The 2019 Thoroughbred racing season will get underway at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs on Saturday, May 4.
The 84-day meet includes 14 stakes highlighted by two major events, Louisiana Cup Day on Saturday, August 3 and Super Derby Day on Saturday, September 7.
The marquee stakes of the meet is the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby, which will be run at a distance of mile and one-sixteenth. Contested on the Frank’s Turf Course in 2017, the Super Derby reverted to a main track feature last year. Hall of Fame conditioner, Steve Asmussen won the 2018 Super Derby with Limation. The prestigious race, which had its first running in 1980, had a noted history as a graded stake run at nine furlongs on the dirt. The nationally acclaimed racing event has a distinguished list of past champions, including four Kentucky Derby winners, four Preakness Stakes winners, five Belmont Stakes winners and seven Travers Stakes winners.
Six previous Super Derby entrants have won the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Classic and three Super Derby winners, Tiznow, Sunday Silence and Alysheba have been voted the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year, the industry’s highest award.
There are a few changes for 2019 Super Derby Day. The date has been moved up one week and will be contested on Saturday, September 7, instead of Labor Day weekend. Also, the $60,000 Unbridled Stakes, a turf feature, has been renamed as the Frank L. Brothers, to honor the Louisiana horsemen, who was a leading trainer in Louisiana before gaining national prominence in the sport.
“We want racing fans to see our Super Derby live and enjoy the many special events planned for our signature event at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs,” said Eric Halstrom, Louisiana Downs director of operations. “We found that many patrons had out-of-town plans or holiday gatherings with family members on Labor Day weekend, so we shifted our date to the next weekend.”
Frank L. Brothers is Louisiana horseman, who won over 2,300 races and trained notable champions including Pulpit, Hansel, First Samurai and Arch. In 1991, the New Orleans native won two of the three U.S. Triple Crown races. He was inducted into the Fair Grounds Racing Hall of Fame that year, and in 2015, became the first Louisiana trainer to be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Brothers won nine training titles at Louisiana Downs and officials felt that naming a race in his honor was well-deserved. He retired four years ago and lives in Kentucky with his wife, NBC racing reporter, Donna Barton Brothers.
“Frankie is a very skilled horseman and was highly respected by our fans and horseplayers across the country,” stated David Heitzmann, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs director of racing. “We are pleased to honor him and look forward to presenting an excellent Super Derby card.”
The annual Louisiana Cup Day will feature six divisional stakes for horses bred in Louisiana, with four six-furlong main track stakes as well as the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Turf Classic and the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff to be contested at a mile and one-sixteenth on the turf. The program also includes the $60,000 Prelude, a 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds that serves as the local prep race for the Super Derby. Purses for the Louisiana Cup Day stakes will total $360,000.
Live racing will be conducted Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with a 3:15 p.m. post time and Saturday’s card to commence at 12:55 p.m. For more information on the upcoming racing season, which runs through September 25, visit https://www.caesars.com/harrahs-louisianadowns/