Louisiana Derby Week, March 21-27, Packed With Events

A charity golf tournament to benefit backstretch workers, the annual Bill Hartack Charitable Foundation reception honoring the previous year’s Kentucky Derby-winning jockey, and a rich Fair Grounds Oaks Day program are among a packed week’s worth of special events leading up to the 97th Louisiana Derby on March 27 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Confirmed details for all Louisiana Derby week events are below.

Sunday, March 21—Live Racing at Fair Grounds
First post is 12:40 p.m. CDT.

Monday, March 22—Louisiana Derby Post Position Draw (private event)
Members of the media and connections of the contenders are invited to a special lunch featuring the Louisiana Derby Post Position Draw. Representatives of the Fair Grounds racing office, including Racing Secretary Jason Boulet, will draw numbered pills to determine which starting gate position each Louisiana Derby entrant will break from. Fair Grounds track announcer John Dooley will emcee the ceremony while analyst Jessica Pacheco interviews participants. A Red Beans & Rice lunch will be served. Lunch is at 11 a.m. in Fair Grounds’ Black Gold Room with the draw set for 11:30 a.m. For information on attending or covering this event, please contact Jim Mulvihill, Fair Grounds Communications & Pari-Mutuel Marketing Manager.

Monday, March 22—Live Racing at Fair Grounds
First post is 1:10 p.m. CDT.

Wednesday, March 24—Louisiana Derby Charity Golf Tournament to Benefit Backstretch Workers
After a resounding inaugural success, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots presents the second annual Louisiana Derby Charity Golf Tournament to benefit backstretch workers. City Park Golf Course, just minutes from Fair Grounds, will host this year’s competition and will feature contests including Beat the Jockey, Longest Drive and Closest to the Pin, plus a goodie bag with a golf shirt, golf balls and more. Also, look for several Par 3 Hole-in-One Contests throughout the course, including one with a top prize of $50,000! Registration is $100 per person. Foursomes and sponsorships are also available. Access a registration form and more information online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.

Thursday, March 25—Bill Hartack Charitable Foundation Reception & Award Ceremony
Louisiana-born jockey Calvin Borel, winner of last year’s Kentucky Derby aboard Mine That Bird as well as the 2007 Derby on Street Sense, will be the guest of honor at the 2010 Bill Hartack Charitable Foundation Reception & Award Ceremony. The event is co-hosted by Fair Grounds and will take place from 7-9 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Fair Grounds Clubhouse. Tickets are $100 per person and tables of eight are available for $1,200. More information can be found online at www.BillHartackFoundation.com.

Friday, March 26—2010 American Cancer Society Relay for Life Kickoff
The American Cancer Society is calling on all cancer survivors to don their favorite purple fashions and “help lead the fight back” with a special Kickoff to the 2010 Relay for Life Season on Fair Grounds Oaks Day. A Survivor Parade highlights an afternoon that also includes a Clubhouse reception with hor d’oeuvres and birthday cake. The fun begins in the Fair Grounds Clubhouse at noon. For more information on enjoying Oaks Day with the American Cancer Society call (504) 219-2296 or visit www.RelayForLife.org/NewOrleans.

Friday, March 26—Live Racing at Fair Grounds—Fair Grounds Oaks Day
For the first time, the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks for top 3-year-old fillies will be featured on its own special afternoon with four stakes races restricted to females. The premier prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, four of the last five winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks have gone on to win on the first Friday in May (or the last Friday in April, as is sometimes the case): Rachel Alexandra, Proud Spell, Summerly and Ashado. Other stakes on the card will be the Bayou Handicap for older females on turf; the Bienville Stakes for female turf sprinters; and the Crescent City Oaks for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies. First post is 1:10 p.m. CDT.

Friday, March 26—Louisiana Derby Eve Party (private event—by invitation only)
Fair Grounds hosts the annual Louisiana Derby Eve Party from 6-8 p.m. in the Black Gold Room. The guest list includes owners and trainers of all weekend stakes entrants, as well as media and racing officials. Hors d’oeuvres will be served, along with a special Louisiana Derby cocktail.

Saturday, March 27—Live Racing at Fair Grounds—Louisiana Derby Day
It’s the season’s biggest day of racing with six stakes, including three Grade II events, on a program worth more than $2 million in purses. Moved to a new spot on the calendar five weeks before the Kentucky Derby, this year’s 97th running of Fair Grounds’ signature event, the Grade II Louisiana Derby, will be more important than ever as a prep for the world’s most famous horse race. Several of the nation’s top 3-year-olds will descend on the Crescent City to find out if they have the talent to move on to the Run for the Roses while competing for the winner’s share of a $750,000 purse. The five other stakes that help make up an exceptional afternoon of racing are the Grade II New Orleans Handicap for premier older horses on the main track and the Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Memorial Handicap for premier older horses on turf, as well as the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes for top sprinters, the Grindstone Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf, and the Crescent City Derby for 3-year-old Louisiana-breds. First post for a 13-race card is a half-hour earlier than usual, at 12:10 p.m. CDT.

Sunday, March 28—Live Racing at Fair Grounds—Closing Day
The final day of live racing action for the 138th Thoroughbred Racing Season Presented by Miller Lite. First post is 12:40 p.m. CDT.