doubles, earn 3 shares), and the $10,000 pool will be split among all eligible shares earned by players. More information can be found at: http://www.twinspires.com/fair-grounds-opening-week-10000-double-bonus.

Thanksgiving Week Points-a-Plenty will allow players to double or triple their points for the entire day over Thanksgiving weekend by hitting either the early double to double points, or hitting both the early double and the early Pick-3 to triple their points. Additional Twinspires.com wagering promotions will occur throughout the season.

Post Times and Admission

Daily post time will be 1:25 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Special days with different post times are as follows:

Starlight Racing conducted on Opening Day November 21, December 26, January 16, February 27, and March 20: First post 5 p.m

Thanksgiving Day (November 27): First post 11 a.m.

Premier Race Days (Louisiana Champions Day, Dec. 13; Santa Super Saturday & Holiday Family Day, Dec. 20; The first Sunday in February, Feb. 1; Mardi Gras Day, Feb. 17): First post 12 p.m.

Major Stakes Days (Road to the Derby Kickoff Day, Jan. 17; Louisiana Derby Preview Day, Feb. 21; Louisiana Derby Day, Mar. 28): First post 12:30 p.m.

On regular race days, grandstand general admission is free and clubhouse admission is $10.00. Starlight Racing, selected major stakes days, and special novelty programming days will have a $5.00 general grandstand admission and a $10.00 clubhouse admission. (Clubhouse admission on Starlight Racing Fridays also provides access to the Miller Time Beer Garden). Louisiana Derby Day admission is TBD.

Reservations

Clubhouse and grandstand boxes can be reserved at this time for all racing days with the exception of Louisiana Derby Day (opens January 5) by calling (504) 943-2200