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$123,790 Mardi Gras Derby To Be Contested Saturday, March 14 At Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

Undefeated in four starts, Jess U R Blue (#4) battled Fast Black Hunter (#3) to set the top qualifying mark for Saturday's Mardi Gars Derby at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.

© Hodges Photography / Ann Switalski

BOSSIER CITY, LA—MARCH 10, 2020—An exciting and highly competitive nine-race card is set for Saturday, March 14 at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. As previously announced, the $315,166 Mardi Gras Futurity (RG2) (see related story) will anchor the program, which gets underway at 1:00 p.m. (Central), with the $123,790 Mardi Gras Derby and two divisions of the $15,000 Leverne Perry Memorial Stakes (see related story) to be contested earlier in the afternoon.

Jess U R Blue and Sir Runaway Cash Headline the $123,790 Mardi Gras Derby

The $123,790 Mardi Gras Derby for accredited Louisiana-breds features the top ten qualifiers from six trials run on February 23. Jess U R Blue surged to the wire of his 400 yard trial in a blazing :19.785 seconds for owner Jose U. Oviedo and trainer Fernando Lopez. Jockey Luis Vivanco will have the return call aboard the son of Jess Louisiana Blue out of the Walk Thru Fire mare U R Blue as the 5-2 morning line favorite. The $7,000 LQHBA Yearling Sale graduate is now undefeated with four wins, beginning on November 7 at Evangeline Downs.

“There is a little more pressure on the fastest qualifier, but all we can hope for is a good, clean break,” said Lopez. “We knew that he was bred to go 400 yards; he’s happy and ready!”

Bred by Jumonville Farms, Jess U R Blue earned a 95 speed index in his trial, defeating Fast Black Hunter (:19.799) and Sir Runaway Cash (:19.993), who also qualified for the final.

Meal Ticket Racing’s Sir Runaway Cash had an outstanding 2-year-old season, winning the $428,475 LQHBA Sale Futurity last September at Fair Grounds. Trained by David Bustamonte, the son of Sir Runaway Cash has earned $287,540 in eight lifetime starts. Veteran rider John Hamilton will guide the 4-1 second choice in the wagering.

“Not all horses will turn the corner and improve following their 2-year-old season,” explained Hamilton. “I believe this horse can. He needed the out in his trial and left the gates well. Sometimes you don’t have to go all out in a trial to qualify; I think I have plenty left for the final.”

Fast Black Hunter is owned by Gilbert Morales and trained by Pedro Lopez. The colt by Jet Black Patriot rebounded from his eighth place finish in the $25,000 Billy Montgomery Stakes on January 18. David Alvarez had the mount, finishing second by a neck to Jess U R Blue. He was bred by Kary Neil La Fleur and has won two of his 13 career efforts.

A Quick Jewel won the final trial of the afternoon in :19.873 to set the third-fastest clocking of the afternoon under rider Noe Castaneda. Also sired by Jet Black Patriot, she was bred by Run Bayou Ranch LLC and is trained by Miguel Rodriguez.

Patriot On Ice is another strong contender for owner Rogelio Marquez, Jr. Also by Jet Black Patriot, he began his 2-year-old campaign with a win in his Mardi Gras Futurity trial and ran third in the final. Trained by Alberto Solis, Patriot On Ice won the $25,000 Billy Montgomery Stakes here on January 18 ad finished a half-length behind A Quick Jewel in his Mardi Gras Derby trial.

“He has always run well for us,” said Marquez. “We were hopeful that he would qualify for the LQHBA Louisiana Million (at Evangeline Downs). It was his first time under the lights, and he was leading in his trial, but suddenly hit the brakes. He began his 3-year-old campaign with a win, so we hope that continues on Saturday.”

According to the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association (LQHBA), this year’s purse is the highest in the history of the race. Last year, fastest Qualifier Tdz Louisiana Toast won the final with a purse of $120,782; in 2018, The Cazador was the champion of the $87,506 Mardi Gras Derby.

The Mardi Gras Derby will run as the sixth race, with an approximate post time of 3:00 pm (CT). The field, in post position order, follows:

  1. A Quick Jewel (Noe Castaneda), 8-1
  2. Jess U R Blue (Luis Vivanco), 5-2
  3. Ms Diamond Prize (Noe Villatoro), 6-1
  4. Swamp Cartel (Rolando Pina), 20-1
  5. Leavin You Blue (James Flores), 10-1
  6. Patriot On Ice (Francisco Calderon), 6-1
  7. Lto Thumbs Up (Rolando Cabrera), 15-1
  8. Sir Runaway Cash (John Hamilton), 4-1
  9. Fast Black Hunter (David Alvarez), 9-2
  10. Swamp Eagle (Pedro Espinosa), 20-1

Mardi Gras Handicapping Seminar Begins at Noon on Saturday

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs track announcer John McGary and regional racing publicist Martha Claussen will team up for a Mardi Gras handicapping seminar on Saturday, March 14 at noon. The free seminar will be held in the Inside Rail, located on the first floor of the grandstand. McGary and Claussen will offer their selections for each of the races on the Saturday card and in-depth analysis of the $315,166 Mardi Gras Futurity and $123,790 Mardi Gras Derby.

LQHBA Scholarship Drawings Set for Saturday

Breeding and racing are certainly top priorities for the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association (LQHBA), but one very important goal of the association is to promote education for Louisiana youth. Since 2001, the LQHBA scholarship program has granted over $600,000 for students attending a higher education institution.

In the continuing tradition of combining recognition of youth on big race days, two students will be awarded $2,000 scholarships on Mardi Gras Futurity and Derby Day, March 14 at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. Registration begins at 11:00 am and students MUST BE PRESENT when the drawings take place after the fourth race of the afternoon card. For further information, visit

Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest Continues This Saturday

Harrah’s Louisiana Downs is hosting an exciting on-track handicapping contest called the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest. It began on Saturday, January 18 with major stakes races, including key Kentucky Derby prep races featured each week through May 2. Fans can register at the contest table adjacent to the program stand with weekly prizes awarded and points accumulated toward the $1,000 grand prize.

Louisiana Downs Dates and Post Times

The 2020 Quarter Horse racing season at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs continues through March 18. The 46-day meet includes 12 stakes highlighted by the first official championship for 2-year-olds, the $100,000-added Mardi Gras Futurity on March 14. Live racing will take place Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with a 1:00 p.m. (Central) post time

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About Harrah's Louisiana Downs
Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000-square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.

Courtesy Ses