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Rachel Alexandra Halter Up for Bids

Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra had her first recorded work of the 2010 racing season at Fair Grounds Sunday morning, but beginning Friday a special commemorative stable halter once worn by the magnificent filly will go on display in Fair Grounds clubhouse.

The halter, encased in a handsome shadow box, includes the signatures of trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Calvin Borel as part of the display, and has already become the subject of a silent auction to kick off a barn-raising fundraiser for the Remember Me Racehorse Rescue facility operated by Fair Grounds-based trainer Dallas Keen and his wife Donna.

“We are deeply indebted to Steve and Mr. (Jess) Jackson for supporting Remember Me Racehorse Rescue by donating Rachel Alexandra’s halter to help support retired racehorses,” said Donna Keen Sunday at Fair Grounds as her husband saddled Playbill Missile in the fourth race of the day. “We want to thank them for their gesture.”

Remember Me Rescue placed 36 retired racehorses in new homes in 2009, some of which were rescued from slaughter by the couple, but new horses are coming in constantly.

“We have to put forth a huge fundraising effort to build a new barn,” explained Donna Keen on Remember Me Rescue’s website, teamkeen.com. “I refuse to stop taking in new horses, so the fundraising begins.”

On March 20, the silent auction for Rachel Alexandra’s halter and shadow box will end, and the top two bidders will be asked to participate in a live auction at Fair Grounds on March 26 when the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks will be run. For information on submitting a bid, visit teamkeen.com.

Rachel Alexandra won last season’s Fair Grounds Oaks on her way to Horse of the Year honors, and became the fourth of the last five Fair Grounds Oaks winners to go on and win the Kentucky Oaks later in the spring.

Mike Dilberto Reports on ‘Buddy D’s Dress Parade’
Mike Diliberto is the morning line maker at Fair Grounds Race Course and for years has been a high profile presence in the Crescent City, but his late father “Buddy D” was a local sports legend as a newspaper, television and radio personality, and that legend lived on as magnanimously as a Mardi Gras parade Sunday afternoon in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Buddy Diliberto, who has a Fair Grounds stakes race named in his memory and whose picture hangs on the wall of the Fair Grounds Press Box Hall of Fame, once pledged to his legion of fans that if the New Orleans Saints ever went to the Super Bowl, he would parade through downtown New Orleans wearing a dress.

Sadly, ‘Buddy D’ died in 2005 before his beloved Saints reached the Super Bowl, but on Sunday, his mostly male fans took it up themselves to fulfill his pledge and marched downtown clad in dresses to celebrate their Saints while getting in touch with their feminine side.

“I couldn’t go,” said Mike Diliberto Monday morning at Fair Grounds while clocking horses during training hours. “I had to do the line, and I’ve been fighting a cold, but my brother, my sister and my son all went.

“My sister (Debbie Diliberto) told me there were maybe 2,000 people marching in the parade, and another 8,000 or so lined up along the streets to watch it,” Diliberto said. “She told me all the people got to chanting, ‘Buddy D!, Buddy D!’ in rhythm and when they started doing that it brought tears to her eyes. My son told me he had tears in his eyes, too. My Daddy would have really been enjoying all this.”

Video footage, photos and written coverage of Sunday’s “Buddy D. Dress Parade” is currently available on The Times-Picayune website, nola.com.

Early Post Time Super Bowl Sunday
Fair Grounds’ faithful fans are reminded that because their beloved New Orleans Saints are in the Super Bowl, the local oval will have a special early first post time of 11:30 a.m. CST this Sunday.

The nine race program will end at about 3:30 p.m. CST.