Fair Grounds Race Course
, often known as New Orleans Fair Grounds
, is a thoroughbred racetrack
in New Orleans
. It is operated by Churchill Downs Louisiana Horseracing Company, LLC.
In 1852 Union Race Course, which today is the site of Fair Grounds, was laid out on Gentilly Road in New Orleans
, thus making it the oldest site of racing in America still in operation.
In 2009, the Horseplayers Association of North America introduced a rating system for 65 Thoroughbred racetracks in North America. Of the top Fifteen, New Orleans Fair Grounds was ranked #12, behind Evangeline Downs
in Opelousas, Louisiana
, which was ranked #6.
Sometimes referred to as the "New Orleans Fair Grounds", the track was initially opened as the "Union Race Course" in 1852. The track closed in 1857 due to competition from the Metairie Course. In 1859 the track was renamed the "Creole Race Course." In 1863, the name was changed again to the "Fair Grounds" and racing was conducted during the Civil War
The track then closed when the Metairie
Course reopened after the war. In 1871, the younger members of the Metairie Jockey Club broke away to form the Louisiana Jockey Club
and begin holding meets at the Fair Grounds. In 1872 the first race card is held at the Fair Grounds under the auspices of the Louisiana Jockey Club.
In 1907, Colonel Matt Winn
arrived in New Orleans
to establish racing dates and deal with other matters in the Louisiana
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