NEW ORLEANS -- The Louisiana Derby horse race at the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots is known for being a stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby and the quest for the triple crown.
But now the Fair Grounds is trying to make more than the racing rival Kentucky's event. The Fair Grounds is starting a festival for it and in its inaugural year, it will affect the Crescent City Classic foot race.
Every year, the Louisiana Derby winner walks away with a $1 million purse. The Fair Grounds is hoping they have a new million dollar idea for the race, hosting a festival in the infield.
It's similar to what Churchill Downs, the Fair Grounds’ parent company, hosts for the Kentucky Derby, for now, on a smaller scale.
“You've got such a great racing audience in the region, I think people will see this as another reason to come into New Orleans, spend a couple of nights, enjoy a great day out in the infield. So, I'm looking for this to grow into one of our major festivals for the city of New Orleans,” said Mark Romig, president of the New Orleans Tourism & Marketing Board.
Cowboy Mouth will headline a concert in the infield and spectators will fill the space for the race and beyond. Capitalizing on the sudden success of the Street Food Fest at the Fair Grounds this year, organizers said they will have the largest gathering of food trucks in New Orleans.
“For this year only, the Louisiana Derby will fall on the same day as another iconic New Orleans race: the Crescent City Classic,” said Fair Grounds President & CEO Tim Bryant.
They scheduled it to start after 30,000 runners take to the city's streets.
“We're looking to incorporate a new race course next year. It'll be totally restructured from what it's been in the past. We look to have 30,000 runners competing on that day,” said Eric Jon Stuart, Race Director of the Crescent City Classic.
The starting location and the starting time of the Crescent City Classic will both change with the race no longer starting in the French Quarter, but at the Hyatt downtown.
It will still start earlier and wrap up earlier at City Park, with organizers hoping the horse race will becomes as much of a classic as the foot race.
Organizers of both events are cross-promoting them, with shuttle service expected from City Park to the Fair Grounds after the Crescent City Classic. Both events will be March 30, 2013.