LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen October  20, 2017

HALFWAY MARK OF THE YEAR AND MUCH MORE TO COME!

The first five months of 2017 have flown by filled with many exciting racing highlights and notable accomplishments. The Louisiana Downs Quarter Horse meet produced two exceptional futurity winners and no weather-related mishaps; a huge relief after the flooding in 2016. Delta Downs is off to a great start in their live season with high-level competition from both juveniles and seasoned veterans.

On April 8, the second LQHBA Hall of Fame class was inducted and the 2016 champions were saluted in a very memorable evening. But perhaps the greatest highlight of the first half of the year was the tremendous unified effort by all Louisiana horsemen in defeating HB 585. When the word got out that the passage of the bill would have a devastating impact on purses, LQHBA members called, wrote and worked in unison to ensure that their legislators shut it down.

There is so much on tap for the remainder of 2017 so this edition of the LQHBA "Insider" takes a look ahead for the months to come.

Nungesser and Louisiana Tourism

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser has been a tremendous supporter of Louisiana racing and on May 20, Nungesser joined forces with the Louisiana Office of Tourism to announce an important initiative.

A new Louisiana Horse Tourism program was unveiled with leaders from the state’s horse industry uniting to show the positive impact that the equestrian industry has made on the state’s economy. Nungesser, who has made several appearances at major racing events in Louisiana, spoke with enthusiasm about the new program.

"The horse industry remains a top ten Louisiana agriculture business, which generates more than $2 billion a year," he said. This horse tourism initiative will continue to position Louisiana as a leader in the equine industry."

Branding for the program is underway and the #LouisianaHorse hashtag will be prominent to highlight not only breeding and racing, but show and performance events as well as recreational riding through the state parks.

Lee Berwick Night at Delta Downs

Delta Downs will close out its 2017 American Quarter Horse season on Saturday, July 8 with another exciting edition of Louisiana Showcase Night. The stakes-filled card will include the running of the $200,000-added Lee Berwick Memorial Futurity (RG1) as well as the $150,000-added Delta Downs Derby (RG3).

Once again, LQHBA will welcome Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser and several other legislators for the festivities, in keeping with the tradition of awarding scholarships to Louisiana students.

Two scholarships will be presented to Louisiana high school students intent on continuing their education. The program has been expanded to include not only graduating seniors, but to those that have already graduated and are pursuing higher education.

Since 2001, the LQHBA scholarship program has provided financial aid for students to attend a higher education institution. Over $500,000, has been earmarked for this program since its inception.

LQHBA Yearling Sale

On May 25, the LQHBA board of directors approved a major change for the annual LQHBA Yearling Sale. Due to a record 630 yearlings consigned, a decision was made to expand the sale with 120 yearlings entering the sale ring on Thursday, August 3, beginning at 5:00 pm. The remaining horses will be sold on Friday, August 4 and Saturday, August 5, beginning at 10:00 am. Ryan Robicheaux is the sale committee chairman and explained the decision making for this year’s sale.

"The increase in yearlings is a good problem to have," stated Robicheaux. "It means that our association is moving forward to have so many horsemen who want to breed their mares in Louisiana."

Robicheaux said that the emphasis on Thursday will be to welcome sale attendees with great hospitality and pleasant evening weather for prospective buyers.

"We want to make it a good time and successful weekend for consignors and buyers," he added.

  The Hip Number and Stall draw will be held at the LQHBA office in Alexandria on Monday, June 5 at 10:30 am. They will conduct an open discussion from 9:00 – 10:00 am for anyone wanting to comment on the 2017 LQHBA Yearling Sale. All updates will be available online at lqhba.com and sale catalogs will be mailed at the end of June.

Fair Grounds Meet Set for August

The 2017 Quarter Horse meet at Fair Grounds in New Orleans will get underway on Friday, August 18 with trials for the $150,000-added LQHBA Sale Futurity set for opening day. The ten-day meet has been extended an extra weekend with the final for the LQHBA Sale Futurity to take place on Saturday, September 9 instead of Labor Day weekend.

LQHBA Fall Mixed Sale

On Saturday, November 18, LQHBA will conduct its annual Fall Mixed Sale at the Equine Sales of Louisiana, LLC sale pavilion in Opelousas, Louisiana. This marks the fourth year that the event will be held in Opelousas, just minutes away from Evangeline Downs, which is in the middle of its annual Quarter Horse racing season.

Renaming of the Million Futurity

Evangeline Downs in Opelousas closes out the racing year with opening night of the 46-day meet on October 4. The big news is that the $1 million LQHBA Breeders Futurity has been renamed and will now be called the LQHBA Louisiana Million. Trials will be contested on Friday, November 17 with the final set for Saturday, December 16.

Tony Patterson, executive director of LQHBA, explains the decision-making process from the board of directors on renaming the prestigious championship.

"Our board wanted more of an impact for the name of the richest race of the year," said Patterson. "To win a million-dollar futurity is a dream come true for any breeder, owner, trainer and jockey. This is a race that means so much to our association, and we feel that its new name, the LQHBA Louisiana Million properly reflects that."

So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a very busy and rewarding remainder of 2017. It should be filled with memorable racing highlights and proud moments for the great Louisiana Quarter Horse racing industry!

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The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen for www.lqhba.com. She served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America.