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Fair Grounds Opens September 7

Fair Grounds' 12-day meet opens September 7.

September 1, 2011

Fair Grounds

As purses for American Quarter Horse racing in Louisiana continue to grow, so too does the annual summer Quarter Horse Meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, expanded to 12 days and opening September 7. The largest Quarter Horse meet ever staged in New Orleans will feature a rich stakes schedule worth nearly $600,000, on top of daily overnight purses averaging $120,000.

The season runs Sept. 7-24, Wednesdays to Saturdays, with a first post of 12:40 p.m. CDT daily. General admission is always free during the meet.

Opening day will feature the $40,000 Treme Stakes for 3-year-old Louisiana-breds at 350 yards, as well as qualifying heats for the $290,000-est. Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association Sales Futurity (RG1), with the finals to be run Sept. 24. A full field of 10 was entered in the Treme. The likely favorite is Jess Like Alabama, winner of five in a row, including the Vinton Stakes (G3) in his most recent start.

The stakes schedule also includes the $40,000 Audubon Stakes for older Louisiana-bred females on September 10 and the $40,000 Mid-City Stakes for older Louisiana-breds on September 23.

Closing Day features a quartet of stakes: the $30,000 De Saix for 2-year-olds, the $290,000-est. LQHBA Sales Futurity (RG1), the $50,000 LQHBA Sales Invitational and the $30,000 Fair Grounds Bonus Challenge.

As usual, the robust slots-supplemented purses at Fair Grounds have helped to attract some of the sport’s top horsemen. Alfonso Lujan, the all-time leading Summer Quarter Horse jockey at Fair Grounds, will return to defend his 2010 leading rider title against past Fair Grounds champions John Hamilton (2009), Gilbert Ortiz (2009) and Juan Vazquez (2008). Another to look out for is J.R. Ramirez, currently third in the nation by wins.

Kenny Roberts Sr., the track’s all-time leading Summer Quarter Horse trainer, will again be a formidable presence this season. His 36-horse string is the largest on the grounds. Roberts earned his first Fair Grounds title last year with nine wins and will defend that crown against the likes of past Fair Grounds champions Heath Taylor (2009) and Janet Van Bebber (2008). Others expected to make an impact at the top of the standings include Anthony Arey, Guadalupe Garza, Bobby Martinez, Gene Stephens and Michael Zingelmann.

Whether it’s for the high-quality racing or the variety of delectable food offerings, Closing Day on September 24 promises to be the biggest afternoon of the season. In addition to four important stakes races, NOLAfoodtrucks.com and Fair Grounds will celebrate the culture of street food, food trucks, and beyond at the inaugural Street Fare Derby Presented by Budweiser, from 12:30 to 6 p.m. The afternoon of delicious eats from the street also includes live music by New Orleans mainstays Kermit Ruffins & The Barbecue Swingers (3-5 p.m.) and Papa Grows Funk (12:30-2:30 p.m.).

Admission to the Street Fare Derby the day of the event is $15. Advance tickets are available online exclusively through StreetFareDerby.com for $10. A one-hour VIP Preview with early access beginning at 11:30 a.m. is also available online for $40 per person, which includes a limited edition t-shirt, a reserved parking space, tastings from vendors, plus beer and cocktails. The Street Fare Derby will continue until 6 p.m., shortly after the day’s final race. Participating vendors include Curbside Truck, The Fry Bar, Geaux Plates and Woody’s Fish Tacos, with many more to be announced in coming weeks. Street Fare Derby is presented by Budweiser, in partnership with Where Y’At Magazine, Gambit Weekly and nola.com.

For more information, visit the horsemen’s page at Fair Grounds’ website