03/31/2017 12:06PM

Louisiana Downs switches Super Derby to turf for 2017

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The Super Derby is going green.

The Super Derby, the signature race for Louisiana Downs since Temperence Hill won the inaugural running in 1980, will be moved to the grass for the first time this year, said Trent McIntosh, assistant general manager of Louisiana Downs. The date of the Super Derby will be Sept. 9.

“Today, there are a lot fewer 3-year-old races on the grass,” McIntosh said. “We want our key race to have the best and largest field we can put out there, and making the move to the turf, there’s an opportunity to have a better overall quality field.”

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The switch to turf is part of a complete makeover of the Super Derby. McIntosh said the race will be 1 1/16 miles, and the purse will be $200,000. In recent years, the Super Derby has been run over 1 1/8 miles on dirt, and it’s been a Grade 3 event worth $400,000. The race will not have a grade this year because of the surface switch. The purse reduction was made to help balance purses for the remainder of the season, which runs a total of 84 dates from May 6 through Sept. 27.

“It’s an effort to make sure the rest of our meet is successful,” McIntosh said. “It’s to help maintain a quality meet for both the horsemen who do participate in the other 83 days of our meet and for the horseplayers who play our races the other 83 days of the season.”

Last year, the Super Derby drew a field of seven and was won by Texas Chrome. He also won the Prelude, the local prep for the Super Derby, and the Prelude also will be moved to turf this year, said McIntosh. The $60,000 Prelude will be run Aug. 5.

Louisiana Downs has not yet released its stakes schedule for 2017. The Super Derby will again be supported by the same four undercard stakes as last year, said McIntosh.

McIntosh said Louisiana Downs plans to race Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. McIntosh said the track is looking to build on success it had last year when substituting Wednesdays for Sundays.

“Wednesday ended up being our largest handle day,” he said. “We felt like moving our product to Mondays and Tuesdays might be more of the same, giving us the ability to be in a less competitive environment, where our racing will be the focal point on Mondays and Tuesdays.”

Post time will be 3:15 p.m. Central daily, said McIntosh.