Fair Grounds to Host Bank of America Challenge Championships November 19

The fastest horses in the world will meet in New Orleans for the first time when Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots hosts the Bank of America Challenge Championships with four Grade I races for American Quarter Horses on November 19. The Friday night program will feature 13 stakes races in all, with purses worth more than $1.1 million.

The Bank of America Challenge Championships represent Quarter Horse racing’s closest equivalent to Thoroughbred racing’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Entrants for the six Challenge Championship races and six additional stakes are required to qualify in regional finals at the premier Quarter Horse meets throughout North America.

“Bringing the Challenge Championships to New Orleans took a lot of hard work and cooperation between the track, the American Quarter Horse Association, our local horsemen and the Louisiana State Racing Commission,” said track vice president and general manager Eric Halstrom. “Fair Grounds is honored to play host to this historic night of racing and we are eager to create a first-class experience for everyone involved, from our loyal fans to the visiting owners and trainers.”

In addition to the Challenge Championships, the AQHA will host its annual Racing Conference in New Orleans, with Fair Grounds serving as the primary venue, Nov. 17-20.

The Challenge Championships also will mark the return of Starlight Racing, the upscale night racing experience with live music, DJs and drink specials. The initial Starlight Racing series during the most recent Thoroughbred season grew into one of the city’s premier social events, with thousands of well-heeled partygoers making Fair Grounds the place to “see and be seen” on those Friday nights.

Winners of more than 60 major stakes races throughout the year qualify for the Challenge Championships in their respective divisions. Those races are held at leading Quarter Horse tracks such as Los Alamitos (Southern California), Ruidoso Downs (Ruidoso, N.M.), Delta Downs (Vinton, La.), Lone Star Park (Grand Prairie, Texas), Sam Houston Race Park (Houston), Remington Park (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and Sunland Park (Sunland Park, New Mexico).

The Challenge Championships will be held six days prior to Opening Day of the 2010-2011 Thoroughbred Racing Season on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25.

Challenge Championship Races

Bank of America Racing Challenge Championship (G1)
$350,000 Guaranteed, 3-Year-Olds & Older, 440 yards

Adequan Racing Challenge Derby Championship (G1)
$200,000 Guaranteed, 3-Year-Olds, 400 yards

John Deere Racing Challenge Juvenile Championship (G2)
$150,000 Guaranteed, 2-Year-Olds, 350 yards

Merial Racing Challenge Distaff Championship (G1)
$125,000 Guaranteed, Fillies & Mares, 3-Year-Olds & Older, 400 yards

Red Cell Distance Championship (G1)
$125,000 Guaranteed, 3-Year-Olds & Older, 870 yards

Pfizer Starter Allowance Championship
$75,000 Guaranteed, 3-Year-Olds & Older, 350 yards

Undercard Stakes

Farnam Stakes
$25,000 Guaranteed, 3-Year-Olds & Older, 440 yards

John Deere Stakes
$25,000 Guaranteed, 3-Year-Olds, 400 yards

Nutrena Starter Allowance
$25,000 Guaranteed, 3-Year-Olds & Older who have started for a claiming price of $5,000 or less, 350 yards

Q-Racing Stakes
$25,000 Guaranteed, 2-Year-Olds, 350 yards

Los Alamitos Stakes
$25,000 Guaranteed, 3-Year-Olds & Older, 870 yards

AQHA Members Plus Stakes
$25,000 Guaranteed, Fillies and Mares, 3-Year-Olds & Older, 400 yards

Louisiana-bred stakes race
Race name, conditions and distance to be announced

About the Bank of America Racing Challenge
The Bank of America Racing Challenge is the richest and most successful program in American Quarter Horse racing today – a championship series developed for the “World’s Fastest Horse.” The Bank of America Racing Challenge program provides more racing opportunities and bigger purses for older American Quarter Horses than any other program throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America. During the 2010 racing season there are a total of 61 regional Challenge finals, approximately 30 John Deere Bonus Challenge races plus several Challenge Maiden Finals. The Racing Challenge will culminate with the 6 Challenge Championship races and 6 undercard Challenge Stakes races with total purses and bonuses topping five million dollars.

About the American Quarter Horse Association
The American Quarter Horse Association is the world’s largest single-breed equine registry and membership organization, with more than 5 million American Quarter Horses registered worldwide and AQHA membership numbering more than 300,000. AQHA’s mission is to record and preserve the pedigrees of the American Quarter Horse while maintaining the integrity of the breed and to provide beneficial services for its members which enhance and encourage American Quarter Horse ownership and participation.

About Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 58 million consumer and small business relationships with more than 5,900 retail banking offices, more than 18,000 ATMs and award-winning online banking with nearly 30 million active users. Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. The company serves clients in more than 150 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation’s third-oldest racetrack, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 10 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. Fair Grounds will host its third annual Quarter Horse Season Sept. 14-25 as well as Quarter Horse racing’s richest event, the Bank of America Challenge Championships, Nov. 19. The 139th Thoroughbred Racing Season will run Nov. 25, 2010-March 27, 2011, highlighted by the 98th Grade II Louisiana Derby on March 26.

For more information, visit the Bank of America Racing Challenge page at AQHA.com.