06/28/2012 12:22PM

Fair Grounds stakes schedule includes a richer Risen Star

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The stakes schedule announced Thursday for the Fair Grounds 2012-2013 meet includes fewer races but many higher purses than in 2011-2012, the chief enhancement being a $100,000 upgrade to the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, which will be worth a record $400,000 in 2013.

The Risen Star, a prep for the $1 million Louisiana Derby, anchors Fair Grounds’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day, scheduled for Feb. 23 next year. The Louisiana Derby itself will be run March 30, moving back to a Saturday after being contested on a Sunday this year. The Sunday program was arranged to mesh with the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball championship, which was held in New Orleans this past spring. The Grade 2, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, which anchored a Saturday program in 2012, is back to being part of the Louisiana Derby program in 2013. Also on that card are two more Grade 2’s, the $400,000 Mervin Muniz and the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap.

In all, Fair Grounds will offer 56 stakes worth $7.435 million during its upcoming season compared to 61 stakes worth $7.46 million last meet. The reduction in the number of stakes is due primarily to the absence of the six-race Claiming Crown, which had a one-year run in New Orleans. Also cancelled for 2012-2013 was the Kudzu Juvenile for Alabama-breds.

Two yet-to-be-named $75,000 turf-sprint races have been added to the 2012-2013 stakes program, and Fair Grounds boosted the purses of several stakes besides the Risen Star. The New Orleans Ladies, for older dirt-route females, has been raised to $150,000 from $100,000, while six other stakes worth between $75,000 and $125,000 last season got $25,000 hikes.

Two stakes had their purses trimmed, the Gentilly from $75,000 to $60,000, and the Bayou Handicap from $100,000 to $75,000.

Fair Grounds’s 84-day racing season runs from Nov. 22-March 31.