Fair Grounds Race Track Schedule & Layout

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Fair Grounds Race Track


Fair Grounds Race Track is the third oldest race track in North America, and has been hosting horse racing events since 1872. Located in the mid-city area of New Orleans, it is warmly referred to as New Orleans Fair Grounds. The race track is conveniently situated about 10 minutes from the Central Business District and French Quarter and 20 minutes from New Orleans International Airport.

In true Louisiana racing tradition, the track offers not only first-class thoroughbred stakes, such as the Louisiana Derby, but also slot betting, making it a winner's paradise.

Race Track Layout

The track features a dirt oval track with a total circumference of one mile, as well as a seven-furlong turf course. One mile races start and finish at the sixteenth pole to prevent a short run towards the first turn. The distance from the last turn to the finish line measures 1.346 feet.


History of Fair Grounds Race Track

  • Founded in 1852 as the Union Race Course, the race track was forced to shut after just five years, due to stiff competition from the Metairie Course.
  • In 1859 the track reopened, this time as the ‘Creole Race Course’.
  • It became officially known as Fair Grounds in 1863, with the first race taking place in 1872.
  • Under the gambling regulation of New Orleans, the track was forced to terminate horse racing from 1908 to 1915.
  • Later on, in 1919, disaster struck the race track when a fire destroyed the grandstand.
  • By 1971, Fair Grounds had experienced enough track highlights to open its own ‘Hall of Fame’. William Lee Shoemaker, Marion H. Van Berg and John Letellier were some of the first jockeys and prominent names in horse racing to be inducted alongside thoroughbred champions Tenacious, Tippity Witchet and Monarchist.
  • In 2004,Churchill Downs Incorporated took on ownership of the track and providing new investment for development.
  • Following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina a new grandstand and clubhouse were opened in 1997.


Highlights at Fair Grounds Race Course

There are two main live racing seasons, a Quarter Horse meet in September and then the Thoroughbred meet, which traditionally begins on Thanksgiving Day and runs through to late March. The full 2017-2018 racing schedule will be ready to view on the official website soon. The three main highlights of the racing season are the Thanksgiving Handicap in November, the Risen Star Stakes in February and the Louisiana Derby in March.


Thanksgiving Handicap

Each year on Thanksgiving Day a feast of turkey and racing is served up as guests get in the Thanksgiving spirit and place generous bets for the nine-furlong race. This Fair Grounds tradition has been running since 1912, making horse racing an integral part of Thanksgiving for the people of New Orleans.


Risen Star Stakes

The Risen Star Stakes was originally called the Louisiana Derby Trial Stakes, but in 1989 it was renamed to honor the locally-owned Risen Star racehorse who won the race in 1988 and later went on to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. This race is open to three-year-old horses and is run over a distance of 1 1/16 miles on a dirt track. A Grade II race, it currently offers a purse of $400,000. The race is recognised as the major prep race before the Louisiana Derby.

Louisiana Derby

The biggest race on the calendar each year is undoubtedly the Louisiana Derby which is run in late March. The Louisiana Derby usually features contenders running for the roses only a few weeks later at Churchill Downs. The Louisiana Derby is a Grade II American thoroughbred horse race open to horses aged three years and has a  1 1⁄8 mile distance,  (9-furlongs) run on a dirt track.



Entertainment and Dining

Guests can opt to dine in the luxury of Fair Grounds' Clubhouse dining room, where strictly formal attire is required or they can take their pick from one of the grab-and-go eateries, the DeSaix Deli and Gentilly Grill. A variety of concession stands are also available during the live racing season, featuring a selection of New Orleans cuisine.

Starlight Racing is offered on one Friday of each month, during which the traditional afternoon racing programs are moved to the evening. As well as the usual racing, a party atmosphere prevails, with drinks being served and live DJ’s. The introduction of Starlight Racing has turned the race track into a popular New Orleans night spot.

Bets for races at Fair Grounds race course can be placed at Mywinners.com.

Featured Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Track

Thanksgiving Handicap

Continuing a long-standing tradition at the track, the Thanksgiving Day handicap invites racing fans and leisure seekers to experience the true spirit of thanksgiving at Fair Grounds. Ever since 1912, they've made horse racing an integral part of Thanksgiving. On November 26, 2015, come and put your best foot forward as you enjoy the day's highlight $60 000 stakes race, accompanied by a dinner buffet at the Clubhouse. Post time is at 11:00 am.

Louisiana Champions Day

Considered as Louisiana's rendering of the Breeders' Cup, the Louisiana Champions Day brings together the top Thoroughbreds to compete in the stakes that carry a total purse of $1.1 million. Three Quarter Horse and eight Thoroughbred races will lead up to the day's highlight – the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic. Post time is at 12:30pm.

Santa Super Saturday Stakes

With six open stakes worth $330,000, Christmas definitely arrives early at the Fair Grounds Race Track. This year's lineup for the Santa Super Saturday Stakes include the Tenacious Stakes, the Blushing KD, the Buddy Dilliberto, the Sugarbowl Overnight Stakes, the Letellier Overnight Stakes, and the Tiffany Lass overnight stakes. Come and place your bet on your favorite equine star; who knows, your Christmas wish may just come true! First post is at 1:25 pm

Louisiana Derby

eight spectacular stakes, headlined by the $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby, ends the racing season at the Fair Grounds race track. As a local Kentucky Derby prep race, competition in the Louisiana Derby will be tough as it awards the winner 100 points in the Kentucky Derby Championship series. The Derby is now a big part of local culture, so expect an event where gamblers and socialites rub shoulders, and where high stakes and high fashion will make it a day full of splendor.