Photo above: Texas Chrome wins Super Derby 37 at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs in 2016. Credit: Lou Hodges Photography
Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, a racetrack and casino located at 8000 East Texas Street in Bossier City, first hosted the Super Derby in 1980. Since then, some of the most revered horses in thoroughbred racing – including superstars of the sport like Sunday Silence and Alysheba – have taken home the Super Derby trophy. Though much has changed in 37 years, Super Derby day remains an incredibly exciting occasion at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
Super Derby 38 will be run on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Here’s what you need to know in order to enjoy it:
1. What to Wear
Super Derby day is different from most days at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs. The grandstands are filled with ladies in colorful sun dresses and men in seersucker and linen. While it isn’t necessary to dress up for the Super Derby, it can pay off: The track typically hosts best-dressed and “best hat” competitions on the big day.
2. How to Pick a Winner
New to racing? Harrah’s Louisiana Downs typically offers a beginner-friendly handicapping seminar (handicapping is the art of picking winners in thoroughbred racing) early in the day during the Super Derby festivities. Details of Super Derby 38 are being shared in the official Facebook event for Super Derby 38; RSVP to the event for details of seminars and other race day festivities.
Remember that, while all ages are welcome at the track, you’ve got to be 18 years of age or older to bet on the races.
3. Where to Watch the Races
There are plenty of options for where to watch the races at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, including paid seating on the Clubhouse Level and free indoor seating in the grandstands. For me, nothing beats being trackside. From this up-close vantage, the excitement of live racing feels larger than life. The winner’s circle area is great for people-watching, as well.
4. How Affordable Thoroughbred Racing Can Be
My late grandfather and I spent a lot of time at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs together, much of it while I was struggling to make ends meet as a college student. Often, I’d bring a $20 bill to the track and leave with enough cash to grab a burger on the way home, even if I’d lost every race. The secret of thoroughbred racing is that, regardless of whether you’ve bet $2 or $200 on a race, it’s still an absolute thrill when the horses come pounding down the stretch.
5. Who to Follow
Like so many things these days, a big horse race can be more fun to experience if you’re following the right folks on Twitter. Mary Rampellini, Mid-South Correspondent for the Daily Racing Form, will likely be sharing her take on the day’s races. Racing insider Travis Stone, who previously announced races at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, will be a useful follow on race day. And it couldn’t hurt to follow Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
If you decide to get in on the excitement of Super Derby day, good on ‘ya. It’s a Shreveport-Bossier tradition that too many locals – especially those under age 35 or so – have yet to experience. My advice? Arrive early, celebrate responsibly and always, always jump up and down and shout your horse’s name when they turn down the homestretch.