Inaugural FG Quarter Horse Meet Opens Wednesday
NEW ORLEANS, La (August 19, 2008) - A new rite of summer begins Wednesday with the opening of the inaugural Quarter Horse meet at Fair Grounds.
The five-day meet runs through Sunday. Ten races are carded for each day, with first post at 3 p.m. CDT.
While Fair Grounds has hosted Quarter Horse racing in the past as part of its winter Thoroughbred season, this will be the first stand-alone meet for a breed that specializes in sprinting.
Response from horsemen to the week-long meet was outstanding. On opening day, for instance, the maximum 98 horses were entered, with dozens more excluded. Full fields will be the norm throughout the meet.
Many of the nation's top trainers and jockeys will converge on New Orleans this week.
The jockey colony is topped by Alfonso Lujan, who won the riding title at Delta and ranks first nationally in wins and second in earnings this year. John Hamilton, Gilbert Ortiz, Danny Lavergne and Orlando Baldillez rank fifth through eighth, respectively, on the national wins list.
Top trainers include Heath Taylor and Janet Van Bebber, who tied for the training title at Delta. Taylor ranks second nationally in both wins and earnings, while Van Bebber is fourth in wins and 10th in earnings.
The opening-day feature is the City Park Stakes for 2-year-old Louisiana-breds at 330 yards. William L. Young's Bjs Dasher, coming off a fifth-place finish in the $512,000 Lee Berwick Futurity last month at Delta, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the field of 10, which includes a coupled entry.
Alvin "Bubba" Brossette, a retired jockey who was no stranger to the Fair Grounds winner's circle on Louisiana Champions Day each December, trains Bjs Dasher. Hamilton will ride.
Two other starters in the Lee Berwick, Star Ryons Load and Morgans Wonder, are the second and third morning-line choices, respectively, in the City Park.
On-track patrons will enjoy $1 food and beverage specials during live racing. On Saturday, a card which features three stakes, a handicapping seminar will be held at 2 p.m. with Darrell Hare of the American Quarter Horse Association and Tony Patterson of the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association. Also Saturday, country band Avery Michaels and Exit 209 will perform on the third floor of the grandstand from 5-9 p.m.
Additionally, a $25 buffet will be offered each race day on the second floor of the slots facility.
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation's third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility, 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 nine off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. Fair Grounds' 137th Thoroughbred season will run from Nov. 14, 2008, through March 29, 2009, and will be preceded by its inaugural Quarter Horse meet from Aug. 20-24, 2008. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.