Louisiana Downs Opens January 23

Louisiana Downs Opens January 23

Louisiana racetrack will run its 46-day meet through April 7.

Louisiana Downs morning works - photo credit Hodges Photography

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The 2021 Quarter Horse racing season at Louisiana Downs gets underway on Saturday, January 23. The 46-day meet runs through Wednesday, April 7, with a 1 p.m. (Central) post time for Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.  

Louisiana Downs has the distinction of hosting the first official futurity of the year, the $100,000-added Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2), which will take place on Saturday, March 27. Additional stakes include the $50,000-added Mardi Gras Derby, also on March 27 and the $75,000-added Harrah’s Futurity, which will be contested on April 3.

Louisiana Downs will also offer schooling races for 2-year-olds paid into the Mardi Gras Futurity on February 12 as well as the Harrah’s Futurity on February 19.  

Horseman Jose Carrizales had a breakthrough year in 2020, beginning at Louisiana Downs, where he won 23 races to claim his first career training title.

The 24-year-old conditioner saddled his first stakes winner last January when Fantasicazoom Jr, captured the 250-yard Harrah’s Dash. Owned by Juan J. Bazaldua and Jesus E. Del Bosque of J & J Racing LLC, the son of Fantastic Corona Jr. was ridden by Ricardo Hernandez, Jr. 

But it was SS Classyjess, owned by Edgar Rosales, who became the star of the Carrizales barn. Now 6-years-old, the daughter of Rock Solid Jess began her 2020 campaign with a runner-up finish in the Harrah’s Stakes before triumphing in the Swift Stakes on January 25. She won the Miss Retama and Live Oak Stakes at Retama Park and captured the Nevill and Yellow Rose of Texas at Lone Star Park. The intrepid mare returned to Louisiana to cap off her year with a gate-to-wire victory in the Sam’s Town Stakes at Evangeline Downs on December 12.

Carrizales has tremendous pride in SS Classyjess, won has won 12 career races with stakes victories at four different racetracks.

“She is amazing,” stated Carrizales. “She is small, but very quick, and really knows how to take care of herself. You don’t get horses like this very often and we are very proud of her.”

Carrizales has a farm in Kaufman, Texas, and is ready for the 2021 Louisiana Downs meet.

“Getting the leading trainer title in Bossier City really helped us,” he added. “I have some new owners as a result of our success, including seven 2-year-olds paid into the Mardi Gras Futurity.”
 
Returning conditioners include Vann Haywood, who finished second in the standings last year with 14 wins; Lanny Keith, Trey Ellis, Jose Barron, Martin Trejo, Robi Meche, Kenneth Roberts, Sr, Anthony Arey, Michael Zingelmann and Jose Sanchez, III, who won the 2020 Mardi Gras Futurity with El Camino CL.

Rosendo Valdez, Jr. is looking forward to the upcoming racing season as well. He trains for his father, Rosendo Valdez, who won the leading owner title last month at Evangeline Downs.

“My family lives in Texas, but we love racing in Louisiana,” said Rosendo Valdez, Jr. “(Former jockey) Ray Mayo got us involved and we enjoy working with him. He congratulated us on winning the owner title at Evangeline Downs and we hope to get off to a good start here.”

Last year’s leading rider, Ricardo Hernandez, Jr. will be prominent, once again, as first call rider for the Carrizales barn. He won 34 races here last year before breaking his wrist at Delta Downs and missing several months of action. David Alvarez finished the Louisiana Downs meet in second place with 29 wins, before soaring as the top nation’s Quarter Horse jockey with 111 victories throughout 2020. The competitive jockey colony will also include 2019 leading rider, Everardo Rodriguez and his younger brothers, Jose and Leo. 

Another jockey to watch will be Juan Garcia, Jr., who had his best year ever, winning 83 races and eclipsing the $1 million mark in earning for the first time since he began riding in 2011. He credits his sister, Wendy Garcia, brother in-law (jockey) Modesto Pina as well as trainer Trey Ellis for their support.  Garcia won the 2018 Mardi Gras Futurity aboard Guidry Pride II, who is trained by his sister. That victory has a special place in his heart.

“It was wonderful,” recalled Garcia. “Nothing is more important than family and we all believe in each other! Wendy and Modesto always say hard work pays off in the end and that is very true! Last year, Trey helped me so much and I am very grateful to him as well.”

Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing. 

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