By Brian W. Spencer —-
FRESH FACES, FAIR GROUNDS FAVORITES RETURN IN FORMIDABLE JOCKEY AND TRAINER COLONIES; BREEDERS’ CUP VICTORS TO BE BASED AT FAIR GROUNDS
NEW ORLEANS (November 15, 2017) – Live Thoroughbred racing is set to return in New Orleans for the 146th time, as Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will open for the start of the Thoroughbred racing season on Saturday, Nov. 18 with a 3 p.m. first post.
The new racing season provides a backdrop for a competitive battle in both the trainer and jockey standings, as longtime Fair Grounds stalwarts will be joined by new faces in both categories.
“We are looking forward to the start of the live racing season at Fair Grounds,” said Fair Grounds Track President and General Manager Doug Shipley. “We are excited to welcome all of new faces on the backstretch and in the jockeys’ room to join all of our returning connections for another great season of racing.”
Fresh off his first Fair Grounds leading trainer title, earned here last season, Brad Cox will return with a larger local string in seasons past when attempting to repeat his title. Mainstays in New Orleans will call Fair Grounds home again, led by 13-time Fair Grounds leading trainer and recent Breeders’ Cup Classic winning trainer Steve Asmussen and 11-time local leader Tom Amoss. Dallas Stewart, who trains Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled, will also stable on the Fair Grounds backstretch this season with his champion mare. Other major returning players on the trainer side include Mike Stidham, Joe Sharp, Bret Calhoun, Mike Maker, Al Stall, Jr., Larry Jones. Ken McPeek, Mark Casse and Sam David will return with larger strings than last season.
Several nationally recognized trainers who will be racing at Fair Grounds this season include Buff Bradley, Chris Hartmann, Ian Wilkes, Eddie Kenneally, Michael Tomlinson, Pat Byrne and Rodolphe Brisset.
The Fair Grounds jockey colony will again be among the most competitive in the country, headlined by last year’s leading rider, Florent Geroux. The French native is coming off his biggest lifetime win when guiding Gun Runner to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 4. Geroux will be joined again by prominent riders from years past in Robby Albarado, Brian Hernandez, Jr., Miguel Mena, Francisco Torres, Colby Hernandez, Mitchell Murrill and James Graham. New faces in the jockey colony include Corey Lanerie, Joe Bravo, Chantal Sutherland and Chris Emigh.
In the equine category, the winners of the feature races on both days of the recently run Breeders’ Cup will stable on the backstretch in New Orleans. Gun Runner and Forever Unbridled will both prep at Fair Grounds in advance of their anticipated next start with both pointing to the Grade I Pegasus World Cup in January at Gulfstream Park.
About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation’s third-oldest racetrack, 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 11 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 146th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 105thrunning of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 18, 2017 through March 31, 2018. More information can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.