Fair Grounds in New Orleans will become the newest home of Quarter Horse racing this August.
Track president Randy Soth announced Thursday that Fair Grounds will hold its inaugural Quarter Horse meet from Aug. 20-24.
Quarter Horse racing at Fair Grounds comes as a direct result of slot-machine gaming, which debuted in a temporary facility at Fair Grounds last Sept. 19.
“By Louisiana law, one of the beneficiaries of slots at racetracks is Quarter Horse racing,” Soth said. “A portion of slot revenues goes not only to purses, but to the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association.”
With the temporary facility in place for the last nine months, the allotment of purses is only enough for the five-day meet, Soth said. In future years, the meet would likely be extended.
The time frame of the Quarter Horse meet at Fair Grounds is based on two factors. “With our Thoroughbred meet dates and (the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival), and the existing Quarter Horse meet schedules at the other three tracks in Louisiana,” said Soth, “the window is very small.”
Soth expects to run 10 races a day during the week-long meet. First post time will be 3 p.m. CDT, with the day’s last race expected to be run no later than 7 p.m.
“A mid-afternoon first post allows us to run into the early evening, which will give us the opportunity to market this meet differently than our Thoroughbred racing season,” Soth said.
Though this will be the first Quarter Horse meet contested at Fair Grounds, the track is no stranger to Quarter Horse racing. Three Quarter Horse stakes races have been run on Louisiana Champions Day each December since the event’s inception in 1991. From 1988-2004, the track ran the Mardi Gras Futurity and Mardi Gras Derby, which featured trials on the Monday and Tuesday morning of Mardi Gras and finals two weeks later; those races are now held at Louisiana Downs.
A stakes schedule and condition book will be released next month.