A victim of Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Derby, a major prep for the Kentucky Derby, will not be run in 2006.
The stakes schedule for the upcoming Fair Grounds-at-Harrah's Louisiana Downs 37-day meet was unveiled yesterday and it did not include three major races traditionally run at the Fair Grounds: the Louisiana Derby, the Fair Grounds Oaks and the Mervin Muniz.
Because of Hurricane Katrina, the Fair Grounds, which is in the city of New Orleans, will not operate a meet until, at the earliest, the fall of 2006. To make up for the lost dates, the Fair Grounds will conduct a short meet at Louisiana Downs, which is located near Shreveport, Louisiana and was not affected by the hurricane.
The Fair Grounds at Louisiana Downs meet will begin Nov. 19 and will conclude Jan. 22. The traditional Fair Grounds meet ran into late March and the Louisiana Derby was typically run in the middle of the month. Had Fair Grounds decided to run the Louisiana Derby in January, it is doubtful the track would have been able to lure a quality field.
The most significant race remaining on the 2005-2006 racing calendar for the Fair Grounds is the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, which will be run Jan. 7. The Risen Star, also a Kentucky Derby prep, will be run Jan. 14. A total of 34 stakes races will be run at the meet.