Corporate Name: Churchill Downs Louisiana Horseracing Company, LLC
Street Address: 1751 Gentilly Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70119 (click for map)
Telephone: (504) 944-5515
Fax: Executive Office: (504) 944-2511; Racing Office: (504) 949-4778
Fair Grounds was acquired in October 2004, by Churchill Downs Incorporated, adding the first-quarter product to the CDI portfolio of racetracks. In conjunction with the purchase of Fair Grounds, CDI also acquired Video Services, Inc. and Fair Grounds’ off-track betting (OTB) parlours in southeast Louisiana.
In November 2008, Fair Grounds opened a permanent slot-machine gaming facility with more than 600 of the newest reel and video games, providing a new dimension of excitement for America’s third-oldest racetrack.
The track’s OTB network includes 11 locations: Boutte-Luling, Chalmette, Covington, Elmwood (Harahan), Gretna, Houma, Kenner, LaPlace, Metairie, Thibodaux, and Westwego, La., which opened in January 2013. All OTB locations except Covington offer video poker as well as simulcast wagering.
A particular source of pride for Fair Grounds is the quality of horses that come to compete at the winter meet. Fair Grounds’ racing surfaces, both turf and dirt, are nationally renowned for being forgiving and kind to conditioning equine limbs. Horses wintering here are known to go on to successful careers in other parts of the country.
Recent success stories include 2014 Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Untapable, 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can, 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, 2010 Champion Older Horse Blame, 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, 2008 Champion 3-year-old Filly Proud Spell, 2007 Grade I winner Hard Spun, 2005 Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly, 2004 Champion 3-year-old Filly Ashado and 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft.
Also in recent history, Grindstone won the Louisiana Derby in 1996 before taking the Kentucky Derby later that spring. The 2002 and 2003 Kentucky Derby winners, War Emblem and Funny Cide, each started at Fair Grounds in prep races. Blushing K.D. scored victories in the Davona Dale Stakes and the Fair Grounds Oaks before taking home the lilies in the Kentucky Oaks. In 1999, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Real Quiet made his 4-year-old debut in the Grade III New Orleans Handicap, and both 2-year-old Eclipse Award winners of 1998 – Silverbulletday and Answer Lively – began their 3-year-old seasons at Fair Grounds.
The Louisiana Derby recently awarded a $1 million purse, has always been an important Kentucky Derby prep race and became even more significant in 2010 when it was moved to the final Saturday in March where it now serves as a final prep for the Triple Crown. The Louisiana Derby produced the runner-up in both the 2013 and 2014 Kentucky Derby.
The Grade II race is the track’s flagship event and serves as the headliner of the track’s closing weekend, which includes three other Grade II races: the Fair Grounds Oaks, the New Orleans Handicap and the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap.
Fair Grounds’ season traditionally runs from late November through the last weekend in March.
Officers: Robert L. Evans, Chairman; Bill Mudd, President and Chief Operating Officer; Tim Bryant, President; William Carstanjen, Chief Executive Officer; Marcia Dall, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer