Thursday’s 10-race Opening Day Presented by East Jefferson General
Hospital program at Fair Grounds Race Course
& Slots attracted a
robust 110 entrants (an average of 11 per race), including a
star-studded field of sprinters for the $100,000 Thanksgiving Handicap.
Recent Churchill Downs stakes winner Delaunay will take on two past Fair
Grounds Champion sprinters, Gantry and Cash Refund, in the 87th renewal
of the traditional Thanksgiving Day feature, which carries a six-figure
purse for the first time.
First post for the holiday card is
earlier than usual, at 11 a.m. (all times CST), and gates open at 10
a.m. Grandstand General Admission is free and Clubhouse General
Admission is $10. All Clubhouse Dining reservations for Opening Day are
sold out. However, the Grandstand Buffet on the second floor will offer a
complete Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings for $29.99 (no
Prior to the races, at 10:30 a.m., the
national anthem will be performed by Covington OTB Manager and 2010 Fair
Grounds Talent Show winner Theora Hunt with a colors presentation by
the New Orleans Police Department’s mounted patrol.
Day program concludes with the fifth running of the $60,000 Mr. Sulu
Stakes, showcasing a well-matched field of 10 Louisiana-breds at one
mile over the Stall-Wilson turf course. Last season’s top state-bred
turf horses, Louisiana Champions Day Turf hero String King and Bayou St.
John Stakes winner Kissimmee Kyle, will meet in a stakes event for the
fifth time in the past 12 months.
Two-time defending leading
jockey Rosie Napravnik has calls in eight of the 10 races, including
Delaunay in the Thanksgiving ’Cap. Two-time defending leading owner
Maggi Moss is represented in three races, including both stakes (all
three are to be ridden by Napravnik).
Post time for the final race on Opening Day, the Mr. Sulu, is set for 3:45 p.m.