LaDowns wins race to alleviate worries about Balloon Rally risks to track

 (Photo courtesy Shreveport Bossier Sports Commission)

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports 

Louisiana Downs, site of this weekend’s Red River Balloon Rally, has addressed concerns about possible damage to the Bossier City horserace track’s turf course.

Wednesday afternoon, the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) and the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, issued the following joint statement to the Shreveport-Bossier Journal:

“We have been advised by Louisiana Downs that the track has taken appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the horses, the horsemen, and track surfaces under their control.”

Monday, the Journal reported that at an LSRC committee meeting last Sunday, several commissioners — as well as some owners and trainers — said they were worried about possible damage to the turf course, which is inside the dirt track and surrounds the infield.

The Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission (SBSC), which is the official host of the event, had planned to have approximately 20 hot air balloons on display in the track’s infield, where spectators could get a close-up view.

The SBSC is expecting thousands of people to attend this year’s event, prompting worry about vehicles associated with the balloons, and foot traffic crossing the turf course. Track superintendent Billy McKeever, Jr., said Sunday he understood the SBSC’S plan was to put pieces of plyboard across the track for vehicles and people to use.

While that plan was challenged in Sunday’s discussion, there is no word from any party how Louisiana Downs developed an option that appeased the state agencies enough so that no advance preventative action was taken.

Sara Nelms, Director of Sports for the SBSC, did not return a phone call or email from the Journal on Wednesday. The track, through its public relations agency, had already declined comment on the issue. 

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