What does the future hold for Louisiana Downs? - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

What does the future hold for Louisiana Downs?

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BOSSIER CITY, La. (KTBS) - The biggest day on the horse racing calendar has just passed with California Chrome winning the Kentucky Derby. Louisiana Downs in Bossier City had a big crowd watching the Derby on television and live racing at the Downs as the new season kicked off at our local track. But, big crowds are the exception, not the norm these days at Louisiana Downs.

RELATED STORY-- And they're off, things are looking up for Louisiana Downs.

"We need to get this right. We don't won't racing to go away," said Steve Chiasson, longtime member of the local horse racing community.

"We all may have to give a little to make this work, but we cannot lose this Louisiana Downs," said Billy "Coach" Montgomery.

"It's time to quit blaming each side for what's wrong," said Louisiana Representative Henry Burns of District 9.

What's wrong with Louisiana Downs? Well it depends on who you ask.

"We've only got slots per legislation here, we don't have table games, we don't have electronic table games and Louisiana Downs is 9 miles further from the Texas border, there are some competitive disadvantages with Louisiana Downs. So it's certainly been more of struggle than it has been in years past," said Mike Rich, General Manager for Harrah's

"We were the flagship of racing in Louisiana, now you have smaller institutions like Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs that are giving away more money than we're giving away here now. More purse money, why?", asked Chiasson.

Anyone who's lived around here for a while knows Louisiana Downs used to be very special. It's definitely had some glory days, but by most accounts those glory days have passed. The job now, try and get them back, and what if all the interested parties don't come together and talk? What happens then?

"I think we've got a lot of players that need to get involved in it and need to recognize that there is a problem, and if we do nothing I think we know what the result will be," said Representative Burns.

RELATED STORY--Oaklawn outpaces Louisiana Downs.

"That's the ultimate question. Will racing go away in Northwest Louisiana? And, just think about the lives that will be affected if it does," said Chiasson.

Luke Turner, Commissioner of the Louisiana Racing Commission had this to say about the current situation at the Downs, "There's got to be some give and take in both and we're looking forward to working with them. We want it to survive we want it to do good and anything we can as a commission to help them do that we will.

"Coach" Billy Montgomery feels like something will have to be done to keep Louisiana Downs thriving in the future.  "To save this we may all have to give a little bit to make things happen because it's going through tough times."

For now the folks at Harrah's including General Manager, Mike Rich, are only thinking about this season and this season only.  "We're not focused on whether we are losing Louisiana Downs. We are focused on how we can make it more competitive for Louisiana Downs going forward, how we can make it better and how we can make this a better experience, that's what we are really focused on at this point in time."

The thoroughbred racing season at Louisiana Downs continues through September with live racing Thursday through Sunday.
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