June 19, 2024

New Derby, Oaks preps added to 2021-22 Fair Grounds calendar

Fair Grounds
Fair Grounds (Hodges Photography)

The addition of new Road to the Kentucky Derby and Road to the Kentucky Oaks preps in late December are among the changes to the stakes schedule at the upcoming 2021-22 meeting at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

The Fair Grounds meet will run 80 days, from Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 27, through March 27.

The inaugural editions of the $100,000 Gun Runner S. and the $100,000 Untapable S. for fillies, on Dec. 26, will award points of 10-4-2-1 to its top four finishers toward the 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively. The Gun Runner will be contested at 1 1/16 miles, and the Untapable at one mile and 70 yards.

Gun Runner, the 2017 Horse of the Year, won the 2016 Louisiana Derby for owner Winchell Thoroughbreds and trainer Steve Asmussen. Untapable, campaigned by the same connections, was the champion three-year-old filly of 2014 when she captured the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Rachel Alexandra (G3).

The Gun Runner and Untapable are among six open stakes on the Dec. 26 card, which has been branded Road to the Derby Kickoff Day. Fair Grounds’ Triple Crown prep series continues on Road to the Derby Day, Jan. 22, when the Lecomte (G3) and Silverbulletday S. highlight another six-stakes card.

The seven-stakes Louisiana Derby Preview Day, on Feb. 19, is highlighted by the Risen Star (G2) and Rachel Alexandra (G3), while the meet climaxes with Louisiana Derby Day on March 26. In addition to the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) and the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), the program includes the $500,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) and the $300,000 Muniz Memorial (G2) for older horses.

The stakes action kicks off on opening day with the $150,000 Thanksgiving Classic, a six-furlong sprint for older horses.

Other graded highlights include the $150,000 Louisiana (G3) for older horses on Jan. 22, and the $250,000 Mineshaft (G3) and $150,000 Fair Grounds (G3), also for older horses, on Feb. 19.

Louisiana Champions Day, which offers $750,000 in purses for seven Thoroughbred stakes, will be an early highlight of the meet on Dec. 11.