News March  24, 2018

Competitive Trainer And Jockey Battles Underway In The Harrah's Louisana Downs Quarter Horse Meet

Van Haywood is the leading trainer at Louisiana Downs through this week.

© Hodges Photography

BOSSIER CITY, LA--FEBRUARY 14, 2018--The 2018 Quarter Horse racing season at Harrah's Louisiana Downs is continuing at a rapid pace with trials for the Mardi Gras Futurity set for Saturday, February 24.

Since the meet began on January 6, the competition has been fierce in both the trainer and jockey standings. It's a safe bet that both titles will go down to the wire until the meet concludes on Wednesday, March 21.

Vann Haywood Tops the Trainer Leaderboard

The current top horseman is Vann Haywood, who leads his fellow conditioners with 14 wins from 45 starts. His top horse so far is Kris Locklear's homebred Beyondthcos, a 3-year-old son of Tee Cos, who won his third race of the Louisiana Downs meet on Tuesday afternoon.

The North Carolina native has been training for 20 years and is a fixture on the Louisiana circuit. He's won three Louisiana Downs leading trainer titles and is pleased with the way 2018 is progressing.

"We're having success entering our horses in the right spots," stated Haywood. "It's great to be able to run in a state year-round. I used to run horses and then go home for six months."

He also appreciates having futurity opportunities at each of the four meets in Louisiana and has three paid into the Mardi Gras Futurity with options to hold off until Delta Downs.

Kenneth Roberts, Sr., who was honored as 2017 AQHA Champion Trainer, is second in the standings with 11 wins and Carlos Saldivar, who won the 2015 training title here, is also having a solid meet. He has saddled ten winners and is tied with 2017 leading trainer Orlando Orozco and Josue Huitron.

"It's going to be a close race," acknowledged Saldivar. "We're doing well so far for our owners and this is the closest track to my home in Dallas. Of course, Kenny's got some big horses. He's amazing and we are all proud of him being named AQHA champion trainer."

Another horseman to watch is Javier Contreras who is the only trainer to have won two stakes races this meet. Jw Who Dat, the 6-year-old Louisiana-bred is making a name for himself as a distance horse, winning both the $15,000 Marathon Stakes on January 13 as well as the $25,000 Magnolia Stakes three weeks later.

Leading Rider Everardo Rodriguez Posting Solid Stats

Louisiana Downs boasts a highly competitive jockey colony and Everardo Rodriguez, the current leader, knows that winning the title will be simple feat.

The 28-year-old was born in San Luis Potosí, a city in central Mexico, and began riding professionally in 2013. He won his first title last December at Evangeline Downs and with 19 wins so far at Louisiana Downs, holds a narrow lead over 2017 champion Damian Martinez and David Alvarez. They are tied for second in the standings with 17 wins each.

"The competition is very tough and winning the title will not be easy," stated Rodriguez. "We all get along well, and I wish my fellow riders the best, but I will try to beat them!"

He rides for many trainers and the consensus from horsemen and his agent, Gerald Thomas, is that Rodriguez is a hard worker who always gives 100%, on the racetrack and in morning works.

"Working for Everardo is a pleasure," stated Thomas. "No one says a single bad word about him; he reminds me of a young Gilbert Ortiz, who will help anyone in need."

Martinez, 24, returns to Louisiana Downs off a record year that began with the title here last March. He won 37 races at Louisiana Downs and kept his momentum going throughout 2017, winning 124 races to finish the year as the top North American Quarter Horse jockey in wins.

Martinez shipped his tack to Louisiana in 2016 and rode the entire meet at Delta Downs, finishing second to David Alvarez. He was not sure how the transition from Texas would go, but was welcomed with open arms by the members of the Delta Downs jockey colony.

"It's a whole different atmosphere in Louisiana," stated Martinez. "Everyone was helpful and encouraging. You don't find that everywhere!"

Born in Vera Cruz, Mexico, Alvarez, 38, is the younger brother of jockey Jose Amador Alvarez. Although Texas is home, the Louisiana circuit has fueled his career; he has won leading rider titles at Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs, Fair Grounds and Evangeline Downs. Alvarez is a man of faith and credits his success in the saddle to his belief in God and his work ethic.

"Every morning, I put myself in God's hands and appreciate every opportunity I am given," said Alvarez.

Trials for the Mardi Gras Futurity Will be Contested Saturday, February 24

The draw for trials for the Mardi Gras Futurity will take place on Saturday, February 17. The interest is solid for the first official futurity of the year with 185 Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds eligible to compete in the 300-yard trials. Racing officials are projecting 14 heats and will announce a revised post time following Saturday's draw.

In addition to the Mardi Gras Futurity trials on Saturday, February 24, Louisiana Downs will offer entertainment for fans of all ages, beginning at 11:00 am! There will be a FREE children's area with bounce houses, games and face painting and culinary delights from the most popular food trucks in Shreveport-Bossier City.

Louisiana Downs Dates and Post Times

The 2018 Quarter Horse racing season at Harrah's Louisiana Downs got underway on Saturday, January 6. The 46-day meet includes 12 stakes highlighted by the first official championship for 2-year-olds, the $100,000-added Mardi Gras Futurity on March 17. Live racing will take place Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with a 1:00 p.m. (Central) post time and will continue through March 21.

To see a complete list of the stakes schedule, including trial dates, CLICK HERE.

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About Harrah's Louisiana Downs
Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000-square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.

Courtesy Ses