A win is a win as train keeps rolling

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

OK, so last week’s miniscule profit didn’t make a dent in the retirement plan, but we moved to six straight weeks of gains and that’s all that matters.

We head to the second week of the PGA Tour Playoffs, but, again, there just isn’t much value. We’ve been crushing the world’s other Tours, so we’re headed to the Czech Open and the beginning of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

We had two of the top three guys entering the final round on the KFT last week, but neither could close the deal. We come right back with one of those, Taylor Montgomery, again this week.

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around! Remember this is a VALUE-based system, so don’t settle for a price significantly less than the one listed. And jump on better prices!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week recap: +.03 units

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

PGA TOUR

BMW Championship

Win bet

Aaron Wise, .1 unit, +6150 (DK)

Top 20 bet

Luke List, .4 units, +400 (FD)

DP WORLD TOUR

C&C Czech Masters

Win bets

Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, .1 unit, +7600 (MGM)

Thirston Lawrence, .1 unit, +2900 (FD)

Niklas Norgaard Moller, .1 unit, +6600 (FD)

Marcel Schneider, .1 unit, +7000 (MGM)

Top 20 bets

Tapio Pulkkanen, .4 units, +280 (DK)

Zach Murray, .3 units, +850 (FD)

Ricardo Santos, .2 units, +750 (DK)

Aman Gupta, .2 units, +500 (FD)

First-round leader (FRL)

Niklas Norgaard Moller, .1 unit, +7600 (FD)

KORN FERRY TOUR

Albertsons Boise Open

Win bets

Taylor Montgomery, .1 unit, +2900 (FD)

Nick Hardy, .1 unit, +4900 (FD)

Contact Roy at RoyLangIII@yahoo.com


Her horses are her children

 PEACEFUL SETTING: At Channon Farms, Gillian Taylor and her husband, Roy, care for young horses like this foal from Majestic Fantasy.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Gillian Taylor doesn’t have children.

At least not what you think of as children.

“I’m a total animal person,” Taylor said from her office at Channon Farm in Doyline. “If I’m not doing horses, I have a houseful of dogs — rescue dogs. God gave me talents in the animal business. That’s all I can tell you.”

But Taylor can, and does, tell so much more. Her “talents” were formed in the United Kingdom, where she was born.

“I started falling in love with horses when I was eight years old. It’s ironic because I went to a farm named Taylor Farm. It was pigs, cows, horses. That’s where I learned to ride.”

A few years later, Taylor’s father moved his family to the United States. “He saw America as a golden opportunity,” she remembered.

Taylor saw America as a place to pick up where she left off.

“I started right back into horses. I had already made up my mind that was going to be my career.”

And when Taylor puts her mind to something . . .

Her career brought Taylor to Fox Fire Farm in Alexandria, then to Lickskillet Ranch in Greenwood. That’s where she earned a stellar reputation of working with horses who needed rehabilitation from injury — called a “layup” service.

“I used to do all of (trainers) Gene and Cole Norman’s layups. They used to fill up my whole barn. I had quite a few stalls. But over the years, (the layup business) seemed to dwindle when Louisiana Downs started going down. Some of my big clients didn’t even come back.”

At Channon Farm — Channon is Taylor’s middle name — Taylor still has her hand in layups, working with six to 10 horses at a time. Taylor’s rehab success has less to do with exercise, and more to do with creating a calming environment throughout the farm’s 85 acres.

“The atmosphere at the track, they hear the noises and the horses. Out here, it’s just totally peaceful. You can hear the birds. (The horses) just relax. That’s the main thing. They unwind and relax. They take a break from the stress of training.”

Stewart Madison, a horse owner from Shreveport who lives in Jackson, Miss., has been trusting Taylor for 25 years.

“She’s good at what she does,” Madison said. “She’s honest. She never hides anything. If there’s something wrong, she won’t tell you things are great. She will tell you if something’s wrong. She’s just an honest person.”

These days, Channon is mostly a broodmare farm.

“We had 34 foals this year,” Taylor said. “We raise the babies. A lot of my clients race, so we raise (the foals) until they’re ready to go to different people to break.”

Taylor’s most memorable foal came on February 1, 2001. Happy Ticket, owned by Madison, grew up and won 12 of her 20 starts, earning $1.6 million.

“I am very, very indebted to Stewart for sticking with me all these years and letting me raise a baby like that. It was huge. We still ride on that high.”

Madison gives Taylor as much credit for Happy Ticket’s success as anyone.

“Without someone like her, sometimes horses like Happy Ticket never get the chance to be what they are. When Jill handed Happy Ticket off to the trainer, Happy Ticket was ready to be trained. The horse was a good horse and healthy, and Jill was responsible for all of that.”

Happy Ticket left Taylor’s care at a young age. But seeing the horse’s very successful career left Taylor, who considers herself the horse’s human mother, with a feeling of satisfaction.

“Not having children, I can only speculate, but it’s like (being) a proud parent.”

Taylor has always felt a certain connection with horses, a connection Madison can tell is still there.

“If you walk out her back door, there’s her barn. So, she’s pretty close to her horses. That’s what she does. She’s a great person with horses. She’s always taken great care of mine.”

And at 66 years old, Taylor sometimes feels like a kid again.

“When I get a new horse, I get excited,” Taylor said. “The thrill is just — I love the animal. I just love horses. I call it a long-lasting love relationship.”

Like a mother has with her children.

Louisiana Downs races Saturday through Tuesday. Post time is 3:05.

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com

Submitted Photo

Mr. Menu is an advertising company that produces in-house and take-home menus for locally owned restaurants statewide. The menus are full color, printed on heavy stock paper and provided to the restaurants at no charge. The menus cycle every three to four months and they allow advertisers to speak to the customers of popular locally owned restaurants.

Mike Whitler became the owner/operator of Mr. Menu in 2006, and has since grown the business to include dozens of menus and hundreds of advertisers across the state of Louisiana.


Too many questions surround Louisiana Downs’ approach to 2022 Super Derby

More than a month before Louisiana Downs began its 2022 thoroughbred meet, new owner Kevin Preston made an attention-grabbing revelation that provided a shot in the arm for horse racing fans – especially locals.

The Super Derby was back.

“It puts us back on the map,” said Preston, the President of Rubico Acquisition Corporation — the company that purchased Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack from Caesars Entertainment and VICI Properties for $22 million in November. “It shows that this new ownership group is serious about racing, and about bringing this track back to life.”

The Super Derby, established in 1980 and a former gem on the national scene, hasn’t left the gate since 2019.

Preston’s assertion was a smart move, but appears to be irresponsible at best, likely hollow and possibly deceitful.

Wednesday, just one month prior to the supposed Super Derby Day, Louisiana Downs sent a press release to selected people and organizations stating the 2022 Super Derby was off.

In the release, obtained from other outlets, Preston said, “While we were excited to potentially bring the Super Derby back …”

Potentially?

So, if we’re to believe the original statement, this shows Louisiana Downs fans and horsemen the new ownership is not “serious about racing.”

I’m not sure what to believe.

Was there ever a plan to run the Super Derby this year, or did Preston attempt to leverage the track’s calling card to cheaply drum up interest and goodwill prior to his first meet?

Other than Preston saying the Super Derby was back, there’s not much proof. For starters, the race is not listed on The National Stakes Conditions Book, the stakes schedule at Bloodhorse.com or the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).

Plus, there was never a Super Derby Prelude on the books. In the past, the Prelude Stakes offered horsemen loyal to Louisiana Downs entry into the Super Derby. The race, roughly a month prior to the Super Derby, featured many local horses and trainers and offered the top few finishers a stakes purse and a free ticket into the track’s signature event.

Al Stall Jr. parlayed Apart’s Prelude win and a fees-paid berth for the big race into a Super Derby romp in 2010.

The only stakes events listed at Louisiana Downs in racing publications were the six races ($50,000 each) held on Louisiana Cup Day (Aug. 6).

So, a month before the race there were no details available. The track then spun the disappearance of the Super Derby as, “The race will return in 2023!” Again, no details, just a general statement and a smokescreen about Historical Horse Racing machines, pending off-track betting locations, and sportsbook revenue. Plus, a plan to place another 100 new slot machines on the casino floor, which will “increase slot revenue and further enhance the purse structure.”

Those HHRs are cool, I’m a huge fan of the sportsbook and OTBs (by the way, the Mound location was supposed to open long ago), but there is good reason to be leery.

I wonder if Downs officials realize the ramifications of the not-so-super Derby confusion. According to TOBA, the group that initiated the graded stakes process in 1973, the race was ineligible to be a graded event in 2022 and – even with a COVID exemption from 2020 — is likely ineligible to be a graded event (your chance to attract elite talent) in 2023.

“If a race is not run for two or more years or has not run in two of the last three years, it is ineligible for grading,” FOBA rules state. “Stakes races that are eligible for grading must appear in the track’s published (electronic and/or print) stakes book before the beginning of the meet with their run date and full conditions.”

Naturally, we’d love details straight from the horse’s mouth on why the Super Derby was void of full conditions and wasn’t on any calendar for 2022 despite a pledge otherwise. However, the folks in charge have repeatedly denied requests for basic information.

“We wanted to make sure people knew that we were serious, and that’s why we wanted to bring back the Super Derby,” Preston said in April. “We want to make sure it’s on people’s minds for years to come.”

What else has been promised and not delivered to local fans and horsemen?

Another freezing-cold take made by Preston early this season: “We may not be able to get (the track) back to its heyday in the ’80s, but we sure want to give it a shot.”

May not be able to? There is ZERO chance the 1980s are coming back to the Downs or any other horse track in the nation.

As the horse racing industry ran into tough times in the early 2000s, Louisiana Downs felt the squeeze.

For so many reasons, certainly not only because of the folks running the track, the crowds, purses and interest waned. One of the few things the Bossier City facility kept was the Super Derby.

Sure, it lost its Grade I status (the highest in the sport), and then its Grade II status, and then its Grade III status – now that was the track’s fault (a short-sighted move to the grass in 2017, under prior ownership). The purse tumbled from $1 million to $200,000.

But Louisiana Downs still had the Super Derby – the track’s undisputed calling card. Now, there is no chance the modern-day Alysheba is rolling into Bossier City.

The ’80s? Let’s start with a goal to get the track back among the top in the state of Louisiana.

Currently, a place like the Fair Grounds is Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont and LaDowns is aptly-named Sham.

 Contact Roy at RoyLangIII@yahoo.com


Bat banishment to start demolition of Fair Grounds Field

DESTRUCTION LOOMS:  Abandoned for many years, dilapidated Fair Grounds Field is slated for destruction in a two-phase process beginning Aug. 22.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Fair Grounds Field doesn’t have a specific demolition date, but there is now a timeline for its demise.

The removal of flocks of bats will begin Aug. 22. As the Shreveport-Bossier Journal reported in April, the bats — which have lived in the stadium for years — must be removed and relocated before the city-owned, abandoned former home of Shreveport minor-league baseball can be demolished.

The process was stalled due to federal regulations protecting some bat species during their mating season, which runs from April to August. That pause ends next week.

“We will be taking these bats and trapping them live, and replacing them 25 miles away from the stadium,” said David Perault with Perault’s Nuisance Wildlife Control, in Denham Springs. “Basically, they’re getting a new home.”

Perault will catch the bats using traps he invented. Perault and his six-person crew will bring 10 traps to Fair Grounds Field.

“We have caught up to 400-500 bats in a trap,” Perault said. “We will put multiple traps in places where there are a lot of bats, and just see what we’ve got. It’s going to be around-the-clock work for us. We’re going to watch for them in the evening when the bats come out. If (a trap) starts to get too many in it, we will switch it out.”

Perault has twice scouted Fair Grounds Field. He doesn’t know how many bats he will catch, but he knows it will be a lot.

“My record is 1,440 in one place,” Perault said. “I think we’re going to beat the record. I have seen four or five hundred at the stadium, but you don’t know what’s behind everything. That’s why this system works so well. When the bats come out, they will go into the system. We will get a good count of them.”

Once the bats are trapped, they will be released outside the city.

“Usually, we like to get 20-25 miles away at least,” Perault said. “That’s to make sure the bats don’t come back. There’s no guarantee they won’t, but we will have them gone enough in time for the stadium to be taken down.”

Perault hopes to have the bats removed in seven days. Then, Henderson Construction Services of Shreveport can begin the stadium demolition process. There will not be a “3-2-1 BOOM!” moment.

“There won’t be any explosions,” said Ida Henderson, who runs Henderson Construction with her father, Shelton. “We will take it down with machines. We’re going to do it section by section. We’re going to get the building down on the ground, and we will haul the debris to a landfill. We will take environmental measures to keep the dust controlled, so anything won’t get out in the neighborhood, to the hospitals, and the Queensboro community.”

Henderson cited safety concerns.

“We’ve been doing demolitions for a couple of years now, and that’s the way we’ve done them,” Henderson said. “We’ve taken down buildings at Louisiana Tech and Southern University in Baton Rouge. We’ve found that’s the safe way to do things.”

Lately, Henderson Construction has become more of a call center for people asking how they can get items from Fair Grounds Field before it’s too late.

“Someone called,” Henderson said, “because there’s a sign they vividly remember and they want to get it. Someone called about a metal knife sharpener they remember. They know exactly where it was left, and they want to get it. Some people were season ticket holders. They want the seats they sat in. Some people want some benches.”

Henderson said it hasn’t been decided if there will be a charge for items.

“We’re still working that out. We will have to pull those items because of safety. Our employees will have to do a little labor to get those items out.”

Anyone interested in memorabilia from Fair Grounds Field can call Henderson Construction at 861-0512.

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com

https://shreveportbossierjournal.com/2022/04/12/untended-fair-grounds-field-set-for-demolition/

https://shreveportbossierjournal.com/2022/04/15/fair-grounds-field-left-us-a-long-time-ago/

https://shreveportbossierjournal.com/2022/04/21/spotlight-swinging-bats-delay-demolition-of-fair-grounds-field/


Beat the heat: Mudbugs skate into training camp

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Despite temperatures still hovering near 100 degrees, the ice at George’s Pond at Hirsch Coliseum is fresh and ready for another season of Shreveport Mudbugs hockey.

The Mudbugs can protect just 24 players and will carry barely more than that during the 2022-23 season, but more than 80 players will attempt to make that squad when training camp begins Saturday.

Shreveport aims to reboot following a tumultuous 2021-22 campaign. In defense of their 2020 North American Hockey League Robertson Cup, the Mudbugs were forced to climb out of a massive hole just to qualify for the postseason – which they’ve done every year as a developmental junior franchise. However, Shreveport was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Now, Jason Campbell and his staff are tasked with replacing roughly half the roster.

One of the newbies with an eye on a Mudbugs sweater is 17-year-old Kason Muscutt, son of general manager Scott Muscutt, the original Mudbug and a former coach of the franchise.

“I don’t look at him like a Muscutt,” Campbell said. “He’s practiced with us a lot in previous years and I’ve seen a lot of development from him just in the past year. He’s been rewarded for all the work he’s put in.”

It would be hard to imagine a better example of the impact made by Shreveport’s hockey franchise over the past two decades than if Kason Muscutt were to make the roster. But marketing isn’t the goal.

“He’s coming in as an undrafted, untendered free agent with a chip on his shoulder,” Campbell said. “He’s going to get a fair look like everybody else.

“There are a lot of different scenarios in play here, but the main thing for him, or any young guy – ‘Am I going to develop enough in the role the team sees me in?’”

In addition to sweeping changes on the ice, Shreveport made one behind the bench, too. Michael Hill, a part of three junior hockey championships during his coaching career, will serve as the Mudbugs’ associate head coach.

“He’s everything I’m not,” Campbell said. “He’s extremely organized. He has a library full of videos and practice plans and drills. He’s young and he has a good eye for the game. He wants to be heavily involved and that’s what he’s going to be.”

Training camp includes practices, scrimmages, and player appearances and runs through Aug. 20. Then, Campbell and his staff will make significant cuts prior to preseason games in North Richland Hills, Texas, and Springfield, Ill.

The 2022-23 opener is slated for Sept. 14 against the Minnesota Wilderness at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota. The first game at The George is set for Sept. 23 against Amarillo.

Contact Roy at RoyLangIII@yahoo.com

Photo by DEREK CONSTANTINO


O.J.’s local roots bring him back for golf, family

JUICE BREAK: After a round of golf at Huntington, O.J. Simpson shared his thoughts on football, the presidency, and his family.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

I don’t know what it was that made me drive the golf cart across the fairway and introduce myself. Curiosity, I imagine. It’s not like I put a lot of thought into it. In fact, I had no idea what I was going to say when I got to his golf cart.

There I was, in the middle of the 17th fairway at Huntington Park golf course, introducing myself. “Hi. I’m Harriet Prothro Penrod. I’m with the Shreveport-Bossier Journal, and I was wondering if I could do a short Q&A with you after your round.”

He looked me right in the eyes, held out his hand, smiled, and said, “Are you related to (College Football Hall of Fame coach) Tommy Prothro?”

“No,” I said, “but it is spelled the same way.”

He said sure, he’d be happy to sit down and visit after the round. “Well, okay,” I replied. “I’ll meet you in the clubhouse.”

It was on this same course two years ago – playing in the Ebony Golf Tournament – that I saw O.J. Simpson. Actually, I heard him first and recognized that voice. There was no doubt about the identity of the large man bending over to find his golf ball in the high grass on the other side of the 15th green.

He hung around the clubhouse after the tournament, but I had no desire to go up and talk to him. Perhaps now – two years later — that I was writing for the SBJ (which didn’t exist then), I felt the journalistic urge to interview the (in)famous individual. Maybe people would be interested to know what he was doing in Shreveport.

Think what you may about him.

Growing up, my favorite sport was football. I spent endless days in the front yard – in pads and helmet – playing with my cousin, younger brother, and any of the boys from the neighborhood who wanted to play. When my cousin, who was “all-time QB,” wasn’t playing, that meant I got to be quarterback. When Jeff was there, I’d play wide receiver.

More than once, there would be a knock on our front door and my mom would answer to hear a young boy say, “Can Harriet come out and play quarterback?”

Believe me, that’s not what my mom wanted to hear. But I digress.

I say all that to say this: I loved football – playing it and watching it. And I grew up watching O.J. Simpson play football – at USC and for the Buffalo Bills, where his quarterback was Shreveport’s own Joe Ferguson.

Maybe that’s what made me want to talk to him. Whatever the reason, last Sunday I cut my own round short and waited in the clubhouse at Huntington, wondering if he was actually going to come in and sit down to talk.

If he did, what would I ask him? I hadn’t prepared a “Q&A” or anything else to ask him. I’d just wing it – bring up some topics and see what he had to say.

And in he walked . . .

And so I said . . .

“I saw you at the Ebony tournament here a couple of years ago. How often do you get to Shreveport?”

 Every two to three years, I come for a family reunion. We’re having our reunion this weekend. We own property in Greenwood – it was deeded down to our family. My kids didn’t make it this year. My two younger kids both have kids under one (year old).

“How are you spending your time these days?”

Between golf and fantasy football, I stay pretty busy. Golf has kept me sane through the years. It gets me up, keeps me moving. I just turned 75. I’ll usually play Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday (in Las Vegas). Sometimes people in town want to play, so I’ll play more. We’ve got a golf group in Vegas called “In the Cup.” There are about 12-13 guys from the Shreveport area who come play. Eventually, we’re all going to come down here and have a tournament – maybe at Squire Creek (outside of Ruston in Choudrant).

“What do you do when you’re not playing golf?”

I’m on Twitter. I’ve had over 900,000 followers. I try to stay out of politics, but that’s almost impossible. I try to keep it in sports and history.

“Who do you think are the best running backs in the NFL today?”

King (Derrick) Henry (Tennessee Titans) and Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts). And Saquon Barkley (New York Giants) is definitely in the top 5 – he just can’t stay healthy.

O.J. talked some more about football – how he and (Pro Football Hall of Famer) Eric Dickerson would be attending, and had a bet on, this year’s opening NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams. He talked some more about politics – how he thought either California Governor Gavin Newsom or Florida Governor Ron DeSantis would be the next President of the United States.

Before leaving, I told O.J. I had one last question: “So, generally, how do people treat you out in public?”

Generally, very well. Rarely do people say something out-of-line.

It was then that a gentleman walked across the clubhouse and asked O.J. if he could have his picture taken with him. You see, as a 10-year-old, he had watched Simpson play in Buffalo and had even gotten O.J.’s autograph after the game.

A football fan . . . like me.

Contact Harriet at sbjharriet@gmail.com

Photo by GINA WOODWARD


Long odds against Super Derby this year

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Early this spring, new Louisiana Downs Racetrack and Casino owner Kevin Preston spoke proudly about bringing the Super Derby to the Bossier City oval for the first time since 2019.

“It puts us back on the map and shows that this new ownership group is serious about racing, and about bringing this track back to life,” Preston said in an April 6 Shreveport-Bossier Journal story.

Four months later, there are doubts about the Super Derby taking place Sept. 10 as planned.

Wednesday, a source with direct knowledge of the situation — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — told the Journal that as of now, what used to be the Downs’ biggest race will not be reborn this year.

The source said there are several reasons. The main reason is that the Downs is cutting daily purses by $1,000 starting next week. In a recent meeting with Preston, local horsemen voiced their displeasure about a planned $300,000 Super Derby purse likely going to out-of-town horsemen, while purses are being reduced for those who run at the Downs every day.

“I’m glad the horsemen were able to voice their opinion, and their opinion was taken to heart,” said Mike McHalffey, who represents Bossier Parish on the Louisiana State Racing Commission. “They put on the show and should have some say in such decisions to have the race or not. Maybe next year, Louisiana Downs will be in a better position to bring back the Super Derby.”

Other reasons for the apparent cancellation, according to the source, include the Louisiana Attorney General’s office looking into $2.3 million of missing money stemming from the ownership transaction a year ago; and the recent, clearly unrelated resignation of Mitch Dennison, who was hired in April as the Downs’ General Manager of Racing and reportedly left due to philosophical differences.

The source said horsemen did not think all things considered, staging the Super Derby was a “good look.”

Wednesday evening, in response to a request for comment, Preston e-mailed the Journal, “We have no comments for you specifically at this time.” Earlier, Andrea Butler, the track’s marketing director, said details would be released Friday. She would not confirm or deny the Super Derby’s cancellation.

As industry observers wonder if a 2022 Super Derby could, at this late stage, attract nationally-competitive horses, one local trainer said there are long odds against Louisiana Downs pulling off an event on the level of past Super Derby races.  He said he believes there won’t be a 2022 edition, but didn’t totally discount the possibility of a race bearing the title being staged a month from now.

“It’s still not (officially) dead, but I think it probably is…They haven’t said it’s on, but they haven’t said it’s off,” the trainer said.

Asked if enough time remains to pull together a quality field, the trainer said, “They better get on the ball.”

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com


Win streak moves to five weeks as Fed Ex Playoffs begin

No, we didn’t nail a 165-1 shot as we’ve done in the past, but another profitable week was delivered.

Our biggest bet of the week — Alfredo Garcia-Heredia to finish in the Top 20 – sent us to the window for a fifth-straight profitable week.

The PGA Tour Playoffs begin this week in Memphis, but I think they’re onto us. I did not find one single bet of value for the FedEx St. Jude Classic, but we have some Euro and Korn Ferry action!

Good luck and take a little bit of your profits from the past month to help make the day better for someone else.

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around! Remember this is a VALUE-based system, so if don’t settle for a price significantly less than the one listed. And jump on better prices!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week recap: +2.68 units

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

DP WORLD TOUR

ISPS Handa World Invitational 

Top 20 bets

Deon Germishuys, .8 units, +270 (FD)

Richard Mansell, .6 units, +135 (FD)

Joakim Wikstrom, .5 units, +750 (FD)

Matthew Baldwin, .4 units, +250 (FD)

Maverick Antcliff, .4 units, +550 (FD)

Craig Howie, .4 units, +280 (FD)

Marco Penge, .3 units, +650 (FD)

Simon Thornton, .3 units, +1100 (FD)

David Borda, .3 units, +1100 (DK)

KORN FERRY TOUR

Pinnacle Bank Championship

Win bets

Taylor Montgomery, .1 unit, +2200 (DK)

Byeong Hun An, .1 unit, +19000 (FD)

MJ Daffue, .1 unit, +4100 (DK)

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com


Russell’s Louisiana-rooted legacy has more context than you may know

Where does Bill Russell fit in American sports history?

Undoubtedly in the stratosphere. His teams won two NCAA basketball championships, an Olympic gold medal, and 11 NBA championships in the 13 seasons he played professionally. Despite never being the Boston Celtics’ top scorer, his defense, his rebounding, his intensity and his intelligence made him the cornerstone of pro sports’ greatest dynasty, one that produced eight straight NBA crowns and earned him five NBA Most Valuable Player awards.

Where does Bill Russell fit in Louisiana sports history?

He was born in West Monroe, on Feb. 12, 1934, during hard times for nearly all Americans and certainly for those of color living in the Deep South.  He spent the first nine years of his life there, where extended family members remain, where his mother, Katie, was buried after she passed at age 32, of a kidney infection, three years after she and his father, Charlie, decided to move their family west to Oakland, hoping for better opportunities. 

But membership in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame is not among the cascade of accolades awarded Russell, who died in his sleep at the very wise old age of 88 Sunday a week ago.

Why not?

Because of a rule developed in the mid-1970s, when the Louisiana Sports Writers Association considered him for its Hall a few years after he retired in the wake of leading the Celtics to another NBA crown, the second time as player-coach, the first Black head coach in pro sports history. Through the years, that LSWA standard has been referred to as “the Bill Russell Rule” – to be eligible for selection, an athlete or coach has to have either played three seasons of high school sports and graduated with a Louisiana Department of Education degree, or have played two years at a state college, or competed for at least five productive years in the state as a pro.

That excluded Russell. And since, it’s been applied to star athletes including basketball greats Marques Johnson (born in Natchitoches), Antawn Jameson (Shreveport), baseball’s Reggie Smith (Shreveport) and gold medal USA Olympic gymnast Carly Patterson (Baton Rouge). That’s just a quick list of sports luminaries born, and in some cases, raised past their elementary school years here before their families relocated them.

Russell may not have contemplated being excluded by his home state’s Hall. After all, he declined to attend his Celtics’ jersey retirement ceremony or even his enshrinement in the nearby Basketball Hall of Fame. In his later years, at an NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, LSHOF selection committee member Ted Lewis briefly spoke with him and asked if Russell had interest, better late than never, in being spotlighted here.

“No, not really,” was the reply, consistent with his lifelong values.            

“It is better to understand than be understood,” he would tell his daughter. And, “you should live a life with as few negatives as possible – without acquiescing.”

One of Russell’s trademarks was declining to sign autographs. Not even for his Celtics teammates.  That was almost uniformly taken as his being churlish and aloof but, instead, it was his belief that a handshake and perhaps a momentary greeting, or even a conversation, was infinitely more personal.

Bob Remy, an esteemed New Orleans sports historian who worked on stat crews for the New Orleans Jazz, Pelicans and Saints, decided as a young adult to ask for Russell’s signature when he visited as head coach of the Seattle Supersonics.

“He said he did not sign autographs. As I turned away, I felt him tap me on the shoulder, and I turned toward him. He looked at me and said, ‘Thank you for asking.’”

Boston-born Bill Magrath has a rarity. It’s a weathered, torn sheet of thin card-stock paper, the back of a roster card from a 1964 Celtics’ game in the fabled Boston Garden in the midst of the dynasty, the Celts on the way to their fifth-straight NBA championship in that mind-blowing string of eight in a row.

It’s got more than a signature — there’s a sweet backstory.

“From one Bill to another, Best wishes, Bill Russell,” it reads.

A keepsake from a kind man, once a lanky Bay Area kid with only one college scholarship offer but an incomparable competitor who rapidly ascended to become one of the world’s most successful athletes. As Boston’s biggest star left the Garden, discreetly from a side door on a stormy winter night, he encountered a very small-for-his-age boy, tugging on his raincoat and shouting, “Mr. Russell, Mr. Russell!” The very tall man, already well known for not signing autographs, swept up the kid in his arms. Then, after a brief chat, he scribbled a note nobody could have imagined would be such a treasure 60-some years later.

Bill Magrath was 9 years old.  Even then, he understood Russell’s reluctance. “Black people were not treated well in Boston in those days,” said Magrath, who holds a master’s degree in sports administration from Northwestern State and is the retired media relations manager for the Sports Business Daily.

Russell was not mean when his experience could have embittered him. But he always rose up against  racism and injustice. He stood alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali. Jackie Robinson asked for Russell, who didn’t know him personally, to be one of his pallbearers, because he was Robinson’s favorite athlete – for the way he competed, on the court, and in life.

Russell didn’t remain in Boston after shelving his sneakers. He returned to the west coast and eventually settled in Seattle. He lived a happy life, on his terms. He listened to NPR and watched Jeopardy or Star Trek. He enjoyed Aretha Franklin and Willie Nelson. He played golf. He read. He encouraged those he loved and, often unexpectedly, others. One night, Daily Show comic Jon Stewart fielded a call from Russell, completely out of left field. Stewart tweeted, “He thought I looked sad. Best pep talk of my life.”

Russell didn’t need, or want, to be in any Hall of Fame. But our teachers, our coaches, our leaders, our mentors need to share his story, much more than just his basketball feats, for generations to come.

Because Bill Russell fits in American history.

Contact Doug at SBJDoug@gmail.com

  • With attribution to reporting by the late Frank Deford, and Rick Reilly.


Trainer specializes in getting young horses ready to race

IN TRAINING: Sunny and Clear is a two-year-old filly that trainer Al Cates (at left) is preparing for her first race, assisted by Noel Almenarez.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Just as a child has to crawl before it can walk, a horse has to walk before it can run.

That’s where Al Cates’ horse sense pays dividends.

A full-time trainer since 2005, Cates works with racehorses of all ages. He is noted for having a knack for getting two-year-olds — the “babies” — ready for the track.

“I really enjoy the young horses because you just never know,” Cates said. “When you get one, no matter what they look like, you just never know until you get going with them and see what kind of heart they’ve got.”

Actually, with one horse, Cates did know.

In 2012, Our Quista was bought for $5,000 at a yearling sale in Monroe. Cates began training the dark brown mare when it was two years old. Our Quista finished in the money in nine of his 11 career starts, won multiple stakes races, and earned more than $266,000.

“I was never more confident that it was going to be a racehorse,” Cates remembered. “It had the look. It was big, and trained lights out. When I put the jockeys on it for their work, they would come back telling me how good it was. They were right on that one.”

But it doesn’t always work that way.

“Sometimes you can just get a feel if they’re going to be a racehorse or not,” Cates said. “There are some, that it’s just the opposite. It just doesn’t look like racing is going to be their career. But it’s a guess, because they can fool you. I don’t think you really know for sure until you put them out in a race.”

But before a horse ever leaves the starting gate, there is a lot of work to do. Work that includes teaching a horse how to leave the starting gate.

“The first time we go (to the track), we will take two (horses), so they will have a buddy with them,” Cates said. “We’ll just go up there and let them look at it. We’ll have the gate crew open the gate, and just let (the horses) walk through. That’s it — just walk through, then come on back. We’ll do that a few times, then slowly, we’ll let them stop and stand in there. Eventually, we will set the front, then hand-open it — not machine-open it — and let them walk out.”

Then, it gets serious.

“(The rider) will let them do it like they want — come out easy — a few times, and then that rider will start asking them a little bit. Then, when it comes time to ring that bell, that will startle them and help them come out.”

Training a young horse requires Cates to be mindful of more than how fast it breaks from the gate, or how quickly it breezes through three furlongs.

“With babies, you have to be careful,” Cates said. “Their legs aren’t fully developed. They don’t have a great immune system yet, so they catch a lot of colds. You just have to kind of monitor them as you go along.”

Owner Mike McDowell has trusted Cates to get several of his young horses ready for the show.

“He really does a great job of evaluating a two-year-old, as far as where they are physically, and maturity-wise,” McDowell said. “If he feels like one needs to be turned back out for another six months to mature a little bit more before they send them to the track, he’ll be flat-out honest with you.”

Patience is key when it comes to training a two-year-old. For example, Sunny and Clear — owned by McDowell — had been preparing for her first race. But . . .

“We worked her three furlongs a couple of weeks ago, and she came back with some sore shins,” Cates said. “That’s kind of common in babies. All it means is that we have to go kind of easy on her maybe the rest of the month. Then, she will resume her speed work. That will get her ready for a race.”

Sunny and Clear isn’t a particularly big horse, but that doesn’t mean she won’t win big.

“She’s kind of on the small side, but she was born in the middle of May, which is kind of late for a baby,” Cates explained. “That’s why we’ve had to go a little easy on her.

“One of the things she’s impressed me with is that she’s intelligent. It seems like she picks up things really easy. We’ve had her at the gate training, and she took that good. She’s easy to ride. She’s easy to train. Sometimes those may be a little slow in developing, but they usually come around.”

The 68-year-old Cates, who began training full-time after a 30-year career with AT&T, has more than 1,400 career starts. His horses have earned more than $4.9 million. Through the years, Cates has noticed something that separates the average newbie from a really good one — and it has nothing to do with physical ability.

“Some of the horses do it easier,” Cates said. “It comes more natural to them than others. I think they’re just smarter. I like a horse who has a good head on it. One that catches on quick (and) is not really spooky. And you can tell. Some of our babies, they’ve just got what I call, ‘A good head.’ They catch onto everything. Everything kind of comes easy to them, and I think they’re just smart.”

Cates runs his horses at Louisiana Downs, Oaklawn Park, and Keeneland — site of this year’s Breeders’ Cup. But when getting his younger horses ready to race, Cates prefers they do their work at Louisiana Downs.

“Billy McKeever is over the track,” Cates said. “He’s been there a long time, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He has us a good surface to train on. It can get a hard rain, and it’s still not bad. He just does a good job. I think that’s why I don’t have a lot of trouble with my two-year-olds.”

And the last thing a trainer — or a parent—wants is to have trouble with a two-year-old.

Louisiana Downs races Saturday through Tuesday. Post time is 3:05.

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com

Submitted photo

Mr. Menu is an advertising company that produces in-house and take-home menus for locally owned restaurants statewide. The menus are full color, printed on heavy stock paper and provided to the restaurants at no charge. The menus cycle every three to four months and they allow advertisers to speak to the customers of popular locally owned restaurants.

Mike Whitler became the owner/operator of Mr. Menu in 2006, and has since grown the business to include dozens of menus and hundreds of advertisers across the state of Louisiana.


Thoughts on bass fishing, by a novice

With photos of big double-digit bass constantly showing up on social media, I began thinking about fishing for bass from the perspective of a novice, a non-pro — in other words, from me.

I love to fish for bass. Something about the explosion on top of the water when a bass smacks a topwater plug gives me the jitters. Ditto for when I feel the tap-tap on the line when fishing a plastic worm and seeing the line begin moving to the side. Catching a glimpse of white beneath the surface when a bass smacks my spinner bait is something else that gets me worked up.

I don’t fish bass tournaments; never have. I fish for bass simply because I love the sport.

It all started for me when as a kid, my dad gave me one of his old hand-me-down reels, a Pfleuger Akron casting reel without any of the fancy stuff reels come equipped with today. My reel was spooled with black line strong enough to pull a mule out of a bog; this was before monofilament line came on the market. The reel was fastened to a Tru-Temper steel rod.

I carried the lures he gave me in a brown paper bag and they included some that would likely be collector’s items today. When is the last time you went to the tackle shop and saw a Shakespeare Dopey; a River Runt; Dalton Special or Hawaiian Wiggler on the shelf? Those were the lures with which I learned to fish for bass. You could spend a couple of bucks and be pretty well outfitted with fishing lures. However, they were treasured products you didn’t want to chance hanging up and losing.

I remember fishing for bass in Molido Creek behind the house, a creek that was home to not only bass but sharp-toothed chain pickerel. We called them “jack fish.” I made a cast with my much-loved River Runt and the lure plunked down next to a fallen log, a perfect hidey hole for a bass.

I began my retrieve when I got a solid hit. Raring back on my rod, I was set to fight what felt like a really nice bass when the fish I had hooked sprang from the water with my River Runt dangling from its toothy jaw. I panicked when I realized this was no bass, but a jack fish which promptly severed my line taking the only River Runt I had with him. I have felt resentment and dislike for jack fish ever since.

I remember the first squirrel I ever shot; the first deer I brought down; the first gobbler I called in and downed, the first duck I ever shot and I remember the first bass I ever caught.

I was a little bitty shaver and was fishing the same little creek behind our house. Casting a Hawaiian Wiggler next to a stump, I promptly got a strike, set the hook and six inches of bass was catapulted out of the creek and over my head. I grabbed the squirming fish and hot-footed it through the woods to the house to show my mama what I had caught.

Recently while headed back home for our high school reunion, I paused when crossing the bridge over Saline Bayou and looked toward the railroad bridge just on the other side. This was a spot when as kids, we could seine crawfish, head for the sandy banks with cane poles and toss a hook baited with a crawfish into the current.

If things went as I hoped, the line would straighten, quiver and I’d be setting the hook in a bass that used that sandy stretch of water for spawning. We called them smallmouth bass when in reality they were spotted or Kentucky bass.

I never dreamed of becoming a bass fishing pro nor did I ever want that lifestyle. Having the chance to see the swirl, feel the tug and know I’m connected to a bass has given me a lifetime of fishing pleasure, and the opportunity to share it with friends and readers.

Contact Glynn at GlynnHarris37@gmail.com


Winning traits abundant, so is success for Cilla

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Long before Cilla ran her first race, trainer Brett Brinkman knew he had a special horse.

“She had the talent, she had the mentality, she had the confirmation,” Brinkman remembered. “She had a lot of the things that you need to become a nice horse. They just all worked together. The timing worked, and she turned out to be who she is.”

“She” is the 2021 Louisiana-bred Horse of the Year, named by the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA). As a three-year-old, Cilla won 7 of her 17 starts, and earned $504,000. This year, the filly has won twice in five starts, earning $133,000.

“Her consistency,” Brinkman said, when asked what he likes about Cilla’s racing style. “She brings her good game most every time. Something has to be a fluke thrown against her. We’ve spotted her in some pretty ambitious places, and she’s run what I felt was her ‘A’ game. And she’s been beaten in those spots. But when she throws her ‘A’ game, it takes another horse’s ‘A’ or ‘A-plus’ game to outrun her.”

There was hope around Louisiana Downs that Cilla would make her next start Saturday, on Louisiana Cup Day. However, Brinkman said that is doubtful. Instead, he is considering running Cilla in The Incredible Revenge Stakes, a $100,000, five-and-a-half-furlong turf race at Monmouth Park.

Cilla certainly has the pedigree for a successful racing career. Her father is California Chrome, a two-time Horse of the Year, and winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Cilla’s mother, Sittin at the Bar, was sired by Into Mischief, the three-time reigning champion General Sire. Thanks in part to California Chrome’s success on grass — she won the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby — Brinkman wants to see what Cilla can do on the turf. She’s only gone off the dirt once, her second career start, and had her worst finish (ninth) ever.

“We felt like her results were probably due to our timing more than who she was at the time,” Brinkman said. “She just really wasn’t as confident a horse back then as she is today, so we’re going to try her back. It (turf racing) just opens up a new avenue. We go to the Fair Grounds in the winter. There are four grass stakes for older fillies and mares, sprinting. We have a huge option if it rains and (the race) goes on the dirt, because she is excellent in the mud.”

Cilla has raced at 11 tracks, all but three outside of Louisiana. Brinkman agrees Cilla carries the banner for Louisiana breds.

“For sure. For sure,” he said. “More than once I’ve heard her referred to as the Louisiana-bred in the race. That’s the one great thing that’s happened. The LTBA has done a great job of name-branding their product. When these horses establish their levels, and create themselves at the national level, they have that brand. They carry that brand forward as a Louisiana bred, and people notice.”

While Brinkman is partial to Cilla, he gives credit to other Louisiana breds who show their talents outside the state.

“When you look at it across the board, these horses go everywhere and compete against everybody, at some point. You find various horses that will show up in all kinds of sections of the United States — California, New York, everywhere. With the levels of racing there are in different spots, I feel like the  Louisiana breds have made enormous bounds forward in their stature, when you evaluate them on a competition level around the nation.”

And that’s in spite of the fact Louisiana doesn’t produce as many thoroughbreds as some other states.

“The numbers work against us. We just don’t have the numbers (that) a place like Kentucky, New York, and Florida have. But when you talk about percentages, and our ability to compete and earn money and be productive, we sit pretty good. We’re raising a good horse in Louisiana and we’re breeding a much better horse in Louisiana.”

While Brinkman is Cilla’s trainer, he was also her breeder, along with owner P. Dale Ladner. That made Cilla’s honor from the LTBA even more meaningful.

“I was raised in a family that this is what we’ve done all our lives — breed and raise horses,” said Brinkman. “I call myself a trainer basically by default. We broke and trained horses and did that all my life growing up, but most of the time we stayed closer to the farm and didn’t go to the racetrack. But I ventured off and went on to the race track and did all that, but I also ventured back into the breeding aspect. I put a lot of stock into breeding my horses and raising my horses. Without that part of it, they don’t have a good career.”

So far, it looks like Brinkman got the breeding — and the training — right.

Louisiana Downs races Saturday through Tuesday. Post time is 3:05, except for this Saturday, Louisiana Cup Day, when post time is 1:45.

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com

Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography

Mr. Menu is an advertising company that produces in-house and take-home menus for locally owned restaurants statewide. The menus are full color, printed on heavy stock paper and provided to the restaurants at no charge. The menus cycle every three to four months and they allow advertisers to speak to the customers of popular locally owned restaurants.

Mike Whitler became the owner/operator of Mr. Menu in 2006, and has since grown the business to include dozens of menus and hundreds of advertisers across the state of Louisiana.


Another bomb winner shows we are LIVing our best life

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

A few weeks ago, we nailed a 165-1 shot. This week, we rode 82-1 Henrik Stenson to the winner’s circle at LIV Bedminster. This run is insane and it certainly will end someday, but let’s just enjoy the ride.

During our four-week winning streak we’ve collected a profit of nearly 37 units!

This week, the PGA Tour hosts its final regular-season event, while it’s the Cazoo Open on the DP World Tour. We’re a little lighter on the units this week – the value just wasn’t plentiful out there.

Good luck!

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around! Remember this is a VALUE-based system, so if don’t settle for a price significantly less than the one listed. And jump on better prices!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week recap: +9.3 units

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

PGA TOUR

Wyndham Championship

Win bet

Brian Harman, .1 unit, +4100 (DK)

Top 20 bets

Martin Laird, .3 units, +350 (DK)

Lucas Glover, .2 units, +500 (DK)

Matthew NeSmith, .2 units, +400 (CAE)

Kramer Hickok, .2 units, +1000 (DK)

DP WORLD TOUR

Cazoo Open

Win bet

Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, .1 unit, +9900 (MGM)

Top 20 bets

Alfredo Garcia-Heredia, .6 units, +410 (FD)

Francesco Laporta, .3 units, +600 (FD)

Jazz Janewattananond, .2 units, +550 (FD)

Dale Whitnell, .2 units, +460 (FD)

Tapio Pulkkanen, .2 units, +600 (FD)

Jens Fahrbring, .2 units, +850 (FD)

Contact Roy at RoyLangIII@yahoo.com


Downs’ ownership may have been shorted $2.3 million in 2021 sale

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

The Journal has learned that the amount of money unaccounted for at Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack is $2.3 million, $400,000 more than originally reported, with the situation arising from the sale of the facility.

Last Friday, the Journal wrote that the Louisiana Attorney General’s office was looking into close to $2 million missing from the Downs’ Horseman’s Purse fund. Sunday, a source indicated that exact figure may be $1.9 million, with an additional $400,000 possibly involving money from video poker machines.

Sunday night, the state AG’s office gave the Journal the office’s first public comment on the situation.

“We are aware of the complaint and are working with the Louisiana Racing Commission and the other parties to resolve the matter,” said press secretary Cory Dennis.

The AG’s office is the legal counsel for the Louisiana State Racing Commission, so the office is limited in what it can say.

The Journal has been told the discrepancy involves the transfer of money which was to have occurred when the sale of Louisiana Downs was being closed last February. Caesars Entertainment sold what was then Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino, Racing and Entertainment, to Rubico Acquisition Corporation.

Kevin Preston, President of Rubico Acquisition Corporation, has not responded to requests for comment last week and Sunday evening. 

Preston has been candid and optimistic about his plans to bring Louisiana Downs back to life. The 48-year-old racing facility, which at one time drew large crowds and offered sizeable purses for horsemen, has generated little interest in recent years, but Preston’s leadership has encouraged locals, particularly those involved with the track.

This weekend, the Journal’s original story on the missing funds received national attention. It was picked up by at least two major horse racing publications.

Contact Tony at SBJTony@gmail.com


Almost $2 million of Downs purse money missing

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Multiple sources have told the Journal that close to $2 million is unaccounted for from the Louisiana Downs horseman’s purse fund.

“The HBPA (Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association) has reported a purse issue to the Louisiana State Racing Commission (LSRC) and the Attorney General’s Office,” said Ed Fenasci, Executive Director of the Louisiana HBPA. Because it is a legal issue, that is the only comment Fenasci could make.

Charlie Gardiner III, Executive Director of the LSRC, did not return a request for comment.

The Journal reached out to the Attorney General’s office and was told the person who could provide details was unavailable.

Kevin Preston, President of Rubico Acquisition Corporation, which owns Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Journal spoke with several sources who requested anonymity. The Journal was told the issue in question involves the transition of purse money when the sale of Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack was closed last February. Caesars Entertainment sold what was then Harrah’s Louisiana Downs Casino, Racing and Entertainment, to Rubico.

The Journal was told that each day, purse money is generated from several sources, including
slot machines and pari-mutual wagering. At issue is if all of the appropriate purse money was
transferred from Caesars Entertainment to Rubico.


T-Ball World Series? Uhhh … FOUL BALL!

Little boy baseball is a beautiful thing. Especially when grownups aren’t involved.

But … only a few days ago, this bureau learned there was a T-Ball World Series.

You could have knocked me over with a first-baseman’s mitt.

For the great unwashed, know that this is a 6U T-Ball league/organization. That means 6 years old and under.

That means that small people who were getting their diapers changed four years previous are now playing for a “world championship” in competitive sports.

Also, there are as many little boy “World Series” as there are hairs on your head. The Little League World Series for mostly small people 11-12 that you see on television is legit; the rest, well, it’s only the “World” series for whatever the grownups decide the “World” is. (Follow the money.)

Again, if you are not aware, T-Ball is a sport that involves putting a baseball on a stick, or “tee,” and the youngster attempts to hit it. The ball is not thrown; it is sitting there. No change-ups or sliders or heaters.

And the little person hits it, in theory, and runs, and that is when the basic rules of baseball come in.

So you will never hear a fan say, “I wonder how he’s going to pitch him next time?” And you don’t wonder how the pitcher might work the lineup the next time through because there IS no pitcher.

Also, you can’t blame the home plate umpire because there isn’t one, not calling balls and strikes, anyhow.

Never would I have believed this, but my friend Hooks, a Baseball Guy, told me that parents bring sound systems and blare ‘Walk Up” music as the guys come to the plate. The big leagues and most colleges now play Walk Up music when the hitter is coming to bat. It’s the hitter’s preferred song.

And it is one of the stupidest things ever in history. Personal opinion.

But for a guy who is less than 6? It is ever more stupider, which isn’t even a word but which describes the insanity of this phenomenon.

They are one step removed from Crawl Up music. These kids are literal Diaper Dandies.

What is Walk Up music for a 6-year-old. Old McDonald Had a FarmHow Much Is That Doggie In The WindowItsy Bitsy Spider?

Understand that these teams TRAVEL to other states to hit a ball off a tee and play something like baseball. There are real dollars involved in gas and meals and hotels. They have legit mascot names when they should be the Westside Toddlers or the Eastside Pants Wetters, the Southside Knee Scrapers or the Northside Trike Riders.

Mercy.

I understand how important little boy baseball is. Exactly 18 years and one week ago today when I was the ‘coach’ of my last Little League team, if I’d have walked out and talked to Scarf one batter earlier, just One Batter earlier, we’d have been playing for the state title. I’m sure of it. Instead, I didn’t. Kept sitting on the bucket and hoping. Thought I was doing the right thing.

And Evangeline beat us, 3-2.

I live with that every day of my life.

But the difference between Scarf and T-Ball is that my guys were 15.

About to start driving cars. Twice the age and then some of T-Ball “World Series” guys.

When you’re 6, shouldn’t you be just playing and running in the wrong direction, picking clover in the outfield, and looking to see what’s on the snack wagon?

Wouldn’t a guy or girl who’s 6 prefer a snow cone or a Frito Pie to a mythical base hit or a “World Series” title?

They would. I was 6 once. And I know.

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu


Two top Louisiana Downs administrators depart track’s leadership

SHAKEUP NEAR THE TOP:  The casino manager and general manager of racing have left Louisiana Downs in apparently unrelated moves this week.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Mitch Dennison’s stay as General Manager of Racing at Louisiana Downs was, in racing terms, as quick as a five-furlong race.

Dennison resigned Tuesday, three months after being hired.

“It is,” Dennison confirmed to the Journal, when asked if it’s true he is no longer with the Downs.

“Mitch is a fantastic person, but right now I really can’t comment,” said Kevin Preston, Founder and President of Premier Gaming Group, which bought Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack in January. “We have a fantastic racing team…I had a great meeting with them (Wednesday) morning. We will not miss a beat on the racing side.”

To join Louisiana Downs, Dennison left a successful career as an assistant to Steve Asmussen, North America’s winningest thoroughbred trainer. Dennison comes from a racing family. His father is a starter at Gulfstream Park in Florida. Dennison’s mother was a horseman’s liaison, and gap attendant, at Churchill Downs.

The 34-year-old from Louisville, Ky., was well-regarded by those on the Downs’ backside. Trainers expressed appreciation of Dennison’s willingness to hear their concerns, as well as their ideas on how to improve racing at the 48-year-old track.

Kato Moy, who was recently hired as General Manager of the casino side of Louisiana Downs, is also no longer with the property.

“Kato has been a dear friend since 1992 when we started together in gaming,” Preston said. “We were together when I met my wife and he and I have been extremely close. Unfortunately, some family matters came up that he needed to address, and we are supporting him 100 percent.” 

Louisiana Downs’ current thoroughbred meet ends Sept. 27. The track announced early this year it would bring back the high-stakes Super Derby that attracted high-profile horses and horsemen during the height of the Downs’ history, but other than a Sept. 10 date, no additional information about the purse or related considerations has been revealed.

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com


LIVing large as golf season winds down

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Another week, another profit on the links for Lang’s Locks. And, dang, we barely missed another massive haul. We won nearly two units and had win bets on the runners-up on the PGA Tour (Sungjae Im) and Korn Ferry Tour (Taylor Montgomery). What could have been!

However, we will never complain about a profit. We’re up more than 31 units on the year. That’s remarkable. We’ll do our best to give some back this week with three different Tours (including LIV).

Not feeling much on the PGA Tour this week, but we hit the European Tour pretty hard and have a foursome of win tickets in play at LIV’s third event.

The PGA Tour field isn’t terrific and things will get very interesting after the FedExCup is complete. Who will stay and who will bolt? Until then, let’s see if we can grind out another profitable week! Good luck!

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week recap: +1.8 units

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

PGA TOUR

Top 20 bet

Dylan Fritelli, .1 unit, +650 (FD)

EUROPEAN TOUR

Hero Open

Top 20 bets

Oliver Wilson, .9 units, +850 (FD)

Jacques Kruyswijk, .7 units, +600 (FD)

Brandon Stone, .5 units, +360 (FD)

Callum Skinkwin, .5 units, +200 (FD)

Scott Jamieson, .5 units, +360 (FD)

Andrew Wilson, .4 units, +900 (FD)

LIV GOLF

Bedminster

Win bets

Sam Horsfield, .1 unit, +4100 (FD)

Charles Howell III, .1 unit, +3350 (FD)

Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra, .1 unit, +11000 (FD)

Henrik Stenson, .1 unit, +8200 (FD)

Contact Roy at RoyLangIII@yahoo.com


In a snap, Nieves went from riding high to not riding

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

 Ten days ago, jockey Emanuel Nieves was feeling good.

He had earned more than $1 million this year and was the third-leading rider at Louisiana Downs.

Then came 2:43 p.m. and the third race, on a scorching hot July Saturday. Eight fillies and mares were getting ready to run about seven and one-half furlongs on the turf.

The starting gate opened, and Nieves soon settled his mount, Sneek Peek, into third place. That’s where they ran for much of the race, staying within striking distance of the two pacesetters.

As the field turned for home, Nieves swung his No. 7 horse to the outside, and moved into second. By mid-stretch, the 6-1 betting choice was in full stride, and gaining on the tiring favorite, Empty Net.

“Everything was perfect,” Nieves remembered.

Until it wasn’t.

“She just broke the leg, and you don’t have time for anything at that point.”

Horse and jockey crumbled in the path of six other horses, and immediately in front of veteran jockey Calvin Borel and his mount, The Missing Piece.

“I got lucky,” Nieves said. “She went over the top of me, and I did not get run over by nobody. Thank God.”

Nieves spent the next two nights in the hospital. After a battery of tests, his most severe injury was a broken right arm.

As bad as this accident was, Nieves says it wasn’t as bad as when he went down three years ago. That was early in the 2019 meet, when Nieves was sitting tall in the saddle.

The Puerto Rico-born jockey was coming off his first riding title, to go along with a career-high $1.8 million dollars in earnings.

But just one week into the meet, he suffered a career-worst injury.

“When we broke from the gate, someone came down on me and dropped me,” Nieves said. “I broke my shoulder, and also hurt my hand and knee. I was home for six months. I had been riding for 10 years and thank God, I had never had to have surgery. But that’s what happened that day.”

Just like that, Nieves was outside the rail. All he could do was look. And even that was difficult.

“I didn’t want to watch the races, because I wanted to be there,” he said. “I saw a lot of horses that I had ridden that were winning races. I just had to wait.”

Nieves’ patience was rewarded. Last year, after a sub-par 2020, he had his second-best year financially, earning more than $1.6 million.

“I work hard,” the 29-year-old said. “Everybody knows I work hard every day. It doesn’t matter if I win one race or 20 races, I’m (at the track) every day. My agent always tells me to be good with everybody and be out there every day. “

Nieves’ work-ethic was born when he was young. He’s learned the craft which has provided a comfortable living for him, his wife, their two-year-old son, and a soon-to-be-born daughter.

“My daddy and me, we always had horses. They raced in Puerto Rico. I always loved horses. Him and my mom always told me to go to the jockey school. I knew the leading rider over there for many years, and he’s the one that brought me to the school.”

After two years of learning, Nieves was on his own. He began riding in the United States in 2012, at Finger Lakes in Farmington, New York. But it wasn’t long until he got the call to come south. Nieves has been riding at Louisiana tracks ever since.

“I’ve been to every track in Louisiana, and I always do good. My first time in New Orleans (Fair Grounds) was last winter. I won 30 races, so I enjoyed that.”

One of the trainers Nieves rides for is Joey Foster, who knows a thing or two about success. Six times since 2013, Foster has been ranked among the Top 100 trainers in the country.

“He puts himself in the right places, not the wrong places,” Foster said of Nieves’ riding style. “When the gates open, it’s dangerous out there. He puts his horse and himself in a good position and doesn’t get in a lot of trouble. It’s just a couple of minutes long, and a lot of (things) can go sideways real fast. He’s a smart rider because he takes care of your horse and puts himself in a good position where he can get all the run that’s possible out of the horse.”

Foster believes another reason for Nieves’ success is that Nieves continues to learn from his agent, Ronald Ardoin, who retired with 5,226 wins and is among a group of elite jockeys in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

“When Emanuel messes up, Ronald will damn sure scold him. And so will I,” Foster said. “But we’re all human. We all make mistakes sometimes. But there aren’t many with Emanuel. There aren’t a lot of excuses when he comes back (from a race). He’s honest. He will not lie to you. He is a hard worker.”

Nieves makes his home in Opelousas, where he is recovering from his most recent spill. Nieves expects to miss the rest of the Downs’ meet, but looks forward to getting back on the track.

“I love competition,” Nieves said. “I always want to be the leading rider. Some people say they don’t want to be this, they don’t want to be that. But when you are the leading rider one time, you always want to be there. That’s the best thing that can happen in your life is to be the leading rider.”

Until that 2019 accident, and his latest spill, Nieves may have taken his sport, and his career, for granted. Not anymore. He now appreciates each bugle call, each mount, and each turn into the stretch.

“Every race I pass the wire (finish line), I say ‘Thank God’ for letting me pass the wire. Thank God we are safe, because racing is pretty dangerous.”

Louisiana Downs races Saturday-Tuesday. Weekend post time is 1:45. Weekday post time is 3:05.

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com

Submitted photo

Mr. Menu is an advertising company that produces in-house and take-home menus for locally owned restaurants statewide. The menus are full color, printed on heavy stock paper and provided to the restaurants at no charge. The menus cycle every three to four months and they allow advertisers to speak to the customers of popular locally owned restaurants.

Mike Whitler became the owner/operator of Mr. Menu in 2006, and has since grown the business to include dozens of menus and hundreds of advertisers across the state of Louisiana.


SBJ conducts Q & A with Caddo Schools Superintendent

Dr. T. Lamar Goree – Caddo Parish Schools Superintendent

JOURNAL STAFF

You could say Dr. T. Lamar Goree was destined to become an educator. After all, both his parents were career educators in Caddo Parish Public Schools.

A product of Caddo Parish schools, Dr. Goree began his career as a math teacher in Georgia before moving to Texas, where the Huntington High School graduate was a teacher, principal, and administrator – most notably as Area Superintendent with Mansfield Independent School District.

In December 2013, Dr. Goree returned to his hometown district to take on the role of Superintendent of Caddo Parish Schools – and the rest, as they say, is history. Dr. Goree, now the longest-serving superintendent in more than 30 years, was named the 2019 Louisiana Superintendent of the Year.

In Part Two of our preview of the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, the Journal reached out to Dr. Goree to get his answers to some important questions facing administrators in today’s public education field.

SBJ: What do you think your biggest accomplishment has been since taking over this role?

LG: One of the biggest highlights over the last nine years has been the creation of the Transformation Zone. When I entered the role of Superintendent, I was immediately met with the task of keeping 10 schools from state takeover.

The Board allowed staff the freedom to work with the state to develop a comprehensive plan to address these long-neglected schools and put in place innovative programs to turn around school performance. The Transformation Zone was launched in 2014. The Zone took long-standing issues including teacher quality, school climate and culture, and student behavior and tackled them head-on.

The results were powerful. Arrest rates at high schools in the Zone went from 400 the previous year to 10, eight of the 10 schools exited failing status, schools became inviting places that embraced the parents and community members as partners and the numbers of certified teachers in classrooms increased at incredible rates.


SBJ: What is the biggest challenge you are now facing as Superintendent?

LG: Teacher recruitment and retention is a concern affecting districts across our nation — including right here in Caddo Parish.

Among the single greatest indicators of student success is having a highly effective, engaging teacher. Therefore, the stakes are incredibly high. Today, the greatest majority of teachers receiving certification today are doing so through alternative certification programs where they are coming from another degree field. Still, districts are not receiving the numbers of applicants we need.

SBJ: What is the biggest challenge facing teachers?

LG: These recent years have been nothing short of difficult. The demand that comes with students who have distinct needs following the pandemic not only academically but socially and mentally asks a lot of teachers. Further, teachers over the years have been asked to do more and more. This is a time to lean in and have some candid conversations about where they are in this moment and how we can support their time in the classroom.


SBJ: What is the biggest challenge facing students?

LG: Mental health is absolutely top of mind regarding students and their wellbeing. Even before the pandemic, high school students were surveyed on their issues. Overwhelmingly, mental health was the most often cited concern. And those findings have only increased since this time.


SBJ: What steps are being taken to ensure the students’ safety on the campuses?

LG: Student and staff safety is the top priority of our school system. If students and staff do not feel safe, they cannot focus on learning. We have made strides in recent years to invest in enhanced physical security at campuses to limit who can come on campuses. Caddo also continues to train our principals, teachers and staff including drills and mock scenarios.

Further, our district has law enforcement officers on every campus as well as security coordinators and district staff dedicated to campus safety. We also work with law enforcement to collaborate on training opportunities for their members as well as work through our crisis response plans. 


SBJ: Teachers nationwide are leaving the profession at an alarming rate. How is this impacting your school district and what can be done to meet this challenge?

LG: Educators leaving the profession or not entering the profession at all is a source of great reflection for not only myself but other superintendents and the work we do as a whole. Caddo continues to actively recruit while reviewing our salaries and benefits to ensure we are competitive.

 

SBJ: What is your message to teachers, parents, and students going into the 2022-2023 school year?

LG: First, we are so excited to welcome our families back starting Aug. 3. This is a year of great hope and promise for our district. Between increased and updated technology, top-rated curricula and resources and well-trained teachers, we have the right people in the right places with the right resources to provide students with what they need for success. It’s going to be a great year!

SBJ conducts Q & A with Bossier Schools Superintendent


Get ready for some fun in the sun this weekend

JOURNAL STAFF

Don’t let the current heat wave stop you from getting outside this weekend. If you do, you’ll miss out on some fun activities planned over the next few days.

Just be cautious when battling the sweltering heat – drink lots of fluid, wear loose-fitting clothing (unless you’re in a bathing suit), or strap one of those popular compact fans around your neck.

Enjoy an outdoor movie, run around in the sprinklers, or have some fun in the sun while raising money for a worthy cause.

Friday, July 22

Champions Splash Bash: Join the Holy Angels Champions by the pool at this annual fundraising event at Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club (578 Spring Lake Drive) from 6-8 p.m. Fun in the sun will include a cannonball contest with resident judges, burger bar, bingo, and door prizes. Ticket choices range from the Splash Bash Package (Best Value at $40 includes entry, two bingo cards, and burger bar); Burger Bar Package ($32 includes entry and burger bar); Bingo Package ($10 includes entry and one bingo card); Entry Only ($5 includes entry). Adult and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase at the event. For information and tickets, go to www.laholyangels.org. Holy Angels is a residential and training campus for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities located in Shreveport.

Twilight Talkies: Enjoy an evening with family on the lawns of the Norton Art Gallery as the Shreveport landmark hosts the latest of its movie under the stars. Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” will begin at 8 p.m. Be sure to get there early to find the ideal spot for your blankets and chairs. Food trucks setting up at 6 p.m. include Tasty Treats, Yeero-Yeero, Happy Belly’s Italian Ice, and Mama’s Popcorn. Norton Art Gallery is located at 4747 Creswell Avenue.

Saturday, July 23

Sprinkler Day: Have fun in the sun – and cool off in the sprinklers – as Norton Art Gallery is hosting Sprinkler Day from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. that will include local food trucks Onos Hawaiian Grill, Hot Dawg Hut, Frios Gourmet Pops, Dripp Donuts and Baskin Robbins. Norton Art Gallery is located at 4747 Creswell Avenue.

Keeping Your Cool in the Heat

If you’re planning on getting outside for any activities this weekend, please follow these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed.”

  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink; muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness
  • Pace your activity – start activities slowly and pick up the pace gradually
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down
  • Seek medical care right away if you or someone you’re with has symptoms of heat-related illness


Blue Goose season ends with a whimper and not a bang

FREE KICK: LA Blue Goose midfielder Jayson Frink awaits a Texas United free kick.

By DAVID ERSOFF, Journal Sports

LA Blue Goose Soccer Club finished in fifth place (out of six teams) in its first season in the US League Two after recently dropping its final three games of the season against the top three teams in the division. The season, which started promising with a 3-0 win against the Little Rock Rangers and a close 1-0 loss to the undefeated champions, Texas United, ended with a 3-9-1 mark.

On July 7, in their third match against the Texas Rangers, the injury plagued Blue Goose fell 5-0, in a one-sided game, that saw Texas United clinch the title and a playoff berth.

Blue Goose’s next game was scheduled for July 13, against Mississippi Brilla. Fifteen minutes before game time, lightning was detected within the 10-mile protected rule. The game went on a 30-minute delay, but every few minutes more lightning was detected with more delays. Mother Nature then opened up the skies and the game was cancelled.

Their final game was played July 16 at Clinton High School in Mississippi against second-place Mississippi Brilla.

The game started well for Blue Goose, as they kept the score at 0-0 through most of the first half, even having a couple serious challenges at goal. Keeper Shae Wirt had five solid saves early in the half, with one goal disallowed because of an offsides call.

In the 39th minute Brilla forward Miguel Fernandez hit a rocket from distance, assisted by Marco Astorga, to put them on the scoreboard 1-0. Shortly before the halftime whistle Brilla winger Ocho Fasteen crossed the ball to Dom Gibson, who calmly finished it for what ended up being the final score of 2-0.

The second half was a bit more evenly played, aided by a red card given to a Brilla player. They played the last 30 minutes a man down. Blue Goose forward Samuel Scarth had two solid shots on goal denied by the Brilla keeper.

Blue Goose’s season leader in goals was Juri Schlingmann with six, followed by Johan Arevalo and Scarth with four goals each. Nico TheBerge led the team with four assists, followed by Scarth with three and Gerardo Martinez and Arevalo with two each.

Brett Ekperouh led the team with 43 saves and a 2.14 goals against average, followed by Wirt, who had 12 saves and a 2.31 GAA.

Blue Goose hopes to build on this year’s successes, and learn from the failures, to have a stronger second season next summer.

Contact David at DErsoff@BellSouth.net

Photo courtesy by Texas United


When you’re on a roll, you hit the Cazoo Classic

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The train kept chugging along last week as the best Top 20 bets in both the British Open and the Barracuda Championship cashed. We didn’t hit for 23 units like the prior week, but we added more than 3 units to our season profit. 

A little lighter slate this week despite three events, but we are eyeing the Cazoo Classic on the European Tour … well, just because!

We did spread five win bets around the Korn Ferry Tour event. Good luck!

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week recap: +3.17 units

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

PGA TOUR

3M Championship

Win bets

Sungae Im, .2 units, +2000 (CAE)

Matthew NeSmith, .1 unit, +5500 (MGM)

Top 20 bets

Tom Hoge, .4 units, +350 (DK)

Doug Ghim, .4 units, +320 (CAE)

C.T. Pan, .3 units, +290 (FD)

EUROPEAN TOUR

Cazoo Classic

Win bet

Callum Shinkwin, .1 unit, +5500 (MGM)

Top 20 bets

Jens Dantorp, .4 units, +250 (MGM)

Simon Thornton, .2 units, +1400 (MGM)

KORN FERRY TOUR

Price Cutter Championship

Win bets

Taylor Montgomery, .1 unit, +3025

Pierceson Coody, .1 unit, +3470 (DK)

Erik Barnes, .1 unit, +7050 (DK)

Yechun Yuan, .1 unit, +3470 (DK)

Byeong Hun An, .1 unit, +9900 (DK)

Contact Roy at RoyLangIII@yahoo.com


Downs’ GM of Racing has learned from the very best

RACING GURU: Mitch Dennison arrived at Louisiana Downs this season with a deep knowledge of the sport gained from his association with two of America’s legendary horsemen.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Imagine getting an up-close look at horses trained by two of racing’s Hall of Famers — and being only 16.

Mitch Dennison doesn’t have to imagine that life. He’s lived it.

“My mother was the gap attendant at Churchill Downs,” Dennison remembered. “The gap she worked was the D. Wayne Lukas gap. I remember watching (Lukas) on this gorgeous pony, with a whole group of nine or 10 riders. They were standing at the gap. (Lukas) walked up to me on his pony, and let us walk around his barn to look at horses, and to pet horses. I was seven or eight years old. He really inspired me when I saw how he handled himself — on the business side as well as (being) a trainer.”

A few years later, Dennison was ponying at Churchill Downs. “The (Steve) Asmussen horses, when they came over with the braids in their manes — with these beautiful white bridles — these horses were walking over to the frontside. I said, ‘I want to be in that barn.’ I told one of the people I was working with, ‘I want to work with that trainer.’ The girl said, ‘You can’t do that.’ I said, ‘Watch me.’”

A couple of years later, the girl was watching as Dennison worked for Asmussen, thoroughbred racing’s all-time winningest trainer.

Originally from Louisville, Ky., Dennison has brought his love of horses — and horsemen — to Louisiana Downs. As the General Manager of Racing, Dennison serves as a liaison between people on the backside, and track management.

“My goal is to revitalize racing in the state, as well as at Louisiana Downs,” Dennison said. “As GM of Racing, I’m supposed to have a partnership between the company and the horsemen. The majority of places have horsemen that respond directly to a casino person. D. Wayne Lukas says (the racing industry) has a lack of leadership and accountability . . . He says we have corporate people in management positions who do not understand horse racing, horses, and horsemen.”

But the question has to be asked: Why would Dennison leave the Asmussen barn after 12 years as a right-hand man for the sport’s best trainer?

The answer is found in a two-year break Dennison took from racing. When he returned, his desire was not so much to get a horse to the winner’s circle as it was to ensure the horse — and those who took care of it — got treated right.

“I knew I wanted to be in the industry, but I came back with different goals,” Dennison said. “I was more intrigued and involved with the integrity and safety of horse racing and started to include myself in the horsemen’s meetings and association meetings from my position as an assistant.”

Those goals have led Dennison to Bossier City, where he has managed Asmussen’s stable in the past.

Dennison plans on taking what he’s learned from the renowned trainer and using it to help him become the best GM of Racing.

“Steve Asmussen has taught me leadership, as well as sportsmanship. The horsemanship inside his operation — which obviously shows in the results — is the horse first. It has been a pleasure working for him for such a long time. His attention to detail, and the leadership and organizational skills in his operation, made me the person I am today.”

And Dennison has the support and confidence of his former boss.

“I am very excited that they would recruit somebody with Mitch’s perspective into the frontside,” Asmussen said. “He’s got a great work ethic and is very knowledgeable. I think he will be a great service to racing from that position.”

Even though Dennison is in management, don’t look for him to be working inside Louisiana Downs very often. At his core, Dennison is a man of the horses.

“I’m not a corporate guy who comes from a corporate company. I want to be out there with the horsemen. I want to be out there watching training in the morning and managing it when things are going on at the track . . . that’s what really makes a difference. You can’t be in an office and know how the backside functions and what’s going on day-to-day if you’re in the office.”

However, Dennison’s new job will allow for perhaps a bit more rest. When working for Asmussen, Dennison would get up at 3:45 a.m. and be at the track at 4:30.

“I’m never going to be a person who sleeps in. A little more balance is what I’m looking forward to.”

And Dennison usually does what he sets out to do. Just ask that girl at Churchill Downs.

Louisiana Downs races Saturday through Tuesday. Weekend post time is 1:45. Weekday post time is 3:05.

Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com

Submitted photo

Mr. Menu is an advertising company that produces in-house and take-home menus for locally owned restaurants statewide. The menus are full color, printed on heavy stock paper and provided to the restaurants at no charge. The menus cycle every three to four months and they allow advertisers to speak to the customers of popular locally owned restaurants.

Mike Whitler became the owner/operator of Mr. Menu in 2006, and has since grown the business to include dozens of menus and hundreds of advertisers across the state of Louisiana.