Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra
had her first recorded work of the 2010 racing season at Fair Grounds Sunday
morning, but beginning Friday a special commemorative stable halter once worn
by the magnificent filly will go on display in Fair Grounds clubhouse.
The halter, encased in a handsome shadow
box, includes the signatures of trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Calvin
Borel as part of the display, and has already become the subject of a
silent auction to kick off a barn-raising fundraiser for the Remember Me
Racehorse Rescue facility operated by Fair Grounds-based trainer Dallas
Keen and his wife Donna.
“We are deeply indebted to Steve
(Asmussen) and Mr. (Jess) Jackson
for supporting Remember Me Racehorse Rescue by donating Rachel Alexandra’s
halter to help support retired racehorses,” said Donna Keen Sunday at
Fair Grounds as her husband saddled Playbill Missile in the fourth race
of the day. “We want to thank them for their gesture.”
Remember Me Rescue placed 36 retired
racehorses in new homes in 2009, some of which were rescued from slaughter by
the couple, but new horses are coming in constantly.
“We have to put forth a huge fundraising
effort to build a new barn,” explained Donna Keen on Remember Me
Rescue’s website, teamkeen.com. “I refuse to stop taking in new horses, so the
On March 20, the silent auction for
Rachel Alexandra’s halter and shadow box will end, and the top two bidders will
be asked to participate in a live auction at Fair Grounds on March 26 when the Grade
II Fair Grounds Oaks will be run. For information on submitting a bid,
Rachel Alexandra won last season’s Fair
Grounds Oaks on her way to Horse of the Year honors, and became the fourth of
the last five Fair Grounds Oaks winners to go on and win the Kentucky Oaks
later in the spring.
Mike Dilberto Reports on ‘Buddy D’s
Mike Diliberto is the morning
line maker at Fair Grounds Race Course and for years has been a high profile
presence in the Crescent City, but his late father “Buddy D” was a local sports
legend as a newspaper, television and radio personality, and that legend lived
on as magnanimously as a Mardi Gras parade Sunday afternoon in New Orleans’
Buddy Diliberto, who has a Fair
Grounds stakes race named in his memory and whose picture hangs on the wall of
the Fair Grounds Press Box Hall of Fame, once pledged to his legion of fans
that if the New Orleans Saints ever went to the Super Bowl, he
would parade through downtown New Orleans
wearing a dress.
Sadly, ‘Buddy D’ died in 2005 before his
beloved Saints reached the Super Bowl, but on Sunday, his mostly male fans took
it up themselves to fulfill his pledge and marched downtown clad in dresses to
celebrate their Saints while getting in touch with their feminine side.
“I couldn’t go,” said Mike Diliberto
Monday morning at Fair Grounds while clocking horses during training hours. “I
had to do the line, and I’ve been fighting a cold, but my brother, my sister
and my son all went.
“My sister (Debbie Diliberto)
told me there were maybe 2,000 people marching in the parade, and another 8,000
or so lined up along the streets to watch it,” Diliberto said. “She told me all
the people got to chanting, ‘Buddy D!, Buddy D!’ in rhythm and when they
started doing that it brought tears to her eyes. My son told me he had tears in
his eyes, too. My Daddy would have really been enjoying all this.”
Video footage, photos and written
coverage of Sunday’s “Buddy D. Dress Parade” is currently available on the
Times Picayune website, nola.com.
Early Post Time Super Bowl Sunday
Fair Grounds’ faithful fans are reminded
that because their beloved New Orleans Saints are in the Super Bowl, the local
oval will have a special early first post time of 11:30 a.m. CST this Sunday.
The nine race program will end at about
3:30 p.m. CST.