Edited press release
Fair Grounds has applied to the Louisiana State Racing Commission to host an 81-day meet in 2006-2007 at its facility in New Orleans, president and general manager Randy Soth said April 14.
If approved, the meet would be the first conducted at Fair Grounds since Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to the facility and New Orleans last August. The application, filed April 13, is expected to be considered by the commission at its April 24 meeting in New Orleans.
The proposed schedule for Fair Grounds' 135th season of racing begins Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 2006, and concludes March 25, 2007. Racing would be conducted Thursdays through Sundays, with Mondays added in January and February.
No designation of major events and stakes, including the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), has been made on the application. Fair Grounds officials anticipate a formal announcement regarding the 2006-07 racing season following the commission's formal approval of the track's dates application.
After Katrina ravaged the central Gulf Coast, Fair Grounds, owned by Churchill Downs Inc., was forced to relocate its 2005-06 meet to Harrah's Louisiana Downs in Bossier City. Because of the extraordinary circumstances, regulators approved an abbreviated 37-day meet, which was conducted from Nov. 19 through Jan. 22.
Repairs have been ongoing at Fair Grounds since the fall. The roof of the grandstand and clubhouse was completed March 31, and power was restored to the building last week. Backstretch maintenance, including repair and replacement of roofs, doors and stalls, is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2006-07 meet.
The first event scheduled to be held at Fair Grounds since Hurricane Katrina is the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which begins April 28.