Delta Downs will open the doors on its 2013-14 Thoroughbred season Friday night. Regular post times during the 88-day stand will be at 5:45 p.m. (CT).
After opening the season with live programs Friday and Saturday night, the track will revert to its normal schedule of racing each Wednesday through Saturday until the meet concludes on March 15. The only exceptions to the schedule will come on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day: there will be no live racing on November 28 and December 25.
“We are so excited to get the new season underway,” said Steve Kuypers, Delta Downs vice president and general manager. “Our team members have welcomed back the horsemen with open arms and we’re ready to begin another tremendous season on Friday night.”
This year’s stakes schedule is one of the best in track history, featuring $4.6 million in purse money distributed over 32 races. The richest event of the season will take place on November 23 when the track hosts the 11th running of the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot.
In addition to the featured race on Jackpot Day, the track will also card seven other stakes races, including the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess and award a total of $2.2 million that afternoon. There is a special post time of 1:15 p.m. on Jackpot Day.
Another rich program will take place on February 1 when the track hosts Louisiana Premier Night. The annual event features 10 stakes races and more than $1 million in total purse money awarded to horses bred in the Bayou State.
Last year’s top horsemen are expected to return to Delta Downs and vie for top honors once again this year. Gerard Melancon, who won his third local riding title last year with 104 wins, will return to battle it out with past champions like Tracy Hebert and Diego Saenz. In the trainer ranks, Karl Broberg is the favorite to win his third title in a row after saddling 56 winners last year and taking top honors at Evangeline Downs this summer.
Fans may follow developments for the new Delta Downs season on the track’s website and through social media with Facebook and Twitter.
Delta Downs Wagering Highlights
Delta Downs 2013-2014 Meet
Dates: October 11 – March 15
Delta Downs Horse Racing Schedule:
Delta Downs Racetrack Information
Main track (dirt): 6 furlong oval with two chutes – a 550 yard chute (QH) and a 1 1/16 mile (TB)
Length of stretch: 660 feet
Width of stretch: 80 feet
Width of backstretch: 70 feet
Banking: Track is banked with a 5% rise down straight-a-way and 10% incline on turns
Composition: Mixture of sand (Sabine River) and clay with a limestone base
Bets available may include: Win, Place, Show, Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, Daily Double, Pick 3, and Pick 4.
About Delta Downs Racetrack
One million dollars. That’s become the benchmark for major purses in American thoroughbred racing, and horse enthusiasts were very happy to see Delta Downs rejoin the Million Dollar Club in 2010.
It’s been quite a ride. The Delta Downs Racetrack opened in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana in 1973 with a focus on Quarter Horses; founder Lee Berwick was also the president of the American Quarter Horse Association. Thoroughbreds would gain a more prominent role over the years – and so would slot machines.
Boyd Gaming took over operations in the 1990s after new gambling legislation was introduced, investing heavily in turning the facility into a racino and hotel complex. The revenues allowed Boyd Gaming to create the Delta Jackpot Stakes (8.5 furlongs, 2-year-olds) in 2002, and to bump the purse up to $1 million the following year. That makes the Delta Jackpot the second-richest race in America for 2-year-olds behind the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
However, then the recession hit. The purse was lowered to $750,000 in 2008, but two years later, the $1-million prize was restored. This is one of two Grade 3 stakes run every year at Delta Downs; the other is the $500,000 Princess Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Both events are held at the start of the thoroughbred racing season in November, and are run on Delta’s six-furlong dirt track (sand and clay, limestone base). Quarter Horses begin their season in April. You’ll be able to see both kinds of horses – along with draft and miniature horses – in the Delta pastures, which are visible from the entrance.