Fair Grounds season to end after Louisiana Derby day card

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After Fair Grounds runs its biggest card of the season on Saturday, it will cancel the remaining five days of its scheduled meet, multiple sources told the horse racing website Paulick Report on Saturday afternoon.

According to the report, a mass text was sent to trainers informing them of the decision to stop racing after Saturday’s scheduled card, which is headlined by the Grade II Louisiana Derby.

The Fair Grounds confirmed their decision later Saturday.

Sources told Crescent City Sports Friday that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the track was struggling to maintain a staff to operate the remainder of the meet.

During an emergency meeting of the Louisiana State Racing Commission held by teleconference on Friday, David Waguespack, an attorney representing Fair Grounds, told commission members, “Our track staff is waning.”

The LSRC approved an emergency order to force tracks to remain open for a minimum of 30 days and allow horses to shelter in place. Earlier in the week, Boyd Gaming – the operator of both Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs – had asked horsemen to remove their horses and staff from the grounds by Wednesday.

As part of the order, to minimize the stress on staff at tracks, training would only be allowed on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7-10 a.m., and official timed workouts would only be conducted on Saturdays.

Waguespack said Fair Grounds officials wanted to “diminish the density” of the human and equine  population on their backstretch and asked the commission to have Louisiana-based trainers relocate their stables to either Louisiana Downs or Evangeline Downs, who are scheduled to begin their Thoroughbred seasons in the next few weeks.

With the postponement earlier this week of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Fair Grounds’ backstretch could remain open longer than most years.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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