LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen August  16, 2018

ALMOST DELTA TIME!

The Louisiana Quarter Horse circuit shifts to Delta Downs on Friday, April 20. Racing fans will enjoy 46 days of live racing with a very lucrative stakes schedule, beginning with the $20,000 Delta Dash for 3-year-olds and up at 250 yards. Opening weekend will also feature trials for the Old South Derby and Futurity.

Accredited Louisiana-breds will compete in trials for the Lassie and Laddie Futurities on Friday, April 27 and 28. The $100,000-added Firecracker Futurity (G2) will take place on Wednesday, July 4. The season concludes with a stakes-filled evening on July 7 highlighted by the richest stakes of the meet, the Lee Berwick Futurity (RG1). Last year’s Lee Berwick winner was Dashnunder Afullmoon a filly owned by Rogelio Marquez, Jr. With victories in both the Lassie and Lee Berwick Futurities, the daughter of Heza Fast Dash was honored as LQHBA Champion 2-year-old filly last month at the annual LQHBA Membership Meeting & Awards Banquet.

Kenneth Roberts, Sr. returns in pursuit of his ninth Delta Downs training title. He set a Quarter Horse single season record for purses won by a conditioner with $1,515,184 earned in the 2017 Delta season. The popular horseman added his first AQHA Champion Trainer title to a heralded résumé when his name was announced in the January ceremony at Heritage Place. His competition this year will include Michael Taylor, Trey Ellis, Kenneth Weeks as well as Lanny Keith and Carlos Saldivar, who tied as leading conditioners at Louisiana Downs.

The Delta Downs jockey colony is always filled with talent, ranging from veterans John Hamilton, Gilbert Ortiz, Patrick Watson and 2016 leading rider David Alvarez to the rising stars, which include 2017 LQHBA Champion jockey Damian Martinez, Eddie Sanchez, Noe Castaneda and Juan Garcia, Jr. Watch out for Everardo Rodriguez, who won the 2017 Evangeline Downs leading rider title and topped his fellow riders this year at Louisiana Downs. In just five years as a professional, he is quickly making a name for himself and is well-liked and respected by horsemen.

One notable addition this year is the new safety rail installed following the 2017 Quarter Horse season. Kudos to Delta Downs for ensuring the safety of the horses and riders by facilitating this improvement!

Visitors to Delta Downs can enjoy the excellent Triple Crown Buffet as well as the Lookout Restaurant, the track’s featured dining area during the racing season. It’s open from 5-10 pm each race night. Located high atop the building just past the finish line, the Lookout features an open-air balcony for a tremendous view of the entire racetrack and serves some of the most mouth-watering food in Louisiana! And for out-of-town horsemen and guests, why hit the road after racing when you can stay at the onsite hotel with 367 luxurious rooms, a 5,000-square-foot fitness center and lively casino with more than 1,450 slots?

Track announcer Don Stevens continues to set the bar very high with unsurpassed fan interaction each race night as well as up-close and personal videos with trainers, jockeys and even "Marty", the unofficial mascot at Delta Downs! Check him out on his You Tube channel: Horseman Don.

"We are all looking forward to the 2018 Delta Downs Quarter Horse meet," said Tony Patterson, LQHBA executive director. "With quality horses, trainers, owners and jockeys, the Delta Downs racing season is exciting for fans and always produces exceptional racing champions that excel throughout the remainder of the year."

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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.