The Challenge Championships Promise a Real Party

November 11, 2010

Challenge Championships Logo

Étouffée, jazz and horse racing: how can entertainment get any better? And this year’s Bank of America Challenge Championships and racing conference November 19 at historic Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans promises to be the best party of all.

“This will really have a New Orleans flavor,” says Eric Halstrom, track vice president and general manager. “We’re really trying to promote Quarter Horse racing to our customers in southeast Louisiana, many of whom aren’t familiar with it. The best way to do that is bring the best horses and the best people and expose our customers to the best Quarter Horse racing there is. ”

And Churchill Downs Inc., the company that’s owned Fair Grounds since 2004, has the A list when it comes to invitations. Thanks to the company’s Twin Spires simulcasting network, the potential handle at the Challenge Championships could be greatly increased over previous years.

“The Challenge races are going to be in every OTB and simulcast parlor served by the Twin Spires simulcast network – that’s the same group that simulcasts the Kentucky Derby,” said Trey Buck, AQHA executive director of racing. “The Twin Spires network will expose American Quarter Horse racing to bettors east of the Mississippi – people who are traditionally Thoroughbred bettors.”

The event will also kick off the track’s winter racing season, with a card filled with some of the top racing American Quarter Horses in the world.

Here are five reasons to head to New Orleans for the party in November:

1. The Food: Some of the best food in the world is located in New Orleans, and Fair Grounds and its vendors will be bringing it directly to patrons. We’re talking seafood, oysters, brisket and good ol’ Cajun cooking served with a wide variety of drink choices.

2. The Music: There will be live bands spread around the racetrack from the infield to the different levels inside the track. Check them all out – who knows what you’ll hear (Jazz? Blues? Zydeco?)!

3. The History: Fair Grounds is one of the oldest racetracks in the United States with a storied history. The town it resides in is even more historic. When you’re not busy attending the races or the racing conference, check out the French Quarter, ride the St. Charles Avenue Street Car line or hit the House of Blues.

4. The People: Fair Grounds launched its Starlight racing program earlier this year to great success. The track packed the house (drawing more than 10,000 people), and officials expect to see the crowds return November 19. The event will be promoted at other Churchill Downs Inc.-owned facilities: Churchill Downs, Arlington Park and Calder Race Course, which will expose Quarter Horse racing to a new audience.

5. The Horses: What could be better than watching champions duke it out to the wire in 13 stakes races worth more than $1.1 million?