LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen September  28, 2022

LOUISIANA DOWNS RINGS IN 2022

The New Year ushers in the first Quarter Horse meet of 2022 when Louisiana Downs kicks off their live season on Monday, January 10. The track, located in Bossier City, will conduct 46 days of racing through Thursday, April 7.

New Owners Looking to Do More!

Louisiana Downs is now under new ownership. Rubico Acquisition Corporation purchased the Bossier City racetrack for $22 million with approval from both the Louisiana Gaming Control Board and Louisiana State Racing Commission. They hosted a family-friendly New Year's Eve fireworks show to ring in 2022 that was well-attended by fans in the Bossier City-Shreveport Metroplex.

Frank Kersh, who has been involved in gaming operations since 1992, is the new General Manager of Louisiana Downs. His most recent tenure was with Indiana Grand, but he has been involved in the opening of four casino operations as well as four casino expansions.

Kersh and Rubico are relatively new to owning and managing a racing property but are firm in their commitment to integrate racing and the casino as "one experience".

Improvements for racing are underway, according to Kersh. Already, the entire property has been power washed; landscaping has been updated; fences have been painted and the toteboard will have a brighter look on opening day. New guard stations have been ordered and plans for the jockey quarters are in the works.

"We are looking to upgrade many areas of the property," said Kersh. " There is a lot of history at Louisiana Downs; we want the facility to look presentable as we work to attract more fans."

The racing office, under the direction of David Heitzmann, Director of Racing, is busy preparing for the 46-day season, and reports that the transition to the new ownership is going well.

"They are very enthusiastic," stated Heitzmann. "It's very clear that they want make changes to the property and attract new fans. While Rubico has not owned a racetrack in the past, they have opened their ears to our horsemen."

Over 1,100 Stall Applications Received

Heitzmann also reported that he and his staff reviewed over 1,100 stall applications for the 2022 live season. Last year's leading conditioner Jose Carrizales will return, along with Rosendo Valdez, Jr., Kenny Roberts, Lanny Keith, Trey Ellis and Vann Haywood.

Everardo Rodriguez, who topped the 2021 North American Quarter Horse jockey standings in wins leads a competitive rider colony. 2020 leading Louisiana Downs jockey David Alvarez will be prominent, along with Juan Garcia, Jr., Gilbert Ortiz, Ubaldo Luna, Arturo Alvarez, Luciano Duenez and Bobby Ransom.

Mardi Gras Futurity Nominations Set Record

Three Quarter Horse stakes will be contested in 2022 highlighted by the $100,000-added Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) , which is the first official futurity of the year, on Sunday, March 27. The 15th running of the $50,000 Mardi Gras Derby will also be run that day. Both are restricted to Louisiana-bred Quarter Horses. The $75,000-added Louisiana Downs Futurity (G3) will be run on Sunday, April 3. Louisiana Downs will also offer schooling races for 2-year-olds paid into the Mardi Gras Futurity as well as the Louisiana Downs Futurity.

"We received a record 233 nominations for the Mardi Gras Futurity," said Bruce Salard, LQHBA Executive Director. "We thank the connections and look forward to seeing the talent of these Louisiana-bred juveniles in trials on March 6 at Louisiana Downs."

So, full steam ahead for the first Quarter Horse meet of 2022. Wishing the best to everyone!

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The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen, who served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Louisiana, Texas, Indiana and other regions in North America.