07/09/2013 4:19PM

Fair Grounds stakes schedule has a familiar look


Fair Grounds Race Course on Tuesday released a 2013-2014 stakes schedule nearly identical to the one it employed during the 2012-2013 racing season. A total of 58 stakes worth $7.51 million will be offered during a meet running Nov. 22 to March 30.

Fair Grounds hosted 56 stakes during its most recent meet, but the two new races, both for Alabama-breds, are of little consequence. The track made minor changes to four Louisiana-bred stakes, including the renaming of a race for retired statebred standout Star Guitar, but the core of the 2012-2013 stakes schedule remains the same.

Louisiana Derby Day in 2014 is set for March 29, with the $1 million Louisiana Derby headlining a card that – as in recent seasons – includes the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, and the $400,000 Mervin Muniz Handicap.

Louisiana Derby Preview Day is Feb. 22, anchored by the Risen Star Stakes. The Risen Star got a 2013 purse boost to $400,000 which remains in place for the upcoming season.

After a year in which 3-year-olds who raced in New Orleans fared very well in the Triple Crown, Fair Grounds intends to lobby for the Louisiana Derby to be upgraded from Grade 2 to Grade 1 status by the North American Graded Stakes Committee.

“Our three-race prep series overall featured five of the top six Kentucky Derby finishers plus the Preakness and Belmont winners,” said Eric Halstrom, vice president and general manager, in a press release.

The 2013-2014 Fair Grounds seasons breaks with its traditional Thanksgiving Day opener and begins with a night card on Nov. 22, the Friday before Thanksgiving.