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Horse racing: Louisiana Downs’ Thoroughbred season begins Saturday

Louisiana Downs Press Release

Louisiana Downs will kick off its 2023 Thoroughbred racing season on Saturday, May 6. Opening day will feature seven live races beginning at 2:05 pm (Central) and the simulcast of the 149thKentucky Derby from Churchill Downs.

The 61-day meet will feature live racing on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday through September 12, with a few Tuesday cards added to the schedule. 

As previously announced, the $200,000 Super Derbyreturns to Louisiana Downs on Saturday, September 2.  Bringing back the historic championship was a goal for track owner Kevin Preston and plenty of festivities are in the works for theLabor Day weekend event.

To see the complete stakes schedule for the 2023 live racing season, visit ladowns.com

Shane Wilson Looking to Claim His Third Louisiana Downs Training Title

Shane Wilson topped his fellow conditioners in both the 2021 and 2022 Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred season and is looking forward to another successful meet.  The Haughton, Louisiana resident returns off an excellent showing at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, in which he finished fourth in the standings.

“We had a really good winter at Fair Grounds with 25 wins,” said Wilson. “I had success claiming a few and picked up some good owners.” 

Louisiana Downs has always been important to Wilson, who began his tutelage here as a 14-year-old hot walker for the legendary Jack Van Berg. He saddled his first winner in 1998 and has won 748 races with his runners earning $14.5 million. Assisted by his wife, Becky and son Peyton, Wilson believes in keeping his horses well-fed and cared for.

“If you come to my barn and rattle a peppermint wrapper, you will see 70 horses go crazy,” shared Wilson. 

Jockey Jose Guerrero who will ride first call for the barn again this meet, with Alexander Castillo also part of Wilson’s core group of jockeys.

Wilson tips his hat to Louisiana Downs president and owner, Kevin Preston.

“Kevin has done a lot to improve things here,” stated Wilson. “There is a nice sports book  and new slot machines. The new restaurant is very nice and a good place to bring clients after races.

The competition for the training title will be fierce with Joey Foster, 2019 leading trainer, returning with a full barn as well as  Karl Broberg, Steve Asmussen, Joe Duhon,  Ronnie Ward,  Philip Dison, Jose Camejo,  Patti Turner, Juan Larossaand Rylee Grudizien.  H. B. Johnson, Jr. heads into opening weekend just seven shy of his 1,000th career win. 

Wilson also cited some new trainers coming to Louisiana Downs in 2023.

“It’s nice to see Cesar Govea, Bobby Felks and Paul Duhon with stables here this meet,” added Wilson. “I enjoy the competition!” 

Newlyweds Aubrie Green and Angel Suarez Part of a Strong Jockey Colony 

Opening day will also see newlyweds Aubrie Green and Angel Suarez competing on the card. They tied the knot on April 22 in a gorgeous sunset beach ceremony in Clearwater, Florida. 

Aubrie Green has become one of the most popular jockeys in Louisiana. Born in Idaho, she married when she was 18 and had three children before setting her sights on riding professionally.

“I guess I was a broodmare first,” she jokes.

But even as a busy young mom, she had a desire to pursue a career as a jockey.

“I had a really rough debut,” she recalled. “I was 23 and rode my own horse in a stock race at a fair meet.” 

She began galloping for a few trainers and rode in a schooling race at Pocatello Downs; then on to Wyoming Downs, where she rode her first winner in August, 2015. She made her way to  Louisiana Downs in 2017, finishing seventh in the standings and improving to third the following year. Her success created opportunities at Fair Grounds, which is where she first met Suarez. A native of Puerto Rico, Suarez graduated from Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocational Hipica., the famedjockey school with a noted list of riders, including Irad Ortiz Jr and his brother, Jose Ortiz.

Suarez came to Fair Grounds at the end of 2020 to ride for trainer Michael Stidham. Green was in the barn area prior to the beginning of the meet and ran into Suarez.

“I believe our first exchange was Angel asking if I was trying to steal his mounts,” she recalled.

Suarez was injured early in the meet and Green had a spill shortly after his, so they got to know each other at physical therapy!

“I fell in love with him before the Fair Grounds meet was over and joined him at Delaware Park,” said Green.

Fortunately, her daughter and two sons bonded with Suarez, who had never been married or had children prior to meeting Green.

“My boys are already bigger than both of us,” she said. “He loves the kids and they love him!”

Green will be represented by former rider and Louisiana Downs Hall of Fame inductee Ronald Ardoin.  Suarez will utilize agent Richie Price.  Both riders intend to stay in Bossier City for the entire meet, and beginning opening weekend, they will compete in plenty of races. It won’t be the first time they have left the starting gate together; previous appearances came at Delaware Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Fair Grounds. But it will mark their first as a married couple.  Will there be spirited competition? Absolutely, according to Green.

“We already constructed a point system and will be adding wins on a daily basis,” she stated.

The happy couple will be part of a very capable jockey colony including Carlos Lozada who was leading rider in 2021 and 2022;  2020 top jockey Joel Dominguez,  Emanuel Nieves. Jose Guerrero, Gerard Melancon and Alexander Castillo. Both Nieves and Lozada also graduated from Puerto Rico’s Escuela Vocational Hipica.  Recovered from an injury, Devin Magnon  will return to action along with apprentice riders Jocelyn Edison and Hugo Torres.

Opening Week Promotions at Louisiana Downs

In addition to enjoying live racing and the entire card from Churchill Downs on Saturday, Louisiana Downs is kicking off the week with a new promotion featuring Roxanne Tanner, known as Ambasador Roxy. Fans can follow the daily clues in Roxy’s wallets of wagers race to find Roxy in the community to receive a wallet with a mystery wagerof up to $500!  

On opening day Club 74 members will receive a $5 Free Bet by swiping their loyalty card at the Racing Promotional Kiosks on Saturday, May 6. The Free Bet is valid on the following Saturday and can be used for live racing or simulcast wagers.  Louisiana Downs will be selling Official Kentucky derby merchandise and Louisiana Downs signature swag. There will be a Best Dressed Contest with cash prizes. Families are always welcome to enjoy the Kids area with on the trackside apron with bounce houses and Food Trucks with delectable options. 

For guests who prefer the air-conditioned comfort of the grandstand, box seats can be reserved via the website www.ladowns.com or they can choose between either the Clubhouse buffet or the Skyroom buffet. Reservations are made for these venues by emailing reservations@ladowns.com

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