Racing at the Fair Grounds

Racing at the Fair Grounds

Hodges Photography/James Hernandez

Churchill to Make Fair Grounds Improvements

CDI pledges to fix turf course before meet begins in November.

Churchill Downs Inc. officials told Louisiana lawmakers May 13 the company will reinvest in Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, thus staving off legislation that would have forced a portion of the track's annual slots revenue to track improvements.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the Louisville-based racetrack company went on the record at a Louisiana Senate committee hearing in Baton Rouge and promised to begin improvements at Fair Grounds before the 2014-15 gets under way Nov. 21. 
CDI, which has owned the track since 2004, said it would spend $690,000 to fix the track's turf course ahead of the next meet. According to Louisiana horsemen, it was poor drainage on the course that caused the cancellation of almost half the track's turf races last season.
Additionally, CDI pledged $100,000 to market to racing customers as well as another $100,000 for stable area improvements. The company also said it would repair the video screen in the paddock and replace the broken infield video screen.
As a result of CDI's promise to reinvest in Fair Grounds, state Rep. Patrick Connick of Marrero pulled legislation he authored that would have forced CDI's upkeep of the track by earmarking 10% of the track's annual slots revenue for that purpose.
"It's been a great team effort to get this into a position where I can withdraw my bill," Connick told the Times-Picayune.
CDI also promised to hire a bugler for Fair Grounds after going several years playing a recording as the horses went to post before each race.
The Times-Picayune reported that state lawmakers, though hesitant to use the government to intervene in private business, were adamant they would not let Fair Grounds, a historic New Orleans landmark, continue to decline.