Three Fair Grounds Stakes Purses Cut

Three grade II stakes reduced by $100,000 with an eye to Fair Grounds 2011 meet.

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will reduce the purses of three stakes still to be run this season. The Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. II), and the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) will each have their purses reduced by $100,000 to $300,000.

“This move, painful as it is, ensures that we will not have to cut overnight purses for our final month of racing,” said Fair Grounds vice president and general manager Eric Halstrom. “Looking at this from a long-term perspective we have to get closer to a balanced purse account if we are to offer the highest possible purses for our horsemen next season.”

In the face of some of the worst winter weather ever seen in New Orleans and a nationwide decrease in wagering, Fair Grounds has offered some of the highest quality racing in the track’s 138-year history during its current meet. Halstrom said he hopes this momentum can continue through the end of the meet to begin 2011 on a positive note.

“We’re hoping that the world-class racing we have lined up for our big days during the final three weeks of the meet will allow us to end on a high note and then head into next year ready to go with an attractive purse structure and stakes program,” Halstrom said.

Highlights of Fair Grounds’ final weeks include the seasonal debut of Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the March 13 New Orleans Ladies Stakes; the final Starlight Racing program March 19; Fair Grounds Oaks Day, highlighted by four stakes for females on March 26, and Louisiana Derby Day, which includes six stakes, three of which are grade II events, on the meet’s final Saturday, March 27.