The exhilarating thunder of the hooves as the quarter horses race toward the finish line will soon be heard as the opening of Quarter Horse season starts on April 26 at Delta Downs in Vinton, La. 

The season will end July 13 and like the races which end in less than 20 seconds, it will be over before everyone knows it.

After the opening first week of the season, races will be regularly Wednesday through Saturday with postimes beginning at 6:45 p.m. through 10:30 p.m with about 10 races per night.

Stakes races are where the money is for horse owners. The Delta Dash of 250 yards with a $20,000 purse and the Vinton Stakes with a $50,00 purse will be on opening night.  The following day, on Saturday, another stakes race, the John Alleman, named after a jockey, will have a $50,000 purse.

PrintThe trials for the Laddie and Lassie Stakes for Louisiana bred two-year-old horses are on May 3. The 10 fastest horses will run in the Lassie on May 24 and the Laddie on May 25.

The excitement continues on July 4th with the Firecracker Futurity for two-year-old Quarter horses and on July 6 the Firecracker Derby for 3-year-old Quarter horses.

Finally, on closing, the Lee Berwick Futurity which will be the largest purse. The amount has not been determined but last year it was $500,000.

Delta Downs Racetrack, Casino and Hotel is an American thoroughbred and quarter horse racetrack in Calcasieu Parish,  in the southwest portion of the state. The facility is owned by Boyd Gaming which also recently acquired Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La.

The track at Delta Downs opened in September, 1967 under the direction of Lee Berwick. Berwick was primarily looking for a recognized facility to run Quarter Horses, after holding  races at his farm in St. Joseph, Louisiana.

During the early years, both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbred’s ran in a mixed format.

In the 1990s, the track was bought by developer Shawn Scott for $10 million. Not long after, the track changed hands and it was purchased by Boyd Gaming for $100 million. Following the purchase, they made more than $120 million in capital improvements.

Detla Downs was  badly damaged by Hurricane Rita in 2005, but they were able to partially open two months later but did not fully open until a few month afterwards.

Since then, Delta Downs has continued to grow and produced several stakes quality horses.

The track is a 6 furlongs oval. In addition, there is a 550 yards Quarter-Horse chute, in addition to a five-furlong  and 1 1/16-mile Thoroughbred chute. The track surface is a mixture of sand from the Sabine River and clay with a limestone base.

Horses come from all over and there is  stabling for 1,200 horses. The Delta Downs grounds features horse pastures which are visible from the entrance. Draft and miniature horses and Thoroughbreds are on display near the front.

Quarter horses on the fast track to success have included Jes a Game who in 2007 ran 250 yards in 12.831 seconds while in 2012 McM Dashmaster ran 300 yards in 15.001 seconds. Jessalittlecourage won a 330 yard race in May 2011 in 16.354 seconds. Heza Fast Jess and Rumbulling Knight are tied for the record when then ran 350 yards in June 2012 in 17.090 seconds. In July 2011 Executive Precision ran 400 yards in 19.231 seconds and a year later in July 2012 Jls Mr. Bigtime ran the 440 yard race in 21.303 seconds. Finally, Truly Dashin Bye set a record in 2012 when he ran 550 yards in 26.481 seconds, according to information from Delta Downs.

Everyone is encouraged to come out and enjoy the fun while experiencing the feel of the thunder themselves.