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Fair Grounds To Get Earliest Start Ever In 2009-10

NEW ORLEANS, La (April 27, 2009) - Fair Grounds will move up the start of its racing season by one week in 2009-10, marking the earliest start to a racing season in the track's history.

Click here to view the 2009-10 schedule (PDF) 

The Louisiana State Racing Commission approved Monday a request by Fair Grounds for an 85-day meet in 2009-10. The track's 138th season will begin on Nov. 6 and conclude on March 28, 2010.

In addition to the earlier start, other changes on the approved schedule include a shift to Friday-through-Monday racing for the final three months of the season.

"The additional week of racing allows us to open our season on the same weekend as the Breeders' Cup World Championships," said Fair Grounds vice president and general manager of racing Eric Halstrom. "By spreading out our schedule, we will also reduce the number of five-day racing weeks, which should enable us to enhance our day-to-day product."

The 21-week schedule will feature racing every Friday through Sunday except for Christmas Day. Additionally, the track will race on Thursdays from Thanksgiving and in December, except Christmas Eve, and on Mondays from Dec. 7 through the end of the season.

The traditional Mardi Gras Day card returns on Feb. 16, the only Tuesday racing day of the meet, and a special live program will be offered on St. Patrick's Day, Wednesday, March 17.

Fair Grounds' stakes schedule will be announced this summer.

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' 138th Thoroughbred meet will run from Nov. 6, 2009, through March 28, 2010, and its second Quarter Horse meet will run from Sept. 8-19, 2009. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.