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Nov 18, 2005

Fair Grounds to open away from home


Bossier City, LA (Sports Network) - The 134th year of thoroughbred racing at the Fair Grounds of New Orleans will take place Saturday at Louisiana Downs near Shreveport.

Damage from Hurricane Katrina forced the historic racetrack to close this year.

Along with the move of more than 300 miles to the northwest, the biggest difference will be the abbreviated season and the shortened stakes schedule. Historically, the Fair Grounds has been an important stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby.

Missing this year from the Derby prep schedule is the Louisiana Derby. Among the winners of the race was 1996 Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone.

This is not the first time that disaster has affected racing at the Fair Grounds. The grandstand was destroyed by fire in December, 1993. Until 1997, tents and temporary facilities were used during the race meets.

The $400,000 Louisiana Handicap for older horses is the featured stakes race. The top race for three-year-olds will be the $200,000 Risen Star Stakes, the traditional final prep race for the Louisiana Derby.

The abbreviated meet runs through January 22.

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