Racing returns to New Orleans

November 26th, 2006

Thoroughbred racing, a 135-year-old tradition in New Orleans, returned on Thanksgiving Day, following 15 months of restoration in the wake of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Fair Grounds Race Course, the third-oldest race facility in the United States, was re-opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony held at the track’s historic entrance gate, which dates back to the first day of racing at Fair Grounds, in 1872.  Thanksgiving Day has traditionally marked the opening of the annual race meet.

Following opening ceremonies, racing officially started as a field of eight Louisiana-breds was called to post for the first race. Appropriately, the winner, Clouds on the Walk, was ridden by New Orleans native Joe Talamo and trained by Larry Robideaux, of Bossier City, Louisiana, who has been racing at Fair Grounds since 1960.

“I entered this horse with the intention of winning the first race back at the Fair Grounds,” said 73-year-old Robideaux, following Clouds on the Walk’s victory. “This helps bring New Orleans back to life. I’ve raced at tracks around the country, but winning here today means more to me than all of those other wins.”

Talamo, a 16-year-old apprentice rider, who is 57 years younger than Robideaux, was thrilled with his win. “I’ve been coming out here on Thanksgiving Day with my family since I was a little kid,” he said. “It was incredible to win this race.”

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