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Defending QH Training Champ Roberts Poised for Another Big Meet

Last year’s champion trainer Kenny Roberts appears a safe bet to defend that title at the 2011 Summer Quarter Horse Meet Presented by Budweiser, opening Wednesday. The 59-year-old (b. Feb. 15, 1952) horseman has the largest string of anyone on the grounds with 36 stalls, most of which have been occupied since shortly after the track opened for training last week. Roberts said that while many of his peers prefer to ship after they enter and see which of their horses will start, he enjoys a distinct advantage from settling in early and working over the surface.

“There are some exceptions with very good horses that you can haul anywhere and they’ll run,” Roberts said. “But with the majority of them it’s better if they get a chance to adjust.”

Showing up early has proven successful for Roberts, who has established himself as Fair Grounds’ all-time leading Quarter Horse trainer after three summer meets. He finished second the first two years, but ran away with the title when the meet was expanded to 10 days last season. The 2011 stand is up to 12 days of racing and no other trainer seems to have the firepower to compete with Roberts over three weeks.

On Wedneday’s 10-race Opening Day card, Roberts has entrants in three races, including Bang Bang Bang in the featured $40,000 Treme Stakes for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds.

“I think she’ll run a good race,” Roberts said of the Lock to Load filly. “She ran a few good races last year. Nothing super, but she’s real consistent.”

Bang Bang Bang beat winners for the first time at Fair Grounds last season but finished sixth with no excuse when she returned to New Orleans for a try in December’s Grade 2 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile, one of three prestigious Quarter Horse stakes run during the Thoroughbred season.

On paper Bang Bang Bang looks to have her work cut out for her in the Treme – she’s the longest shot in the field at 15-1 on the morning line produced by Fair Grounds oddsmaker Mike Diliberto – but fans of Fair Grounds know by now that every Roberts horse is a live one.

The Summer Quarter Horse Meet continues Wednesdays to Saturdays through Sept. 24. First post is 12:40 p.m. CDT daily. General admission is free during the Summer Quarter Horse meet and specials include $1.75 Budweiser drafts and $1.75 hamburgers every live racing day. 

Additional Trucks, Vendors Confirmed for Street Fare Derby

Fair Grounds announced today the addition of several new vendors to the lineup for the Sept. 24 Street Fare Derby Presented by Budweiser, the city’s first major gathering of food trucks and other mobile food options. Confirmed participants include: The Big Cheesy; Fork in the Road; Fresh Junkie; The Fry Bar; Lola Deux; Melt Down; Mrs. Linda the Yakamein Lady; Peace, Love and Snoballs; and Streats McGee.

The inaugural Street Fare Derby, organized by NOLAfoodtrucks.com and Fair Grounds, will celebrate the culture of street food, food trucks, and beyond. 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 open to the public at 12:30 p.m. and 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.

2011 Summer Quarter Horse Meet Presented by Budweiser At a Glance

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

First post 12:40 p.m. daily

Free Grandstand general admission

Specials: $1.75 Budweiser drafts, $1.75 hamburgers daily

More info: (504) 944-5515 or FairGroundsRaceCourse.com