NEW ORLEANS (Sunday, December 13, 2009) – A year and a day after Fair Grounds cancelled a racing program due to a rare snowfall in New Orleans, the Crescent City’s 2009 Louisiana Champions Day program was aborted midway through its 19th running Saturday due to torrential rains. That storm eventually resulted in the loss of Sunday’s program as well due to track conditions.

The decision to cancel Sunday’s races was made by the Fair Grounds’ stewards at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning and subsequently announced by state steward Roy Wood, who explained that the Sunday cancellation would allow Fair Grounds track personnel more time to make sure the track would be in top condition for Monday’s races.

Despite such unforeseen winter occurrences, can spring in New Orleans be far behind?

Horsemen throughout the nation, as well as Fair Grounds’ faithful fans, are reminded that Early Bird nominations for the Grade II Louisiana Derby Presented by Miller Lite close Monday with a $500 early bird nomination fee while final nominations for the 2010 Louisiana Derby close March 13 for a $750 fee.

With its increased purse of $750,000 and its new distance of nine furlongs, the 97th running of the Louisiana Derby will be run March 27, five weeks before the Kentucky Derby. A nomination to the Louisiana Derby also serves as a nomination to the first two races on the Road to the Derby series – the Grade III $100,000 Lecomte Stakes Jan. 23 and the Grade III $300,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 20.

Postponed Louisiana Champions Day Races Set for Santa Super Saturday

Fair Grounds has also announced that the four postponed stakes races from the Champions Day card will be run on Saturday in addition to the five stakes scheduled as part of the Santa Super Saturday program of Dec. 19.

The Champions Day races will not be redrawn but remain as they were – including two late scratches – while the rest of the Santa Super Saturday program will be drawn Monday.

Early First Post Friday and Saturday

Due to the cancellation of Sunday’s racing, Fair Grounds will add races to its Friday and Saturday programs and set first post a half-hour earlier on each day. First post for Friday’s 12-race card is 12:30 p.m. and first post for Saturday’s 13-race program is noon.

Santa Super Saturday Probables Include War Echo, Euroears, Aegean

The inaugural running of Saturday’s $100,000 Daily Racing Form Distaff for fillies and mares at 1 1/8-miles over Fair Grounds’ main track was originally designed to serve as the centerpiece attraction of a five-stakes Santa Super Saturday program prior to the brief Christmas break at the Crescent City oval.

However, with the postponement of four Louisiana Champions Day stakes last weekend at Fair Grounds – three worth $100,000 and a fourth with a purse of $150,000 – due to the inclement weather in New Orleans, the total number of stakes races to be offered is now up to nine for the Santa Super Saturday program.

That’s because last weekend’s four postponed Louisiana Champions Day races will be contested as they were originally drawn but one week later. The $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf, the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint and the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint comprise that list of rescheduled races.

Now add to that group Saturday’s first running of the Daily Racing Form Distaff, a race that is expected to include last February’s Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes heroine War Echo, owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds and conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen.

Those projected to face War Echo include Charles Miller’s Final Refrain, runner up in Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Blushing K. D. Handicap Nov. 6; Pin Oak Stable’s No Use Denying, 10-length winner of Delaware Park’s $75,000 John Rooney Memorial last June; Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust’s Distinctive Dixie, coming off a winning effort at Churchill Nov. 15; and Jim Tafel’s Fighter Wing, coming off a winning race at Hawthorne on Oct. 10.

Considered as a possible starter in the Daily Racing Form Distaff is Robert Adams’ Unforgotten, heroine of Delta’s $125,000 Treasure Chest Dec. 4, as is Georgia Small’s Why Wonder Why, a 7 1/2-length victress in her last start at Remington Nov. 22.

Saturday’s 56th running of the $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds for 2-year-olds at six furlongs will probably include L. T. B. Inc’s Vito Filitto, second beaten less than two in Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Old Hickory Nov. 7; Padua Stables’ Enumerate, third a length farther back in that same test; Winmore’s Cool Bullet, a winner here Nov. 14; Columbus Circle Partners’ Instant Message, a winner in his last start at Turfway Sept. 26; and Heflin and Driver Racing’s North of Alaska, a winner at Fair Grounds Nov. 8.

Slated for Saturday’s 50th renewal of the $60,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs is Steven Michael Bell’s Aegean, winner of Churchill’s Grade III Kentucky Cup Juvenile last April; Christopher Bardasian’s Right to Rule, heroine of Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Pontalba Stakes Nov. 7; Windmill Manor Farm’s My Jen, undefeated in two starts in Kentucky in October; Dogwood Stable’s Snap Happy, a winner of her last at Turfway after disappointing in Saratoga’s Grade I Spinaway last summer; and Martin Cherry’s Visavis, who broke her maiden by 8 ½ lengths in her only start at Delaware last July.

Probable for Saturday’s $60,000 Esplanade Stakes for fillies and mares at 5 1/2-furlongs is Ace Thoroughbreds’ Hotlantic, a winner of Remington’s $50,000 Top Corsage Stakes last June; Padua Stables’ Juliet’s Spirit, victress in Charles Town’s $100,000 Lady Charles Town Stakes last June; Ron Winchell’s Simplify, winner of Saratoga’s $70,000 Loudonville last September; and Ranio Investments’ Sumthingtotalkabt, a four-length winner of her last start a Churchill Nov. 15.

Finally, this Saturday’s fourth running of the $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course at five and a half furlongs is expected to attract James and Marilyn Helzer’s Euroears, winner of Fair Grounds $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap last month and winner of Fair Grounds’ $100,000 F. W. Gaudin Memorial, $100,000 Colonel Power Stakes and $200,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes in 2008.

Others likely for the Bonapaw include Sam-Son Farm’s Grand Adventure; Mimicry Partnership’s Grand Traverse, Mike McCarty’s Storm Treasure and Walts David Stable’s Turfiste – all of whom are veteran stakes campaigners.