07/11/2010 11:00PM

Fair Grounds names new track superintendent


Fair Grounds has appointed 26-year-old Pedro Zavala as track superintendent, the latest in a revolving door of trackmen at the New Orleans racetrack.

Zavala has served as assistant track superintendent for five years at Fair Grounds, according to a Monday press release sent out by the track. Zavala, who was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, also worked for three years at Arlington Park. Zavala has overseen the racing surfaces at Fair Grounds since late March. The first race meet under his supervision is a 10-day Quarter Horse meeting in August. Fair Grounds' 2010-2011 Thoroughbred meet opens Nov. 25.

Zavala replaces Ian Gamble, who came from Canterbury Park - just like Fair Grounds general manager Eric Halstrom - in 2009 and lasted one year on the job. Gamble took over from Brian Jabelmann, who had been hired as a consultant midway through the 2008-2009 racing season, and would have been in line for the Fair Grounds job but for issues regarding his U.S. work status as a Canadian citizen. In 2007-2008 and for part of the 2008-2009 season, Fair Grounds had no permanent trackman on staff, with Arlington's track super, Javier Barajas, overseeing work from afar and making periodic trips to New Orleans. Roy Favret, in 2006-2007, was the last full-time, onsite track super before Gamble.

Many horsemen voiced complaints during the 2009-2010 season over the condition of the Fair Ground dirt track, which has a long-term history as one of the best and safest in the country.