The purse for the March 26 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks at
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has been boosted to $500,000 (from
$400,000), making it the richest prep race for 3-year-old fillies pointing to
the prestigious May 6 Kentucky Oaks.
Four of the last six winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks have
gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks: Rachel Alexandra (2009), Proud
Spell (2008), Summerly (2005) and Ashado (2004).
Fair Grounds also announced a $50,000 increase to the March
26 Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Memorial Handicap (for older horses at 1 1/8 miles
on turf), bringing its purse to $400,000. Cumulatively, the six March 26 stakes
– led by the $1 million Louisiana Derby (for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles) and
also including the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (for older horses at 1 1/8
miles), the $150,000 Duncan Kenner Stakes (for older horses at six furlongs)
and the $100,000 Bayou Handicap (for older females at 1 1/16 miles on turf) –
are now worth $2.55 million, further extending its claim as the richest day of
racing in state history.
In addition, three Louisiana-bred stakes on March 25 have
been bumped from $60,000 to $75,000 apiece: the Costa Rising Stakes (older
horses at 1 1/16 miles), the Red Camelia Stakes (older females at 1 1/16 miles on
turf) and the Bayou St. John Stakes (older horses at 5 ½ furlongs on turf).
Along with the Crescent City Oaks and Crescent City Derby, already worth
$75,000 each, the five-stakes Louisiana-bred extravaganza billed as “Battle On
the Bayou” kicks off the final weekend of the season.
To encourage attractive field sizes on the three-day
closing weekend, March 25-27, Fair Grounds will add 25% to the purse of any
overnight race that has a field of 10 or more at the time horses leave the
“Due to the strength of our local businesses – live racing,
casino gaming and video poker – we’re able to add some additional funds to the
purses during the last week of our meet,” said Fair Grounds Vice President
& General Manager Eric Halstrom. “Increasing the purses on
certain stakes is consistent with our continued effort to attract the best
horses in the country to New
Orleans and the bonuses on the
overnight races for full fields will benefit the horsemen who have stayed with
us through the end of our season, not to mention the value-seeking bettors.”
KATHMANBLU, INGLORIOUS HEADED FOR FAIR GROUNDS OAKS
Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stable’s Kathmanblu
and Donver Stable’s Inglorious, first and second, respectively, in the Grade
III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds during Louisiana Derby
Preview Day on Feb. 19, appear destined to face each other again in the Grade
II Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26.
Jockey Garrett Gomez has already accepted the mount
on Kathmanblu in the Fair Grounds Oaks, and Inglorious’s trainer Josie
Carroll updated on the progress of her filly Friday morning during training
“At this point we are going (in the Fair Grounds Oaks),”
said Carroll, “and as long as everything stays good we’re headed that way.”