05/08/2013 2:09PM

Louisiana Downs: Roberts's large barn filled with Louisiana-breds


BOSSIER CITY, La. – The summer of 2013 promises to be a busy one for trainer Stanley Roberts. A long-time Louisiana Downs regular, Roberts brought in a string of 45 for the 84-day meet that began last weekend, a large number even by his standards.

“It’s more than we had last year,” said Roberts as he reflected on a 2012 season that saw him finish third in the trainer standings behind the equally prolific barns of Tony Richey and Joey Foster. His 29 wins from 137 starters produced a solid success rate of 21 percent.

Roberts’s stable is also essentially the same as it was at the start of 2013. Normally one of the more active outfits in the dynamic claiming game at the early spring Oaklawn meeting, Roberts instead choose to largely stand pat.

“We do usually claim quite a few at that meet but I think this year we might have claimed only one, maybe two,” he said. “Our barn has evolved into mostly Louisiana-breds, which is why we are here at Louisiana Downs. We have a few open horses but our primary focus is on statebreds, which is what you have to have to be successful here.”

A recent census conducted by the Louisiana Downs racing office seemed to validate Roberts’s philosophy. More than 70 percent of the foal certificates registered at the track are Louisiana-breds.

Roberts got off to a good start on opening weekend, winning a pair of races but said the best is yet to come.

“We have about half a dozen 2-year-olds that we have started on,” he said. “It is going to take a little time to get them ready but we think they are going to be all right.”

Racing schedule tweaked

After several seasons of racing almost exclusively nine-race programs, Louisiana Downs is reworking its schedule. Effective this weekend, Fridays and Saturdays will now feature 10 races per day while Thursday and Sunday programs will be trimmed back to eight races each.

“It’s the same number of races per week, but we are trying to maximize our ontrack exposure,” said Louisiana Downs director of operations Trent McIntosh.

“I know that we have had some pretty good numbers on some Thursdays in the past and it seems that it is all about simulcast revenue these days but the truth is, our share of live handle is about three times what simulcast money generates. If you include concessions and other considerations when you have the greatest ontrack attendance, it makes sense. We’ll see how it works out.”