01/07/2010 12:00AM

La. Downs opens with two stakes


Louisiana Downs will open its 46-date Quarter Horse meet on Saturday with a stakes double for older horses and a number of large fields. Six of the nine races on Saturday have 10 horses.

"Entries have been strong," said Trent McIntosh, director of racing operations and racing secretary for the track. "We have about 2,400 sets of [foal] papers in the office. I think we'll increase field size a little bit."

The meet will run through March 24. Louisiana Downs will race on a Saturday through Tuesday basis, with special Wednesday cards on March 17 and March 24. First post daily is 1 p.m. Central.

Top horsemen on hand this meet include Heath Taylor, who trains reigning world champion Stolis Winner, and Janet VanBebber and Kenneth Roberts, who operate two of the leading stables in Louisiana.

The stakes program opens Saturday with a pair of $20,000 races, the Harrah's Dash at 250 yards and the Grade 3 Harrah's Distaff at 350 yards. The highlight of the meet is the Harrah's Futurity at 300 yards on March 20. Last year, the race was worth $260,740.

The 12-race stakes schedule also includes the $100,000 Mardi Gras Futurity for Louisiana-breds on March 6. Purses are projected to average $80,000 a day.

Craig W. Braddick, the announcer at Arapahoe Park, will call the races this meet for Travis Stone, who is to return to the Louisiana Downs booth for the Thoroughbred season. Stone said he is spending the winter working as a media manager for Gulfstream Park.

All American deadline nears

The nomination deadline for the 2011 running of the All American Futurity is Friday, Jan. 15. The purse for the Grade 1 classic for Quarter Horses will be $2.4 million. The 440-yard race at Ruidoso Downs is traditionally run on Labor Day. The nomination payment is $150.

A horse who sweeps the 2011 runnings of the All American Futurity, Ruidoso Futurity, and Rainbow Futurity will win a $4 million bonus, according to Ruidoso.

* Runnning Brook Gal, who won last year's All American Futurity, is on vacation at a farm in New Mexico. Runnning Brook Gal is a leading contender for several year-end championship honors.