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Memorial Service for Trainer Dana Whited Set for Saturday, September 22

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is saddened to confirm the passing of trainer Dana Whited. Her sister, Gina Nagy Wilson confirmed that Whited died on Friday, September 14 from heart failure.

 

The 52 year-old horsewoman was born in Dodge City, Kansas and has been a respected member of the Louisiana racing industry since 2012. According to Equibase statistics, Whited saddled 851 horses, with a record of  94 win; 107seconds and 102 thirds. She won 18 races this year on the Louisiana circuit.

 

A memorial service will be held in the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs winner’s circle this Saturday, September 22 at 7:00 pm. The public is invited to pay their respects.

 

“Dana was so much more than a trainer; she was a friend to everyone,” said Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk. “This was a shock for our racing community as Dana looked out for so many people and served as a mentor to anyone she could help.  She will be greatly missed.”

 

OWNER STATON FLURRY HAS A SPECIAL PLACE IN HIS HEART FOR HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Flurry and Tor Con Six
Staton Flurry and Tor Con Six. Hodges Photography.

Bossier City, LA – Thoroughbred owner Staton Flurry will never forget winning the 2017 Super Derby at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs with Mr. Misunderstood.

 

Last September, the marquee stakes for 3-year-olds was run on the Franks Turf Course at the distance of a mile and one-sixteenth. Trained by Brad Cox, the gelded son of Archarcharch, shipped in undefeated on the turf, and punched his ticket to the Super Derby with a win in the $60,000 Prelude, which was also run on the turf in 2017.

 

Flurry, 28, is a passionate Thoroughbred owner from Hot Springs, Arkansas. His family’s Flurry Racing Stables, LLC has campaigned a quality group of stakes winners at Oaklawn Park and Louisiana Downs. . Flurry’s first stakes winner Little Miss Flurry captured the 2014 Razorback Futurity. But Mr. Misunderstood has vaulted to the top of the ladder with an incredible record of 11 wins from 19 starts. Since winning the Super Derby, the dark bay gelding won five stakes including the Grade 2 Wise Dan at Churchill Downs. Purchased for $130,000, he currently boasts earnings of $707,854.

 

Flurry made the trip back to Louisiana Downs this week to see three of his horses who are trained by Karl Broberg.  On Monday afternoon, Tor Con Six, a 4-year-old son of Half Ours ran in a starter optional claiming sprint, and despite coming into the race off three wins, struggled and finished fifth.

 

“That was a little disappointing as he had been doing great,” said Flurry. “His rider (Gerardo Mora) said he just spit the bit.”

 

Tuesday it was Golden Driller in the second, a $21,000 maiden at six and one-half furlongs. The 3-year-old by Caleb’s Posse was injured last October at Remington Park. Flurry sent him to Louisiana Downs last month and looked forward to a solid return off the layoff. With Mora aboard, he caught the leader Three Time Charmer, briefly took the lead, before losing by a nose.

 

Wednesday marks the debut of Mathieu, a 2-year-old Louisiana-bred son of Custom For Carlos, out of the Vindication mare Laughing Saint. He has posted several solid works for the six furlong main track event and will be ridden by  Jose Guererro.

 

“We’ve babied him along,” said Flurry. “He has settled down since being gelded and I have come over to see a few of his works, and am looking forward to watching him run on Wednesday.”

 

Flurry debated on several names for the 2-year-old, finally settling on Mathieu in honor of Louisiana native Tyrann Mathieu, an All American football player. He played for LSU and is now a safety for the Houston Texans.

 

Next up for Mr. Misunderstood is the $1,000,000 Shadwell Mile at Keeneland on October 6 with the Grade 1, Breeders’ Cup Mile on the radar for Flurry and Cox.

 

“Winning the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs was a cool starting spot for Mr. Misunderstood,” stated Flurry. “We thought we really might have something, but to think that he may be two races away from earning a million dollars is pretty amazing.”

 

Memorial Service for Trainer Dana Whited Set for Saturday, September 22

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is saddened to confirm the passing of trainer Dana Whited. Her sister, Gina Nagy Wilson confirmed that Whited died on Friday, September 14 from heart failure.

 

The 52 year-old horsewoman was born in Dodge City, Kansas and has been a respected member of the Louisiana racing industry since 2012. According to Equibase statistics, Whited saddled 851 horses, with a record of  94 win; 107seconds and 102 thirds. She won 18 races this year on the Louisiana circuit.

 

A memorial service will be held in the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs winner’s circle this Saturday, September 22 at 7:00 pm. The public is invited to pay their respects.

 

“Dana was so much more than a trainer; she was a friend to everyone,” said Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk. “This was a shock for our racing community as Dana looked out for so many people and served as a mentor to anyone she could help.  She will be greatly missed.”

 

Announcer John McGary Off to Zia Park This Week

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary will wrap up his duties in the booth on Wednesday, September 19. He will head to Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico to call the races for their 2018 live racing season which begins on Saturday, September 22.

 

Announcer Mike Persichino will fill in for McGary for the final four days of the meet. He began calling races in 1999 with appearances in Utah, Arizona, California and Oregon. Persichino has been the voice of Wyoming Downs since 2014 and called the final two weeks of the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred meet last September.

 

Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

As of September 18, Karl Broberg tops the trainer standings with 25 wins. Last year’s leading trainer, Joey Foster follows closely with 24 winners and horses trained by Al Stall, Jr. have won 22 races.  Jorge Lara, Beverly Burress, Jose Camejo and Danny Pish have each saddled 17 winners this meet.

 

Emanuel Nieves won eight races last week and continues to lead the rider standings with 75 wins. Last year’s leading jockey Gerardo Mora has been steadily making his way up the ladder and is now in second place with 65 victories. Joel Dominguez is third with 64 trips to the winner’s circle and Hector Del-Cid and Jose Guererro have each won 40 races.

 

Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. and End Zone Athletics, Inc. are tied for leading owner honors with 14 wins. Patti Turner is next with 12 victories and Beverly Burress and Indian Creek Thoroughbred Farms, LLC follow with nine wins each.

 

The winners of each division will be honored on Wednesday, September 26, which is the final day of the 2018 Thoroughbred racing season.

 

Diego Saenz Approaching his 2,000th Career Win

Jockey Diego Saenz is just 9 wins away from his 2,000th career victory. The 39-year-old rider won one race on the Monday, September 17thcard, piloting My Prophet for trainer Eduardo Ramirez.

Saenz is named on 15 horses this week. Once the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs meet wraps, he will head to Delta Downs when their meet opens October 17. He has won four leading rider titles at the Vinton, Louisiana racetrack.

 

Wednesday and Saturday Race Day Promotions

Louisiana Downs offers value for racing fans each Wednesday with Dollar Day. They will be able to enjoy $1 hot dogs, $1 beer at the Paddock as well as $1 programs. Saturday’s weekly promotion is the Family Four Pack featuring four hot dogs, four sodas, a program, and a box seat for four at the affordable price of just $16.

 

The Total Rewards program is free for horseplayers. With the swipe of their card each Saturday, members will receive valuable incentives.  These include:

  • Play $250 or more to receive a 5X multiplier
  • Play $1,000 or more to receive a 7X multiplier
  • Play $5,000 or more to receive a 10X multiplier

Participant’s multiplier cannot exceed a total balance of more than one hundred thousand (100,000) Reward Credits during one promotional day after the multiplier is applied.

 

Post Times and Stakes Schedule

Live racing will be conducted Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday with a 3:15 p.m. (Central) post time through Wednesday, September 26.

 

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.

 

Keeneland 2019 April Two-Year-Olds In Training Sale Set For April 9

Keeneland officials announced September 14, 2018, that the 2019 April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale will be held Tuesday, April 9. The Preview Day, which will offer breezes over both the main dirt track and turf course, will be held Monday, April 8.

“Keeneland looks forward to the return of the April Sale, and we anticipate we will see several 2018 September Yearling Sale graduates participating,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said.

“The April Sale affords horsemen several unique advantages,” Elliston said. “One is the opportunity to present a consignment before a number of prominent owners and trainers at Keeneland for opening weekend of the Spring Meet, which begins April 5, and includes the Toyota Blue Grass. Another is the chance to breeze your juvenile over Keeneland’s dirt track and turf course, two of the best racing surfaces in the country.”

Keeneland conducted its April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale from 1993-2014. The sale has been on hiatus since 2015.

The April Sale has a proven record of success, having produced 2017 champions Lady Eli and Roy H in its final edition in 2014. The auction counts six classic winners among its graduates: Belmont (G1) winner Palace Malice; Preakness (G1) winner and champion Lookin At Lucky; Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness winner and champion Big Brown; Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner and champion Thunder Gulch; and Kentucky Oaks (G1) winners Keeper Hill and Gal in a Ruckus. Champion Beautiful Pleasure also is an April sale graduate.

AAEP Foundation Equine Disaster Relief Fund Now Accepting Monetary Donations to Aid Hurricane Florence Victims

As Hurricane Florence makes landfall in the eastern Carolinas, the AAEP Foundation is accepting charitable contributions from individuals and industry organizations in support of its Equine Disaster Relief Fund.

Just as was done in 2017 during hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the Foundation will work with agencies and veterinarians in the region to identify the needs of the equine community. Supplies are not being accepted until specific needs are identified.

Authorities indicate that many horses are being relocated inland, putting a heavy strain on facilities and caregivers, while other horses may become stranded in flooded eastern flatlands. The predicted flood waters will make extended care for displaced animals an ongoing need.

“Once we receive an assessment of need and distribution protocols from the agencies and veterinary members in the area, the Foundation will work to meet their needs,” said AAEP’s director of industry relations Keith Kleine.  “While we know people like to donate supplies, monetary support to a trusted charitable organization is always the best response everyone can provide immediately.”

Should Hurricane Florence’s impact be less than anticipated, any unused contributions will be maintained in the Disaster Relief Fund for use in future disasters.

To support the impending needs of these equine victims, please give online at https://foundation.aaep. org/disasterrelief

Developed in 2005 during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the AAEP Foundation Equine Disaster Relief Fund was formed to help ensure the safety and care of horses affected by natural disasters. Since its inception, over $500,000 has been donated through supplies, shipping, and monetary support to aid horses of all breeds in disaster-related situations. Disaster preparedness training and education for horse owners, veterinarians and first responders also receive Fund support.  All money donated is strictly used to benefit horses in need.

Gifts by mail can be sent to: Equine Disaster Relief Fund, AAEP Foundation, 4033 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, Ky 40511; (800) 443-0177 (U.S. only) or (859) 233-0147.

About the AAEP Foundation

The AAEP Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1994, serves as the charitable arm of the American Association of Equine Practitioners to improve the welfare of horses. Since its inception, the Foundation has disbursed more than $5.4 million to fulfill its vital mission.

 

FAMILY SUPPORT FUELS THE GROWING STABLE OF TRAINER SCOTT GELNER AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

Scott Gelner
Scott Gelner. Coady Photography.

Bossier City, LA – Trainer Scott Gelner is a busy man! He is currently running horses at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs and on Saturday, sends Norman Stables, LLC’s Taylor’s Spirit to Churchill Downs to run in the Grade 2, $200,000 Pocahontas. Shaun Bridgmohan will pilot the Kentucky-bred daughter of Algorithms, who is undefeated in three starts for Gelner. She stretched out successfully in the $60,000 Happy Ticket here on September 2 and will have to go an extra sixteenth of a mile Saturday.

“She’s a nice filly and has handled everything well so far,” he said.

Gelner will not make the trip to Kentucky as he and his wife, Felicia, will renew their vows on Saturday.  They look forward to welcoming family members; many of whom could not make it to Louisiana for their wedding a decade ago.

“They couldn’t get here because of the hurricane,” explained Gelner.

He has eight stalls at Churchill Downs; will have 40 at Delta Downs when their fall season begins and 24-30 at Fair Grounds when the New Orleans track opens in November. Plus, Gelner plans to send 12 to Sam Houston Race Park for their 2019 Thoroughbred meet.

“I was at Sam Houston back in 1994 as an assistant to my dad, John Charles Gelner,” he said.

Gelner has a very nice filly named Yes Gorgeous, who was also a stakes winner on Super Derby Day. He owns and trains the 3-year-old filly by Mass Media out of a mare named Isn’t She Gorgeous. He purchased Yes Gorgeous for a mere $1,700 at the Louisiana Mixed Sale.

“I trained her mama for a few races,” said Gelner. “She had a few problems, but overcame them with her big heart. When I saw this filly at the sale, I wasn’t sure what kind of  career she would have.”

But in what has to be one of the most pleasant surprises, Yes Gorgeous has been a treasure for Gelner. Her victory in the $60,000 Elge Rasberry on September 2 was her fourth in 17 starts. She has run second nine times and has already earned $208,455.

“You always dream about a sale purchase fulfilling your expectations,” said Gelner. “This filly is just a blessing from God for me and my family. She has handled everything we have ever asked: turf, dirt, even running against the boys.”

His father, John Charles Gelner, had a productive three-decade career in Texas and Louisiana. Both parents are deceased, and their loss is very difficult for Gelner. When Yes Gorgeous won in the driving rain on Super Derby day, Gelner wept following her victory.

“I really missed both my mom and dad that day,” said Gelner. “I knew they were with me and the rain just felt like their tears of joy.”

Gelner also trains In the Navy, owned by Kendel D. Standlee, who captured his fifth career win on August 4 in the $60,000 Louisiana Turf Cup Classic.

“He’s just a great turf horse,” said Gelner. “I am proud of the fact that he has won on each of the Louisiana turf courses.”

Both In The Navy and Yes Gorgeous will be pointed to Fair Grounds.

Gelner acknowledges the support of his owners, including Robbie and Mark Norman, Kendel Standlee, Red Rose Racing and Ty Smith for A.J. Foyt.

“Owners and good help are important to be successful in racing,” stated Gelner.

Gelner is currently the eighth-leading trainer at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. Purses were increased by $2,000 a race, effective September 8 through the end of the meet, and Gelner expressed his appreciation.

“It’s a big help,” he stated. “Louisiana Downs has stepped up to help the horsemen. We appreciate their efforts, for sure.”

The growth of Gelner’s stable this year has been significant and 2018 is on track to be the most fruitful since he branched out on his own in 2006.

Born in Cameron, Texas, Gelner and his wife, Felicia reside in Lafayette, Louisiana with their three children.

He pauses to reflect on this year and how he will manage his growing operation.

“Quite honestly, I trust in God,” he said. “He has always guided me in the right direction. Faith in God and the love of my family is what keeps me on track.”

 

 Trainer, Jockey and Owner Standings

As of September 10, Karl Broberg tops the trainer standings with 23 wins. Last year’s leading trainer, Joey Foster is on a roll with 21 winners. Al Stall, Jr. follows with 20 victories and  Jorge Lara has saddled 17 winners this meet.

Emanuel Nieves tops the rider standings with 67 wins, but last year’s leading jockey Gerardo Mora has been steadily making his way up the ladder and is now in second place with 64 victories.

Joel Dominguez is third with 61 trips to the winner’s circle and Hector Del-Cid and Richard Eramia have each won 38 races.

Dream Walkin Farms, Inc. and End Zone Athletics, Inc. are tied for leading owner honors with 13 wins. Patti Turner is next with 12 victories and Beverly Burress and Indian Creek Thoroughbred Farms, LLC follow with eight wins each.

 

Diego Saenz Approaching his 2,000th Career Win

Jockey Diego Saenz is just 11 wins away from his 2,000th career victory. The 39-year-old rider won four of the seven features on the Super Derby card. He piloted Limation for owner Michael Langford in the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby, which was the first graded stakes of his career.

Saenz is named on six horses this week. Once the Harrah’s Louisiana Downs meet wraps, he will head to Delta Downs when their meet opens October 17. He has won four leading rider titles at the Vinton, Louisiana racetrack.

 

Wednesday and Saturday Race Day Promotions

Louisiana Downs offers value for racing fans each Wednesday with Dollar Day. They will be able to enjoy $1 hot dogs, $1 beer at the Paddock as well as $1 programs. Saturday’s weekly promotion is the Family Four Pack featuring four hot dogs, four sodas, a program, and a box seat for four at the affordable price of just $16.

 

The Total Rewards program is free for horseplayers. With the swipe of their card each Saturday, members will receive valuable incentives.  These include:

  • Play $250 or more to receive a 5X multiplier
  • Play $1,000 or more to receive a 7X multiplier
  • Play $5,000 or more to receive a 10X multiplier

Participant’s multiplier cannot exceed a total balance of more than one hundred thousand (100,000) Reward Credits during one promotional day after the multiplier is applied.

 

 

Post Times and Stakes Schedule

Live racing will be conducted Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday with a 3:15 p.m.(Central) post time through September 26.

 

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.

 

Lone Star Special Moving to Cherokee Ridge Farm in Carencro

 

lone-star-special-copyAfter standing at The Horse Of Course in Benton Louisiana since 2016, Lone Star Special is moving to Cherokee Ridge Farm in Carencro for the 2019 breeding season in order to be more centrally located for Louisiana Breeders.

Lone Star Special (Malabar Gold-Sunshine Special) is an Unbridled line stallion who is among an elite number of stallions that moves his mare up. Only 32 % of all sires have a lifetime AEI higher than their mares CI. Lone Star Special has an AEI of 1.49 vs his mare’s CI of 1.11. His statistics of 66% winners, $71,209 average earnings per starter, 16% blacktype horses and 17% two-year-old winners, compete with leading national sires.

Lone Star Special is the sire of two Graded Stakes horses, both accredited Louisiana-breds.

Recently retired to the breeding shied, G2 Super Derby winner Mobile Bay ran from ages three to six, hitting the board in 21 of 29 lifetime starts. He won eleven stakes, often showing speed in route races of 1 1/16 to 1 1/8 miles, including the G2 Super Derby, open company stakes such as the Sunland Park Handicap, the Maxxam Gold Cup and the Zia Park Derby, as well Louisiana Bred Stakes including the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at the Fair Grounds twice.  He placed in another five stakes including the G3 Oklahoma Derby. His Lifetime earnings of $1,246,440 rank him 4th among all-time Leading Accredited Louisiana Bred Runners. A multiple Accredited Louisiana Bred Champion, Mobile Bay was named 2015 3YO Colt or Gelding and Horse of the Year, 2016 Older Male and Horse of the Year, and 2017 Older Male.

Multiple stakes winner, Wheatfield ran 2nd in the ’17 G2 Inside Information Stakes at Gulfstream. She was named 2016 4YO & Up Louisiana Bred Champion Filly or Mare. She has earned black type in 11 stakes events, many against open company, and currently has $391,603 in lifetime earnings.

While changing locations to Bill Langford’s Cherokee Ridge Farm in Carencro, Lone Star Special’s 2019 fee will remain reasonable at $2,500 according to owner, Tigertail Ranch’s Irwin Olian. 

“From a very small group of foals, Lone Star Special has done remarkably well.  He has demonstrated the ability to throw runners capable of competing at the national level in Graded Stakes as well as other highly professional runners including four other stakes horses,” says Tigertail Ranch’s Irwin Olian. “His ability to move up his mares puts him in very rare company among Louisiana sires and suggests there will be a lot more good things to come from him in the future”

“We are grateful for the excellent work that John Doherty has done managing Lone Star Special in north Louisiana, but feel it is important to expose him to a broader group of mares in central and south Louisiana.  We are very excited about moving him to Cherokee Ridge Farm where he will be under the able management of Bill Langford. We hope Louisiana breeders will recognize the unique opportunity that Lone Star Special represents to get a top class racehorse and support him as he deserves.”

Equine Sales Company Posts Big Gains for Consignor Select Sale

Equine Sales Company’s Consignor Select Yearling Sale, held Thursday, September 6, in Opelousas, Louisiana, recorded significant increases in gross sales and average price compared to last year’s auction, which itself posted big increases over the prior year. All told, 150 of 206 yearlings sold this year for a total of $1,949,900 with an average of $12,999 and median of $6,000. A total of 138 of 193 head sold last year.
This year’s figures marked an 19.2% increase in gross sales from last year’s $1,636,400 and a 9.6% jump in average from $11,858. This year’s median of $6,000 was down from last year’s $7,000, and this year’s buyback rate was 27.2% compared to 28.5% last year.
“We had a very strong sale last year, so we were extremely pleased to exceed those numbers this year,” said Foster Bridewell, sales director. “The fact that we had 10 horses go for $50,000 or more proves that our consignors really brought some quality stock and that our buyers stepped up to get those individuals.
“There’s a lot of money to run for in Louisiana, and Louisiana-breds have proven again and again that they can win anywhere, most recently with Classy John, who sold here as a 2-year-old for $12,000, winning an $85,000 maiden special at Saratoga last month by daylight.”
The sale was highlighted by two Louisiana-bred colts who hit six figures, topped by a February foal from the first crop of multiple Grade 1 winner Palace. Consigned by 4M Ranch, agent, the colt went to J. Stevens Bloodstock, agent, for $105,000. He is out of the winning Kafwain mare Sheer Speed, whose first starter, by Redding Colliery, is a two-time winner.
Close behind the sale-topper was a March foal by Grade 1 winner and first-crop sire Lea who sold for $100,000 from Red River Farm, agent, to Carl Moore Management LLC. The colt is out the unraced Corinthian daughter Beat the Street, who is the dam of four winners from as many to race including stakes winner Kylie’s Cutie and stakes-placed Blue Ribbon Girl.
Full results of the sale are available at www.equinesalescompany.com.

Purse Increase Announced for the Final Three Weeks of the 2018 HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS Thoroughbred Meet

harrahs logo

Bossier City, LA – Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is pleased to announce its third purse increase of the 2018 Thoroughbred racing season. Effective Saturday, September 8, an additional $2,000 will be added for all races published in the condition book.  

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs had previously acknowledged an increase in overnight race purses which went into effect on June 30.  All overnight races, up to and including $12,500, were increased by $1,500. All other purses were raised by $1,000.  On July 19, purses for each of the six stakes for accredited Louisiana-breds on Louisiana Cup Day were increased by $10,000. That announcement was made in partnership with the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA). 

“Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is pleased to announce a purse increase for the remainder of the 2018 Thoroughbred meet,” said David Heitzmann, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Directory of Racing. “Our Louisiana horsemen have been extremely loyal and steadfast in their support of our live racing season. We are glad to be able to reward them and create added opportunities for Louisiana racing.” 

The 84-day Thoroughbred meet began on Saturday, May 5 and will continue through Wednesday, September 26.  Live racing takes place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday with a 3:15 p.m. (Central) post time. For more information on the current racing season and special events, visit https://www.caesars.com/harrahs-louisiana-downs/racing. 

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. 

Harrah's rainbow
Hodges Photography

Sports Wagering Symposium Outlines Changing Landscape

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In a gravelly voice that clearly has spent many hours cheering teams and horses, race and sports book legend Victor Salerno offered racing some verbal encouragement as it prepares for fast-emerging legal sports wagering.

Salerno, a 40-year veteran of the race and sports book industry in Nevada, offered that encouragement at the Sports Wagering and Impact on Horse Racing Symposium presented by BloodHorse and Breeders’ Cup Sept. 6 at Keeneland. Three panels at the symposium outlined the opportunities and potential challenges for racing, as legal sports wagering comes online throughout the country. Racing relies on pari-mutuel wagering as its economic engine.

“You shouldn’t be afraid to do this,” Salerno said of tracks also offering sports wagering, noting tracks that do so will increase their foot traffic, providing opportunities to reach new customers. “Racing’s a great sport; we have to keep it going.”

At the three-hour presentation, panelists touched on wide-ranging topics related to sports wagering, including the benefits and challenges of offering sports wagering at tracks; opportunities for current advance-deposit wagering companies to expand to sports wagering or partner with sports wagering sites to cross-promote one another; an opportunity for racing to provide needed content for wagering in this new environment; the addition of non-pari-mutuel wagers in racing, like fixed-odds bets; and challenges that could include a competitive disadvantage as high-takeout racing in an atmosphere where low-takeout sports betting will be readily available.

Monmouth Park vice president of business operations Bill Knauf offered some firsthand experience since the New Jersey track brought in William Hill to operate on-track sports wagering in June. Knauf said the sports betting crowd is largely male and younger than the typical horseplayer. He noted the sports betting crowd has helped the track improve its simulcast handle as bettors are showing up early and staying late to watch West Coast baseball games.

Knauf said tracks have plenty of available parking, interior space that readily can be used to build first-rate sports books, and through their simulcast operations are familiar with bringing in multiple TV signals. He noted tracks routinely offer more such signals than even a Las Vegas sportsbook.

Panelist Victor Bigio, an online gaming marketer at Sportech, said tracks also have the space to host eSports events that are quickly gaining in popularity with young people. He said tracks should take advantage and offer those events and accept wagers on them.

Many states soon will be making these decisions. Beyond the three racing states that have already launched full sports wagering this year—New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia—Sara Slane of the American Gaming Association noted another 19 states have had bills proposed.

William Hill U.S. executive Dan Shapiro noted the planning that went into Monmouth has produced a facility where sports betting and race betting are well-integrated. He said a sports betting facility at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is in the casino and separated from racing. He thinks the Monmouth model has a better chance of success for both sports wagering and race handle.

“What Monmouth has done with that integrated experience is the model we think tracks should look at in the future,” Shapiro said.

Just hours after TVG (FanDuel Group) announced Thursday plans to add a pair of Sunday morning shows that will largely focus on betting the NFL, FanDuel Group general counsel John Hindman said that variety should bring a more diverse group to the racing channel and its various sports and race wagering platforms.

He said the FanDuel platform will market race wagering, noting it will be presented in a way that will make sense to sports bettors. He also noted the benefits of cross-marketing—millions of dollars have been spent promoting FanDuel, initially a Daily Fantasy site, in recent years.

One aspect of betting sports those customers understand, on some level, is takeout in the 5% or 6% range. Ed Hannah of The Stronach Group said with those expectations, racing will need to thoroughly examine its much higher takeout (the amount of money not returned to bettors in winnings, which in racing is retained largely for tracks and purses) as it tries to attract new customers and retain current players.

“Lesson No. 1 is the takeout rate is too high. We need to figure out a more optimal takeout rate,” Hannah said. “There’s a little more wiggle room on multi-race or multi-interest wagers.”

He noted that in the online atmosphere, sports bettors will quickly notice the difference.

“People putting money in their deposits will notice that difference,” Hannah said, explaining that because of takeout, the average sports bettor can make a $100 deposit last much longer than the average horseplayer. “We have to do a lot of thinking about (takeout).”

Sports betting faces its own battle for customers, many of whom currently wager through illegal bookmakers, local or offshore. Panelists noted that one way legal operators will be able to compete is by offering a greater variety of wagers and events. They said the frequency of races, offered throughout the week, should prove attractive to sports betting sites.

Hindman noted that race wagering routinely is one of the top sports in terms of handle in other countries that already allow sports wagering.

While panelists offered a wide variety of opinions and ideas, all acknowledged the fast-changing landscape and racing’s need to be innovative rather than shrink away.

“We can take (the emergence of sports wagering) and put it toward the enhancement of the racing industry here,” Salerno said. “Don’t be afraid.”

Jed Doro Named Director of Racing at Oaklawn

October 6, 2018

Oaklawn announced today the hiring of Jerome “Jed” Doro as Director of Racing. Jed will start the week of September 24.

Doro comes to Oaklawn from Delaware Park where he has spent the last 10 years. He was named that track’s Racing Secretary in 2014 after serving as Assistant Racing Secretary to Pat Pope, who is also Oaklawn’s longtime Racing Secretary. Doro had previously assisted Pope with Oaklawn condition books and he served as Assistant Director of Racing during the 2014 race season. Doro, who has several family members in racing, got his start working as a hot walker in 1998 in the barn of trainer Tony Dutrow. His first job in a racing office came at Colonial Downs and he held a variety of positions at the Maryland Jockey Club including claims clerk and paddock judge before moving to Delaware Park.

“We’re delighted to have Jed and welcome him back as a member of the Oaklawn family,” General Manager Wayne Smith said. “Jed’s background and experience will be a great addition as we continue to grow racing at Oaklawn. His hiring continues to strengthen an already great racing team. We couldn’t be more excited about our program as we move closer to racing in 2019. Remember, Stay Until May!”

“I couldn’t be more thrilled about getting back to Hot Springs and reacquainting myself with the track and horsemen,” Doro said. “I really enjoyed my time there in 2014 and it’s amazing how much the program has grown over the last few years. I’m looking forward to helping to continue that growth into the future. Oaklawn is one of the top racetracks in the country and one that is steeped in tradition. I’m honored to be part of the team.”

Doro and his wife, Tiffany, have two daughters, Dulaney and Baden.

The 2019 live season at Oaklawn begins Friday, Jan. 25 and runs through Saturday, May 4.

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