04/25/2012 3:29PM

Fair Grounds, Delta Downs 2012-13 dates set


Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Delta Downs in Vinton, La., both received approvals for their Thoroughbred date requests during a Louisiana Racing Commission meeting Monday.

Fair Grounds will race 84 dates from Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, through Easter, March 31, 2013. The track will race mostly four days a week, Thursday through Sunday, through February. Fair Grounds will then shift to a five-day a week schedule, Wednesday through Sunday, in a departure from recent calendars in which the track raced five days a week early in the meet and then condensed to four.

“Assigning more dates toward the end of the season allows us to take advantage of historically better weather in March, which we anticipate will result in a net increase in turf races,” said Tim Bryant, president of Fair Grounds.

Fair Grounds will have special Monday cards Dec. 31, Jan. 21, and Feb. 18, as well as a special Mardi Gras card on Tuesday, Feb. 12. There will be no racing on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, with the game being held in New Orleans.

The Louisiana Derby is set for March 30.

Delta Downs will race 88 dates from Oct. 19 through March 23, 2013. The track will run on a Wednesday-through-Saturday-night basis, with a first post of 5:45 p.m. Central.

The meet’s marquee race, the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot, will be held Saturday, Nov. 17. Delta will have a special afternoon post for the program after switching to such a schedule two years ago. The race was previously run on a Friday night card the first week in December.

The Jackpot, which is a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds, was won last year by Sabercat, who is a candidate for this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Delta opens Quarter Horse meet

Delta Downs will launch a 46-date meet for Quarter Horses on Friday night. The season will run through July 14. The track will race mostly Wednesday through Saturday nights, with a first post of 6:45 p.m. Central.

Purses at the meet are projected to average $185,000 a program, according to track officials. The stakes schedule is led by the Lee Berwick Futurity, a restricted Grade 1 race July 14 that last year had a purse of $458,180. The Berwick is one of seven stakes to be run on the closing-night card at Delta.

Other highlights include the Grade 2, $100,000-added Firecracker Futurity on July 7.