Contact: Joe Kristufek
Racing Analyst/Media Relations
COX ENJOYS BANNER FAIR GROUNDS MEET
Season cut shot six racing days due to COVID-19 pandemic
New Orleans (March 23, 2020) – Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots returned to the traditional Thanksgiving Day opening for the start of the 148th racing season, but the meet concluded six racing days prior to the scheduled March 29 closing date due to a “stay-home” order issued by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, following public health concerns in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some eight days earlier on Friday, March 13, Fair Grounds was ordered to conduct live racing with no patrons, only essential employees, licensed horsemen (including owners) and credentialed media were allowed on track.
On what would be the final racing day of the meet, in front of an empty grandstand with only essential employees and horsemen with an horse in the race allowed to be present, Clint Gasaway, Lance Gasaway, Madaket Stables, and Wonder Stables’ Wells Bayou captured the 107th running of the Twin Spires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) in front-running style, earning 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which a week earlier was pushed back to Saturday, September 5. Extended to the 1 3/16ths-mile distance for the first time, the Louisiana Derby drew a full an overflow field, and 14 horses started.
Trainer Brad Cox won the final three stakes, and four races in total, on the Louisiana Derby Day card, taking the Mervin Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) with Gaining Ground Racing’s Factor This and the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks with Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Bonny South (G2) prior to her Derby win with Wells Bayou.
Earlier in the meet, Cox won the first division of the Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Linclon with Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, and Doheny Racing’s Mr. Monomoy, a half brother to 2018 champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl.
The Risen Star, which was extended to 1 1/8-miles for the first time, drew 23 entrants and thus was split into two divisions. The original $400,000 purse and Kentucky Derby qualifying points (50-20-10-5) remained the same for both divisions.
Cox, who led all trainers with 12 stakes wins at the meet, took home his third consecutive trainer’s title winning with 40 of his 147 starters. Locally-based Ron Faucheaux, who won his 500th career race during the meet, finished second with 34 wins. Tom Amoss (29), Steve Asmussen (26) and Bret Calhoun (22) rounded out the top five.
James Graham (63 wins) held off Mitchell Murrill (60) and Colby Hernandez (60) to take down his second Fair Grounds’ jockey title, with the first coming during the 2014-15 meet.
Florent Geroux, who finished fourth in the standings with 56 wins, led all jockeys in purses earned with $2,939,706 and stakes victories with ten. Shaun Bridgmohan was second with nine stakes scores.
Brian Hernandez, Jr., who completed the top five in the standing with 45 wins, scored career victory 2,000 on December 19, when guiding the Jimmy Baker-trained Afleet Roger to the winner’s circle.
In what was a tight owner’s race, Winalot Racing, LLC edged Maggie Moss 13-12, with Godolphin, LLC (11), Earl J. Hernandez, Keith J. Hernandez and John Duvielh (11) and Calumet Farm (10).
Prior to her disappointing fourth place finish as the 1-5 favorite in the Fair Grounds Oaks, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Thomas Reiman, William Dickson, and Debbie Easter’s Finite won both the Silverbulletday and the Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton. Her victory in the Silverbulletday represented the 1,000th career stakes win for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who joined D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher as the only trainers to achieve this feat.
Fourteen horses won three races at the meet. In addition to Finite, Factor This (both graded), Bobby’s Wicked One, Play On, Hieronymus, and Louisiana-bred Net a Bear, Vacherie Girl, Ninety One Assault and each won two stakes.
Allied Racing Stable’s By My Standards returned to the scene of his 2019 Louisiana Derby win to take the New Orleans Classic (G2) for trainer Bret Calhoun and jockey Gabriel Saez.
Prior to finishing fifth in the Louisiana Derby and second in the first division of the Risen Star, John Oxley’s Enforceable won the Lecomte (G3). The race was extended from 1 mile and 70 yards to 1 1/16-miles.
For the 2019-20 racing season, Fair Grounds eliminated handicap conditions for stakes races. These races are now weighted under allowance conditions.
About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global
Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 13 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 148th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 107 th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 28, 2019 through March 29, 2020. More information can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.
Information set forth in this press release contains various “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “Act”) provides certain “safe harbor” provisions for forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements made in this press release are made pursuant to the Act. The reader is cautioned that such forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time and/or management’s good faith belief with respect to future events, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in the statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date the statement was made. We assume no obligation to update forward-looking information to reflect actual results, changes in assumptions or changes in other factors affecting forward-looking information. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by the use of terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “predict,” “project,” “seek,” “should,” “will,” and similar words, although some forward-looking statements are expressed differently.
Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations include the following: the effect of economic conditions on our consumers’ confidence and discretionary spending or our access to credit; additional or increased taxes and fees; public perceptions or lack of confidence in the integrity of our business; loss of key or highly skilled personnel; restrictions in our debt facilities limiting our flexibility to operate our business; general risks related to real estate ownership, including fluctuations in market values and environmental regulations; catastrophic events and system failures disrupting our operations, including the impact of natural and other disasters on our operations and our ability to obtain insurance recoveries in respect of such losses; inability to identify and complete acquisition, expansion or divestiture projects, on time, on budget or as planned; difficulty in integrating recent or future acquisitions into our operations; legalization of online real money gaming and sports wagering in the United States, and our ability to capitalize on and predict such legalization; the number of people attending and wagering on live horse races; inability to respond to rapid technological changes in a timely manner; inadvertent infringement of the intellectual property of others; inability to protect our own intellectual property rights; security breaches and other security risks related to our technology, personal information, source code and other proprietary information, including failure to comply with regulations and other legal obligations relating to receiving, processing, storing and using personal information; payment- related risks, such as chargebacks for fraudulent credit card use; compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or applicable money-laundering regulations; compliance with payment processing and payment transmission regulations; work stoppages and labor issues; difficulty in attracting a sufficient number of horses and trainers for full field horseraces; inability to negotiate agreements with industry constituents, including horsemen and other racetracks; personal injury litigation related to injuries occurring at our racetracks; the inability of our totalisator company, United Tote, to maintain its processes accurately, keep its technology current or maintain its significant customers; weather conditions affecting our ability to conduct live racing; increased competition in the horseracing business; changes in the regulatory environment of our racing operations; declining popularity in horseracing; seasonal fluctuations in our horseracing business due to geographic concentration of our operations; increased competition in our casino business; changes in regulatory environment of our casino business; the cost and possibility for delay, cost overruns and other uncertainties associated with the develop.m.ent and expansion of casinos; concentration and evolution of slot machine manufacturing and other technology conditions that could impose additional costs; impact of further legislation prohibiting tobacco smoking; geographic concentration of our casino business; changes in regulatory environment for our advanced deposit wagering, sports wagering, or online gaming businesses; increase in competition in the advanced deposit wagering, sports wagering, or online gaming businesses; inability to retain current customers or attract new customers to our advanced deposit wagering, sports wagering, or online gaming businesses; uncertainty and changes in the legal landscape relating to our advanced deposit wagering, sports wagering, or online gaming businesses; and failure to comply with laws requiring us to block access to certain individuals could result in penalties or impairment in our ability to offer advanced deposit wagering, sports wagering, or online gaming.