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Jul 01, 2011

Sunday running for Louisiana Derby


New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - The $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds Race Course for the first time in eight years will be conducted on a Sunday. The Kentucky Derby stepping stone will be held on Sunday, April 1, 2012, the closing program of the track's season.

The 99th edition of the 1 1/8-mile race will take place the day before the NCAA Men's Basketball Finals at nearby Louisiana Superdome.

"The 2012 Final Four presents a unique opportunity for Fair Grounds to show off world-class racing to tens of thousands of out-of-state visitors in New Orleans that weekend," said Fair Grounds Vice President and General Manager Eric Halstrom. "If ever there were a time for a sports fan to make their first visit to our storied racetrack this would be it."

An important prep leading to the Kentucky Derby, the race has produced three Run for the Roses winners: 1924 winner Black Gold, 1996 winner Grindstone and 2003 third-place finisher Funny Cide. This year's 98th Louisiana Derby was won by Pants On Fire, a stablemate of Belmont Stakes champ Ruler On Ice.

Owners and trainers who will have their three-year-olds race at the Fair Grounds in preparation for the 2012 Kentucky Derby will have added incentives.

The Lecomte Stakes, part of the track's three-race series for three-year-olds, will have a purse boost from $100,000 to $175,000. The mile and 70 yards event is scheduled for Saturday, January 21. The $300,000 Risen Star Stakes has been set for Saturday, February 25.

"We're out to attract the highest quality horses we can and the most straightforward way to do that is to offer them more money," said Racing Secretary Jason Boulet.

Fair Grounds' 140th racing season will run from November 24 to April 1, 2012 with 84 programs.

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