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Delta Downs Racetrack will begin its 2015 American Quarter Horse season Wednesday night. The 46-day meeting runs through July 11 and will feature live programs on a Wednesday through Saturday basis with first post times scheduled for 6:15 pm CT each night.
The first week of the season will feature two stakes races and some of the most important time trials of the year. On Wednesday night the track will host the $50,000 John Alleman Memorial (RG3) for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds and up competing at 350 yards. Thursday's card will include the $25,000 Delta Dash for older horses traveling 250 yards.
The first time trials of the season will take place on Friday and Saturday night. Friday's action will be headed by the $75,000-added Louisiana Lassie Futurity trials and on Saturday night the $75,000-added Louisiana Laddie Futurity trials will take center stage. The finals for the Lassie and Laddie will take place on May 15 and 16 respectively.
Another important set of stakes dates this season include July 3 and 4 when the track will host the richest open-bred stakes activity of the season. On July 3 fans will be treated to the $100,000-added Firecracker Derby for 3-year-olds and on Independence Day, July 4 the main event will be the $100,000-added Firecracker Futurity.
The racing season will wrap up at Delta Downs on July 11 with another edition of Louisiana Showcase Night, which features eight stakes races for Louisiana-bred horses and the richest race of the season, the Lee Berwick Futurity (RG1). Last year's Lee Berwick marked the richest Quarter Horse race in the track's 41-year history with a purse of $645,645. The race was won by Joseph Landreneau's gelding Game.
Some of the nation's top horsemen and women will be back at Delta Downs this season. Jockey John Hamilton will attempt to win his fourth consecutive riding title while Kenneth Roberts, Sr. will bring another strong barn to Vinton in search of his seventh local trainer title and fourth in a row. Joan Rood won her first leading owner title at Delta Downs last year and is expected to vie for the same position in 2015.
Delta Downs opened in September, 1973 under the direction of Lee Berwick. Berwick was primarily looking for a recognized facility to run Quarter Horses, having earlier held races on his farm in St. Joseph, Louisiana. Delta Downs in Vinton would hold both Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred race meetings, some years in a mixed format. In the 1990s, the track was bought by developer Shawn Scott for $10 million. Shortly thereafter, it was sold for over $100 million to Boyd Gaming after a law was passed allowing for slot machines at Delta Downs. After the purchase, Boyd Gaming made over $120 million in capital improvements. The casino, hotel and track were badly damaged by Hurricane Rita in 2005; the casino and hotel were partially opened two months later. The track was closed for about six months after the hurricane. Fueled by revenue from the slots casino, the quality of racing at Delta Downs has improved. The winter Thoroughbred meeting has produced several stakes-quality horses in recent years.
The track is a 6 furlongs (1.2 km) oval. There is a 550 yards (0.50 km) Quarter-Horse chute, in addition to a five-furlong (1km) and 1 1/16-mile Thoroughbred chute. The track surface is a mixture of sand (from the Sabine River) and clay, with a limestone base. The track has stabling for 1200 horses. The Delta Downs grounds features horse pastures which are visible from the entrance. Draft and miniature horses and Thoroughbreds are on display. The Quarter Horse Red River Rebel, owned by Malcom Chiasson, holds the track record as of 2011; he is also the leading money-winning Quarter Horse in Louisiana.Delta Downs Race Track Info
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