In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which severely damaged the Fair Grounds and Delta Downs, the Louisiana Racing Commission approved a shift of racing dates and locations during a Sept. 30 meeting.
Delta Downs, which was scheduled to conduct an 88-day Thoroughbred meeting beginning Oct. 21, will now run its meet beginning on or around Dec. 1 at Evangeline Downs.
Delta Downs requested 45 days (until Nov. 15) to evaluate its facility with the option to return the meeting to the Vinton, La. oval around Jan. 11, provided all damage had been repaired.
"The commission understands the plight of the horsemen wanting to know when and where the meets are going to be held," said Sean Alfortish, president of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association. "Delta believes it's possible to have the track ready by mid-to-late January, and the commission is giving them time to prepare their facility."
Evangeline Downs will begin its Quarter Horse meet Oct. 1 and will follow up with the Louisiana Downs Quarter Horse meeting at Evangeline Downs. Louisiana Downs, which is currently hosting a Thoroughbred meeting, will host an abbreviated 37-day Fair Grounds meeting Nov. 19-22.
"Our situation down here is critical," Alfortish said. "The horsemen are anxious, and I believe some relief did come today when a plan that will allow them to move forward came together."