Katrina Still Affecting Louisiana Racehorse Sales, Breeders

One year ago all eyes were on the Gulf of Mississippi and the path of Hurricane Katrina. The category four storm made landfall in New Orleans Aug. 29 while many of Louisiana's breeders and consignors were attending the Fasig-Tipton Texas summer yearling sale at Lone Star Park. Other Louisiana-based owners and breeders missed the 2005 sale entirely because they could not travel.

"The way it affected me most last year was right here," said Firal Ryder of Ryder River Ridge near Natchitoches, La. "We had a decent sale, but there were people who couldn't get here. It was hard."

Ryder said his farm, located in the northern part of the state, did not receive any severe physical damage, but the entire industry was affected by the events of the storm. "It was rough for a while," he said. "But things are better. We're really pleased with the state of the racing and breeding. There are guys here this year that couldn't make it last year. The breeders are happy this year."

Val Murrell, general manager of Clear Creek Stud near Folsom, La. said, "We're rebuilding slowly," he said. "It's all about prioritizing. There are still some fences that need to go back up. I don't know when that will happen, but we are rebuilding, slowly. Things are going good this year."

Clear Creek Stud will add millionaire grade I winner Lion Tamer to their roster for the 2007 breeding season. "We're anxious to get him down here, and get him going," Murrell said. "He's a great horse and should draw a lot of attention to Louisiana breeding."

Ryder and Murrell said the past year was difficult on the breeding and racing industry in the state, but both look forward to the reopening of Fair Grounds and a return to a sense of normalcy. "We're ready for Fair Grounds to reopen and get things going again," Murrell said.

Fair Grounds, which ran an abbreviated meet at Harrah's Louisiana Downs last year, plans to open Thanksgiving Day with a record stakes schedule worth more than $7.7 million.

About the Author

Leslie Deckard

Leslie Deckard is a former staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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