Fair Grounds opens its 131st season Thursday with a new look for its web site and a record eight graded stakes offered between Nov. 28 and March 31. The track will race Thursdays through Sundays through Jan. 1, when it switches to a Thursday through Monday schedule. Daily purses are expected to top $265,000.
The track's main race this meet is the March 9 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) which offers a purse of $750,000 for 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail. There are already 124 early nominees for the event. Also included in the meet is the Dec. 14 Louisiana Champions Day, for horses bred in the Bayou State.
Fair Grounds has added service providers to its Racing Network so its signal is available in 400,000 homes. Negotiations are underway to add additional cable companies to the fold to further expand availability. In addition, the track's web site offers live streaming audio and video of live racing. In another small change, Fair Grounds' customer rewards program has been renamed the Lagniappe Club.
The track's nightly replay show, Fair Grounds Race Report, will air on the Cox Sports Television network each evening at 10:30 p.m. The network will also carry 30-minute specials on some of the track's top races--the New Orleans Handicap, Fair Grounds Oaks, and the Explosive Bid Handicap. The same network will carry Track Talk, a half-hour weekly show on racing at 6:30 p.m. each Thursday.