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Louisiana Derby

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About the Louisiana Derby

The Louisiana Derby is a Grade II prep race along the Road to the Kentucky Derby. It is annually hosted at Fair Grounds Race Track and currently offers a sizeable purse of $1 million dollars. Typically run in late March, the Louisiana Derby also provides the top-four finishers 100-40-20-10 derby points for entry in to the first leg of the Triple Crown. This remains one of the longest running and storied competitions in the history of American Thoroughbred racing.

Only two winners from the Louisiana Derby have won the Kentucky Derby. Black and Gold was the first to accomplish this feat, having done so in 1924. The most recent horse to accomplish this feat was Grindstone, who did so in 1996. Another famous Louisiana Derby winner is Risen Star, who would go on to win the 1988 Preakness and Belmont Stakes as well. Master Derby, winner of the 1975 Preakness Stakes, also scored in the Louisiana Derby.

The very first running of the Louisiana Derby was held at Crescent City Race Course in 1894, but the race was named the Crescent City Derby. The race was officially moved to the Fair Grounds and rebranded as the Louisiana Derby.   The only other track to host the Louisiana Derby is Jefferson Park, who held that honor for eleven years from 1920 through 1931.

Weather and outstanding circumstances have forced cancellations for the race. In 2006, Hurricane Katrina virtually destroyed New Orleans. There was also a period where the Louisiana Derby was not allowed to run from 1909 through 1919 because racing was illegal in the state.

The original and current distance of the Louisiana Derby is 1 1/8th miles. Clev Er Tell established the speed record for this distance in 1977, clocking a time of 1:42.60. From 1988 through 2009, the Louisiana Derby was run at a distance of 1 1/16th mile with Crypto Star achieved the speed record over that distance at 1:42.60 in 1997. In 2010, the Louisiana Derby returned to its original 1 1/8th mile distance.

Carolina A. (1947) and Grecian Princess (1964) are the only two fillies to win the Louisiana Derby. Bass Clef is the only gelding to have claimed victory in this race, having done so in the 1961 renewal.

More Derby History

The Louisiana Derby is one of the cornerstones of the newly developed Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race circuit. Hosted annually at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, Louisana since 1894, this race offers a $1 million purse. It attracts some of the finest runners in the south every single year.

Though the race was originally and currently run at 1 1/8th miles, it was contensted at 1 1/16th miles from 1988 to 2009. As such, there are two speed records for the Louisiana Derby. Clev Er Trail established a pace of 1:48.80 in the 1977 renewal while Crypto Star covered 1 1/16th miles in 1:42.60 in 1997.

Only two horse’s have won the Kentucky Derby after scoring in the Louisiana Derby. However, there are some other horse’s who have been truly magnificent coming out of this Fair Grounds classic.

  • Gun Runner won the 2016 Risen Star and Louisana Derby on his way to competing in the Kentucky Derby, where he placed third behind Nyquist and Exaggerator. Undaunted, this late bloomer would continue to compete. Most notably he has finished second at both the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the 2017 Dubai World Cup, and also won the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic as the second choice on the board.
  • Grindstone is the most recent horse to have secured a double victory in the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby, winning both races in 1996. Sadly, he retired after the first leg of the Triple Crown due to bone chips in his leg.
  • Risen Star would champion the 1988 Louisiana Derby, but finished third in the Kentucky Derby behind Winning Colors. He would rebound by striking in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Not bad for one of the most well regarded sons of Secretariat.
  • Golden Act deserves mention for his 1979 Louisiana Derby win. He would run third in the Kentucky Derby and place behind Spectacular Bid in both the Preakness and Belmont. Golden Act also won the Secretariat Stakes, Lawrence Realization Stakes, Canadian International Stakes and Arkansas Derby as a three-year-old.
  • Master Derby was masterful during his 1976 season, winning the Louisiana Derby, Lexington Stakes and Bleu Grass Stakes. He would lose to Foolish Pleasure in the Kentucky Derby, but win the Preakness before falling to third in the Belmont that year.
  • Black Gold was the first horse to win the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby, having done so in 1924. He would not race in the final two legs of the Triple Crown but went on to also win the Ohio Derby and Chicago Derby. He was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 1989.

Louisiana Derby Past Winners

3/24/18Noble Indy
3/26/16Gun Runner
3/28/15International Star
3/29/14Vicar’s in Trouble
4/1/12Hero of Order
3/26/11Pants On Fire
3/27/10Mission Impazible
3/14/09Friesan Fire
3/10/07Circular Quay
3/12/05High Limit
3/9/03Peace Rules
3/11/01Fifty Stars
3/14/99Kimberlite Pipe
3/15/98Comic Strip
3/16/97Crypto Star
3/20/93Dixieland Heat
3/21/92Line in the Sand
3/18/90Heaven Again
3/13/88Risen Star
3/15/87J. T.’s Pet
3/23/86Country Light
3/25/84Taylor’s Special
3/27/83Balboa Native
3/28/82El Baba
3/23/80Prince Valiant
3/18/79Golden Act
3/19/78Esops Foibles
3/20/77Clev Er Tell
3/20/76Johnny Appleseed