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Numbers Off On Rainy Louisiana Derby Day
NEW ORLEANS, La (March 14, 2009) – Though rain put a damper on Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Day presented by Budweiser at Fair Grounds, that didn’t stop some outstanding performances on the racetrack.
The all-sources handle for Saturday’s 12-race program of $11,120,353 was 14.2 percent down from last year’s record handle of $12,962,024 on Louisiana Derby Day. Saturday’s handle ranks third in Fair Grounds history.
Despite the weather, an on-track crowd of 7,674 was the second-largest to witness Louisiana Derby Day in the 12-year history of Fair Grounds’ current facility. While the number was 23 percent below last year’s record crowd of 9,971, it was 21 percent above the 2007 crowd of 6,321.
On-track handle was $897,528, 12.6 percent off of last year’s modern-era record of $1,027,467 but within 1 percent of the 2007 Louisiana Derby Day on-track handle of $901,941.
“In spite of the weather conditions, we put on a spectacular event for the people of New Orleans and racing fans across the country, and they supported Fair Grounds once again,” said Fair Grounds president Austin Miller.
On the track, Friesan Fire captured the 96th running of the $600,000 Grade II Louisiana Derby, the richest Kentucky Derby prep to date this season. Friesan Fire was ridden by Gabriel Saez for trainer Larry Jones.
Three other Grade II stakes were part of Saturday’s supporting card. Odds-on favorite Rachel Alexandra captured the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, Macho Again took the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap and Proudinsky won the $500,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap on the turf for the second consecutive year.
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 its inaugural Quarter Horse meet was conducted from Aug. 20-24, 2008. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.