OPELOUSAS, La. — UPDATE: The owners of Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs were scheduled to appear in court on Friday morning. However, the hearing was suspended.
A new date for the hearing was unknown as of Friday night, but the restraining order preventing the LRC from allowing horses, owners, trainers, and staff from New Orleans to be brought to Evangeline Downs is still in place.
The hearing in Lake Charles was suspended today (the mayor didn’t know the new date); restraining order still in place.
A temporary restraining order is in place Tuesday, preventing the Louisiana Racing Commission from allowing horses, owners, trainers, and barn staff from New Orleans to be brought to Evangeline Downs in Opelousas and Delta Downs in Vinton.
State Representative Dustin Miller says moving horses and people from a highly COVID-19 positive area to anywhere would be irresponsible and could potentially spread the virus in Opelousas and St. Landry Parish.
A lawsuit was filed electronically on March 21 by Boyd Racing, which operates Delta Downs Racetrack Casino in Calcasieu Parish, and the Old Evangeline Downs, which operates Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino Hotel in St. Landry Parish, against the Louisiana State Racing Commission.
According to the lawsuit, a teleconference meeting was held on March 20 by the LSRC after Gov. John Bel Edwards’ proclamation that shutdown racetrack facilities in the state and directed employees not to report to work.
During that meeting, representatives from the Fairgrounds in New Orleans said that they had 1,450 horses at their facilities and asked that those horses and their caretakers be moved to Evangeline Downs and Delta Downs.
Evangeline and Delta Downs objected to housing the additional horses because they did not have employees to accommodate them. And since their racetracks are close, they are not able to maintain the track to allow the horses to exercise.
The lawsuit claims that during the conference the LRSC voted to issue an order that had not been provided to Evangelin and Delta Downs and was not properly vetted.
The LRSC order on March 20 states that all licensed racetracks and training facilities in the state will:
- Allow horsemen and horses to shelter in place without threat of eviction;
- Shall allow adequate access to their tracks and exercise facilities at least every other day to ensure the wellbeing of the horses;
- Shall allow the customary movement of horsemen and horses in accordance with meet and training schedules, regardless of whether or not meets are being conducted; and
- Shall implement the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s recommendations in response to COVID-19 that were issued on March 18, 2020, excepting those recommendations for which a waiver can be obtained from The Louisiana Racing Commission because their application is deemed by the Commission to not be feasible under the particular circumstances.
The lawsuit from Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs states that this order will cause them irreparable harm as their racetrack does not currently have the personnel on site to perform the daily maintenance to ensure the integrity of the racetrack.
The racetrack owners were able to get a temporary restraining order from a Calcasieu Parish judge on Saturday, which will be in place until they bring the suit to court on Friday morning.
You can read the LRSC order here:
You can read the lawsuit from Evangeline Downs and Delta Downs here: