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Starlight Racing Friday to Encourage "Field of Dreamers"

Highlighting Friday’s second of three “Starlight Racing” programs to be held in New Orleans this winter will be the introduction of Fair Grounds’ new “Bet or No Bet” game.

As the latest added attraction of the local nighttime racing experience designed to attract young professionals who have never been to the track as well as New Orleanians who are merely casual sports fans, “Bet or No Bet” will allow those racing neophytes the opportunity to bet $500 on one horse with Fair Grounds’ money – or not bet and walk away with $100 cash.

Those in attendance for Friday evening’s nine-race card that has a first post time of 5 p.m. will receive an entry blank that is printed in their racing program, and those that fill it out and drop it in a collection box prior to the Friday’s fourth race become eligible for selections as one of four that will be drawn to play the “Bet or No Bet” game.

Those four names selected will have the option to bet $500 on a single horse of their choosing in races six through nine – courtesy of Fair Grounds – or decline to bet and simply walk away with a $100 cash prize. The game, of course, is just one enticement available for all guests at the evening’s two entertainment venues.  Those consist of a high-energy club atmosphere in the heated Miller Beer Garden chalet and patio with track view along the rail, and also a more sophisticated vibe in the Clubhouse with lounge seating and live music by the Bucktown Allstars.

Guests new to Thoroughbred racing in attendance Friday night need not be intimidated by a lack of equine handicapping knowledge, because “hunch bets” on horses with names that might be personally appealing to each guest have had a way of winning this winter in New Orleans.

During Fair Grounds’ initial “Starlight Racing” program Jan. 15, a horse named Pick and Pray won and paid a $5.60 win price based on a $2 bet.

On Super Bowl Sunday, hours before the New Orleans Saints won Super Bowl XLIV, a colt named Successful Mission won for an $8.80 price.

Last Sunday on Valentine’s Day, a filly named Rosy Day captured the sixth race (as well as the hearts of those who bet on her) when she returned $14.60 to win based on a $2 wager.

With all that in mind, in this Friday’s first race, a filly named Dream Date Diva is entered as an enticement to those couples who might be enjoying their first date at Fair Grounds, while in the fifth event, a filly named Let’s Dream Again is named as a runner.

Finally, for the benefit of those casual sports fans who might already know that Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, stabled at Fair Grounds all winter and currently training up to the New Orleans Ladies on March 13 for her first start this season, it should be noted that there is an older mare named Runs With the Boys listed to run in Friday’s seventh race.

Rachel Alexandra, on her way to Horse of the Year honors last season after winning the Fair Grounds Oaks here last winter, went on to “run with the boys” in three Grade I races that followed in last spring’s Preakness Stakes, as well last summer’s Haskell Invitational and finally in last fall’s Woodward Stakes. “Rachel” – a heroine to all members of the distaff set – “beat the boys” every time.