4/24/2012..Delta Downs will open the doors for their 2012 Quarter Horse meet this weekend, and some of the premier racing stables in the racing industry will be on hand to showcase their runners. The action will get kicked off on Friday night April 27th with the trials to the Alabama Futurity and the RG3 John Alleman Memorial at 350 yards. Saturday nights feature will be the Louisiana Bred Graduation trials for 3 and 4 year old Louisiana bred maidens.
..The following weekend will be a "coming out party" for what is sure to be, some of the fastest 2 year olds the business has to offer..Friday night May 4th, trainers will unveil their two year old Louisiana Bred fillies in the 330 yard Lassie Futurity trials, and then on Saturday night May 5th, the two year old Louisiana Bred colts and geldings will hit the track in the Laddie Futurity trials.
..But what has created a buzz, and generated anticipation is the renewal of a Delta Downs classic: “The Old South Futurity”. The 330 yard trials for this renewal will be held on Thursday May 3rd and are open to all foals of 2010..Last held in 1993, this futurity was once a premier event on the Quarter Horse racing circuit and had purses that exceeded $200,000 back in the 1970’s and 80’s.
..Winning jockeys included Randy Romero, Alvin Brossette, Randy Rentz, Don Tyre, Marty Clark, Steve Fuller, Ronald Lejune, Nickey Laws, Gilbert Ortiz, Chad Hassenphlug and John Alleman..
..Winning trainers included L.J.Romero, Jimmy Arriola, Ronald Briley, Steve Van Bebber, Matt Baker, Kenneth Roberts, Pat Ladner, John Buchanan, Mike Lyles, Dan Fussell, James Vance, Tammy Davis and Danny Eldridge.. Two of these are back with hopefuls for this years renewal; Kenneth Roberts (Roula Cash 1984) and Danny Eldridge (Ryons Lark 1993)..
..Old South Futurity winners included some of the fastest horses to ever come out of South Louisiana and East Texas. It started out as an early futurity at a distance of 330 yards and then moved to a later time in the year with distances of 400, and then 440 yards. The legendary Rockets Magic won this race at 330 yards in 1975, and then moved on to finish 3rd in the All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs.. Rockets Magic was ridden by Randy Romero and trained by his father Lloyd Romero. This group and their All American experience, was the basis for the movie “Caseys Shadow”. Rockets Magic went on to become a successful sire, and his blood still runs in the veins of many of the horses competing at the track today.
..The brilliantly fast Johnny Vittoro won the event in 1981 for local owners, and went on to amass earnings of over $600,000 in his race career.. His sire Vittoro, had won the inaugural running of the Old South in 1974. In the year 1982, The Signature won the race with the all-time high purse of $295,100.
.. The first Old South Futurity I can remember watching was won by Ryons Glass in 1985..Marty Clark was the winning jockey, and the purse for that race was listed as $205,530..The crowd was huge and the winning time was 22.04 at a distance of 440 yards. Ryons Glass had already won the Firecracker Futurity, defeating Mr. Trucka Jet, an eventual All American Futurity winner. Ryons Glass was owned by M.C. Morris, who has won many races since then and his horses continue to be a dominant force at Delta Downs.
..In 1986, John Alleman rode Take The Risk into the Old South winners circle to collect their winning share of the $205,000 purse. John was tragically lost in a riding accident that shook the entire Delta Downs community in 1989, the annual John Alleman Memorial is held in his honor.
..I was on hand in 1987, when the race ended in a dead heat between Cassie Charger and Fight On.. And in the following years when the race was won by Osceola Warrior(1988), Xia Xiang(1989) and Material Filly(1990). But in 1994, the Old South Futurity was dropped from the line up, and over time much of it's history was lost, for a while the future of Delta Downs itself looked pretty bleak..During the 90’s, the track suffered through some hard times, and as the crowds drifted away, the purses dropped and horses stopped coming.
..But all that has changed in the last 10 years. With the work of Track Ownership, State Legislators and the LQHBA, along with the owners, trainers, jockeys and everybody else that stuck it out through the hard times, this track has become a powerhouse of Quarter Horse racing and their future has never seemed brighter.
..Hats off to Delta Downs for bringing back the “Old South” and good luck to all for a successful 2012 meet..