Fair Grounds Stakes Purses Up $1.2 Million for the 2023-2024 Thoroughbred Racing Season
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Contact: Kevin Kilroy
Notes Writer/Media Relations
Stakes Schedule jumps to $9.7 million, the richest in Louisiana’s history
Road to the Derby Kickoff Day falls on Dec. 23
The Black Gold Stakes will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Black Gold’s Louisiana Derby
New Orleans, LA (Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023) – Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced that 73 stakes worth a combined $9.7 million will be offered during the 76-day 2023-2024 Thoroughbred meet. Up $1.2 million from last season, the increase includes the $1 million in base purses that will be offered on Dec. 2 as Fair Grounds hosts the 25th annual Claiming Crown.
“In our 152nd year, Fair Grounds will set another record for the richest stakes schedule in Louisiana history,” said Doug Shipley, President and General Manager of Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots.
Eight existing stakes receive a $25,000 boost, including two perennially star-studded turf events, the $175,000 Fair Grounds Stakes Presented by Horse Racing Nation (G3) and the $125,000 Tom Benson Memorial. The 78th running of the Louisiana Stakes Presented by Relyne GI By Hagyard (G3) is on the list and will be run for $175,000, as well as the 99th running of The Thanksgiving Classic, which will now offer a $200,000 purse.
“Many deserve thanks for their dedication and efforts to make this happen,” said Fair Grounds Racing Secretary Scott Jones. “Along with our phenomenal Road to the Kentucky Derby series and thriving turf course, this is one more reason why there is no better winter destination for horse racing than New Orleans.”
This racing season marks the 100-year anniversary of Black Gold’s Louisiana Derby victory. The 66th running of the $75,000 Black Gold Stakes (3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the turf) will take place on March 2, 2024 and will include a proper celebration with his connections’ family in attendance. Rosa Hoots became the first woman to have bred and owned a Kentucky Derby winner when Black Gold won the Run for the Roses in 1924. A member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, Hoots bred her 34-time-winning race mare U-See-It with the stallion Black Toney, which produced a jet-black foal that she named “Black Gold.” The first horse ever to win the derbies of four different states, Black Gold was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1989.
“Black Gold was the first Louisiana Derby champion to go on and win the Kentucky Derby,” said director of racing Jason Boulet. “Not only did he break his maiden at Fair Grounds but he is also buried in our infield. Our tradition is for the winning jockey of the Black Gold Stakes to place flowers on his grave. We’re proud to run a stake in his honor every year, but it will be all the more special having his owner’s family with us at Fair Grounds to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of his historic achievement.”
Opening day is slated for Friday, Nov. 17. Six $75,000 Louisiana-bred stakes will be run over the main track on the season’s first two days. Fillies and mares take center stage on Friday in the Doris Hebert Memorial (6 furlongs), the John Valene Memorial (1 mile & 70 yards), both for 3-year-olds and up, and the Donovan L. Ferguson Memorial, a 5 1/2 furlong event for 2-year-old fillies. Saturday’s trio of stakes are a mirror-image in terms of age, distance and surface, including the Larry D. Robideaux Memorial, the Jacob V. Morreale Memorial, and the Joseph R. Peluso Memorial, respectively. Each is in its second year of running, but four are renamed from last year to honor departed members of Louisiana’s racing community.
On Saturday, Dec. 2, the Claiming Crown returns to Fair Grounds for the first time since 2011. It is the second straight year that the series has gone to a Churchill Downs Inc. property, as the 2022 races were held for the first time at the company’s flagship track in Louisville after a 10-year-run at Gulfstream Park in Florida. Celebrating its 25th year, Claiming Crown purses will range from $75,000 to $200,000 for the Jewel. Another $25,000 in each race will be available in purse supplements for accredited Louisiana-bred horses.
“We were thrilled with the response to the first Claiming Crown at Churchill Downs and look forward to bringing this wonderful event back to New Orleans,” said CDI Executive Director of Racing Gary Palmisano Jr. “Fair Grounds played host to the Claiming Crown in 2011 but there is no denying this event is bigger and better than ever. We are excited to partner with the National HBPA, TOBA and the Louisiana HBPA to make 2023 among the best and the most memorable Claiming Crowns ever.”
The eight 2023 Claiming Crown races all are for horses 3-years-old and up, with two of those restricted to fillies and mares. Headlining the card is the $200,000 Jewel at 1 1/8 miles for horses that have started for a claiming price of $35,000 or less in 2022-23. Three other races—all on turf—will offer a $150,000 purse and have a $25,000 claiming requirement. Those races are the Emerald at 1 1/16 miles, its filly and mare counterpart, the Tiara, and the Canterbury Tom Metzen Memorial at 5 1/2 furlongs. The other Claiming Crown races are the $100,000 Rapid Transit ($16,000 claiming requirement) at 6 furlongs; $100,000 Glass Slipper ($12,500 claiming requirement) at one mile for fillies and mares; $75,000 Iron Horse Kent Stirling Memorial ($8,000 claiming requirement) at 1 1/16 miles, and $75,000 Ready’s Rocket Express ($8,000 claiming requirement) at 6 furlongs.
Louisiana Derby Day is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, and it will card eight stakes worth a total of $2,625,000. Written at 1 3/16 miles now for the fifth year, the 111th running of the Twinspires.com $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) is worth 100-50-25-15-10 points to the top five finishers on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). Over the past five years since Country House came through New Orleans on his way to winning Kentucky Derby 145, Fair Grounds’ Derby prep races have produced three winners, three place finishers, and three show finishers, along with two who rounded out the superfecta. Last season was no different as the second, third, and fourth-place finishers in Kentucky Derby 149 (Two Phil’s, Angel of Empire, and Disarm, respectively) trained, raced and earned qualifying points at Fair Grounds.
Run at 1 1/16 miles, the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks Presented by Fasig-Tipton (G2) awards 100-50-25-15-10 points en route to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1). Last year’s place-finisher Pretty Mischievous rebounded from that defeat with a victory in Kentucky Oaks 149, becoming owner/breeder Godolphin’s first filly to win the Run for the Lilies. Winner and third-place finishers Southlawn and The Alys Look also competed in the Kentucky Oaks.
“The strong infusion of our sport’s top 3-year-olds training and racing at Fair Grounds has been very apparent these past few seasons,” Jones said. “Beginning with the Gun Runner and the Untapable for late-season juveniles, it’s proven that our progressive schedule of 3-year-old races for both the boys and girls gives horsemen the proper distances and spacing to prepare their runners for the first weekend in May and beyond.”
A pair of high-impact, nine-furlong stakes for older horses are also scheduled on the March 23 Louisiana Derby Day program–the $500,000 New Orleans Classic Presented by Relyne GI By Hagyard (G2) on dirt and the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Presented by Horse Racing Nation (G2) on turf. Four undercard stakes are slated for the lucrative card, including the newly minted $125,000 Tom Benson Memorial for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass and a trio of Louisiana-bred events–the Costa Rising Stakes for 3-year-olds and up (5 1/2 furlong turf sprint), the Crescent City Derby (1 1/16 miles) and the Crescent City Oaks (1 mile and 70 yards).
Road to the Derby Kickoff Day falls on Dec. 23 this year and will card eight stakes. A pair of 2-year-old affairs with Kentucky Derby and Oaks point implications (10-5-3-2-1) highlight the card: the $100,000 Gun Runner contested at 1 1/16 miles and the 1 mile 70 yards $100,000 Untapable for fillies.
Two long standing juvenile 6-furlong sprint stakes remain on the Dec. 23 Road to the Derby Kickoff Day card–the Sugar Bowl and the Letellier Memorial for fillies. The undercard also features three turf stakes: the Buddy Diliberto Memorial (1 1/16 miles), the Blushing K.D. (fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles), and the Richard R. Scherer Memorial, a 5 1/2 furlong turf sprint. The Tenacious Stakes (3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles) retains its spot on the Dec. 23 card, while its female counterpart, the Joseph “Spanky” Broussard Memorial (1 mile 70 yards), shifts ahead one day from its spot on this card last year to Friday, Dec. 22. Each stake scheduled for these two days will be run for $100,000.
On Jan. 20, Road to the Derby Day features a pair of key 3-year-old events–the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) which was extended from one mile to 1 1/16 miles four years ago, and the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes Presented by Fasig-Tipton (fillies going 1 mile and 70 yards). The top five finishers in each race receive 20-10-6-4-2 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks respectively.
Four stakes for older horses will also be presented on the Jan. 20 program, including the purse-boosted $175,000 Louisiana Presented by Relyne GI By Hagyard (G3) run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, and the Colonel E.R. Bradley (1 1/16 miles), the Duncan F. Kenner (5 1/2 furlongs), and the Marie G. Krantz Memorial (fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles), each scheduled to be run for $100,000 over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course.
On Feb. 17, Louisiana Derby Preview Day features a pair of key 3-year-old stakes–the $400,000 Risen Star (G2), which was extended from 1 1/16 to 1 1/8 miles four years ago, and the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra Presented by Fasig-Tipton (G2), for fillies to be contested over 1 1/16 miles. The top five finishers receive 50-25-15-10-5 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks respectively. The Rachel Alexandra has produced three of the last six Kentucky Oaks winners in Pretty Mischievous, Monomoy Girl, and Serengeti Empress. The 2014 victress Untapable also took down the Run for the Lilies.
Four stakes for older horses will also be presented on the Feb. 17 program–the $250,000 Mineshaft Presented by Relyne GI By Hagyard (G3) at 1 1/16 miles, the newly-minted $175,000 Fair Grounds (G3) at nine furlongs on turf, the $100,000 Colonel Power at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf, and the $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
Louisiana Champions Day will be held on Dec. 9. With the races run in various divisions over a variety of distances on both dirt and turf, the program features nine stakes restricted to Louisiana-breds. Each Louisiana Champions Day stake is worth $100,000 with the exception of the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, the $50,000 Louisiana Champions Day Starter, and $50,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Starter.
Four Louisiana-bred stakes receive a $25,000 purse boost in 2023-2024, including the Gary P. Palmisano Memorial and Bob F. Wright Memorial for fillies and mares. Both 6-furlong dirt sprints for 4-year-olds and up are now worth $100,000. Together with the $100,000 Nelson J. Menard Memorial, a turf sprint for older females, these three stakes will be run on Jan. 6.
Two Louisiana-bred stakes added to last year’s schedule return with new honorees: the $75,000 Louisiana Stallion of the Year “Star Guitar” at 1 mile 70 yards and the $75,000 Louisiana Broodmare of the Year “Lipstick Junky” at one mile. Both are written for 3-year-old Louisiana-breds, will be run for $75,000, and are named for two of the great producing influences in Louisiana’s breeding history. Those stakes will be contested on Feb. 24.
Closing day is Sunday, March 24 and it will feature three statebred stakes. The purses for both older dirt routes, the Star Guitar Presented by Brittlyn Stable (1 1/16 miles) and the Shantel Lanerie Memorial (fillies and mares going 1 mile 70 yards), have been raised to $100,000. The $75,000 Page Cortez, a turf sprint for 3-year-old and up females, rounds out the trio.
The 76-day, 2023-2024 Fair Grounds racing season runs through Sunday, March 24. Regular post time will be 12:45 p.m. CT. There will be an earlier noon CT first post on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23), Road to the Derby Kickoff Day (Dec. 23), Road to the Derby Day (Jan. 20) Louisiana Derby Preview Day (Feb. 17), and Louisiana Derby Day (March 23).
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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, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 15 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. Hotel Monteleone is the official hotel of Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots, and Molson Coors is the official beer partner. The 152nd Thoroughbred Racing Season–highlighted by the 111th running of the Louisiana Derby–will run from Nov. 17, 2023 through March 24, 2024. More information is available online at www.fgno.com.