Contact: Grant LaGrange
Racing Media Relations Coordinator
[email protected]


New Orleans (November 21, 2019) –

Horse racing returns to New Orleans, Louisiana on Thanksgiving Day as Fair Grounds Racecourse opens the gates once again for the 148th racing season with an opening day card featuring the Thanksgiving Classic.

The winter meet at Fair Grounds stretches from November 28, 2019 – March 29, 2020 highlighted by the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks and Grade II Louisiana Derby, both of which award points for the prestigious Grade I Kentucky Oaks and Grade I Kentucky Derby.

Meet Kicks Off With The Thanksgiving Classic:

The 2019-2020 season kicks off with the first Stakes race of the meet being the Thanksgiving Classic. A field of five will head to post for the Saturday feature.
Bobby’s Wicked One for trainer Al Stall Jr., who finished second in the Grade I Churchill Down Stakes and was the winner of the Grade III Commonwealth at Keeneland, will look to get back on track after two straight disappointing efforts.

Fair Grounds Meet Produced Last Winter:

Many of the sports elite trainers will return to the New Orleans oval with hopes to use the winter meet as a launch point for future success in the 2020 race season as they did last year.

In the 2018-2019 meet, Fair Grounds hosted a plethora of both graded stakes winners and Grade I classic winners including 2019 Grade I Kentucky Derby winner Country House who ran second in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes and fourth in the Grade II Louisiana Derby.

Grade I winner Street Band ran fourth in the Grade II Rachel Alexandra Stakes and was the winner of the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks before going on to win the Grade III Indiana Oaks as well as the Grade I Cotillion Stakes at Parx.

Grade I Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress showed her face winning the Grade II Rachel Alexandra as well as running in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks.

Grade III Indiana Derby and Grade III West Virginia Derby winner Mr. Money participated in both the Grade II Risen Star as well as Grade II Louisiana Derby.

War of Will dominated two of the three Kentucky Derby preps held at Fair Grounds, the Grade III Lecomte and the Grade II Risen Star Stakes, before going on to find classic success in the Grade I Preakness.

Likely horse of the year Bricks and Mortar was the winner of the Grade II Muniz Memorial before going on to win the Grade I Arlington Million and Grade I Breeders Cup Turf.

NHC Qualifying Opportunities:

Fair Grounds will once again host a live-money contest, in which players compete to turn their $1,000 live bankroll into an NHC seat. Fair Grounds will award one berth per every 18 entries to the 21st edition of the NHC held on February 7-9, 2020 at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel. The NHC is world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping tournament for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned tournaments.

As an added incentive, a $500,000 bonus will be up for grabs in Las Vegas for any of the Qualifier winners who go on to win the 2020 NHC.

Post Times
(**All times Central**)

There will be racing Thursday- Sunday most weeks, along with the special occasion of Monday racing on January 20, February 17, and February 24; Tuesday racing on February 25, and Wednesday racing on December 18, January 1, February 5, March 11, March 18, and March 25.

First post for normal race days will be 12:30 pm, however opening day will have a special post time of 12:00 pm. Other first post times of 12:00 pm will be Saturday December 14 for Louisiana Champions Day featuring 10 stakes races for Louisiana breds, December 21 for Santa Super Saturday featuring six stakes races, January 18 for Road to Derby Kickoff featuring the Grade III Lecomte Stakes, and February 15 for Louisiana Derby Preview Day featuring the Grade II Risen Star Stakes and Grade II Rachel Alexandra Stakes.

There will be two Twilight Racing days with a first post of 3:00 pm on December 7, and January 25, 2020.

On March 13, and March 27, there will be a special 5:00 pm post time for the Starlight Racing series. There will be live music in the clubhouse from 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm and music in the Miller Lite Beer Garden from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm.

Louisiana Derby Day March 21 will have an 11:00 am post time featuring the Grade II Louisiana Derby, Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks, Grade II New Orleans Classic, and the Grade II Muniz Memorial Classic.
Meet Long Specials:
Thirsty Thursdays – Throwback Thursday featuring select $2 beers and $2 hot dogs, available each Thursday throughout the live racing season with the exception of Thanksgiving Day.
Friday Martini Lunch & Weekend Wine’d Up – Weekend Wine’d Up featuring select $4 glasses of wine and 25-cent martinis. Available each Friday of the live racing season with the exception of Starlight Racing dates.
Spirited Sundays – Spirited Sunday $4 Absolut Cocktails available every Sunday throughout the live race meet.
Book Parties with us — Enjoy your holiday party, wedding or special event at one of New Orleans’ most historic venues. Contact Mary Cay Kern at 504-948-1285 or [email protected]

Betting Menu:
The popular $0.50 cent “Black Gold 5 Jackpot” returns this meet, where bettors must select all five winners of the final five races on the day. If there is only a sole winning ticket, you receive the total amount of the pool. If, however, there are multiple winners of the jackpot, the pool will carryover to the next racing day.

Graded Stakes Days:
Fair Grounds will hold a total of 12 graded stakes races worth over $3.6 million dollars (three of which for quarter horses on LA Champions Day) over the course of three days throughout the meet. The marquee day of the meet will be March 21, as the top male and female three year olds in training will compete in the Grade II Louisiana Derby and Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks as they try to earn a spot in the Grade I Kentucky Derby and Grade I Kentucky Oaks held at Churchill Downs the first Saturday in May.

Returning Jockeys and Trainers:
Fresh off his Breeders Cup success, last year’s leading trainer Brad Cox will return to the New Orleans oval where he has found success over the past few years winning 48 races from 198 starts last year and accruing over $1.5 million dollars in purse earnings.
Close runner up in last year’s trainer race, Joe Sharp will also make his presence known once again and look to better his 45 wins from 217 starts and over $1.1 million in purses.
New Orleans native Tom Amoss returns to New Orleans, having used the Grade II Rachel Alexandra and Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks as a pathway for Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress. Amoss last year finished with 28 wins from 112 starts.
Jockey Adam Beschizza who will be returning from a broken collarbone injury that happened in early October, has been working horses this week at Fair Grounds. Beschizza will look to build upon his breakout year here last year winning 78 races from 434 mounts for over $2 million dollars in purse money and his first Fair Grounds leading rider title.
Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux will make his return to his home state of Louisiana where he plans to ride the whole meet at Fair Grounds this winter. Desormeaux has won over 6,000 races and has accumulated purse earnings of over $285 million dollars in his Hall of Fame career to this point.

Media Personalities
Veteran announcer John G. Dooley returns to the Big easy oval to be the voice of Fair Grounds which he has been for over 15 years.
Mike Deliberto will also be returning to make each race day morning line as he has for years at Fair Grounds.
Joe Kristufek is the on-track and simulcast host giving his pre-race analysis for every race, every day of the meet with additional analysis and notes from Grant LaGrange.

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
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