Is $2 million missing from Louisiana Downs purse? Attorney general 'aware of the complaint'

Greg Hilburn
Shreveport Times

As much as $2 million may be missing in horse racing purse money from Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack in Bossier City, though the owner and state Racing Commission are tight-lipped on details.

A spokesman for Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry acknowledged a "complaint" related to Louisiana Downs but declined to elaborate.

"We are aware of the complaint and are working with the Louisiana Racing Commission and the other parties to resolve the matter," Landry's spokesman Cory Dennis told USA Today Network.

Charlie Gardiner, the executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission that regulates horse racing in the state, sent the following text to USA Today Network: "I have (been) instructed to forward all inquiries to the AG's office."

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Louisiana Downs' new owner Kevin Preston hasn't responded to a request for comment by phone and text.

The discrepancy at the racetrack and casino was first reported by the Shreveport Bossier Journal, an online publication, which reported $2 million is unaccounted for from the Horseman's Purse fund.

The 39th Super Derby at Bossier City's Harrah's Louisiana Downs.

Jay Adcock, one of Louisiana's premier thoroughbred breeders, said he's aware of rumors surrounding the purse fund at Louisiana Downs.

"I don't know any details, but it's a big concern because money from the Horseman's Fund trickles down to everyone," said Adcock, whose Red River Farms in Coushatta has been breeding thoroughbreds since his late father founded the farm in the late 1950s.

"Anything that impacts the health of the industry is something we're all concerned about," Adcock said.

Rubico Gaming, of which Preston is the president, bought Louisiana Downs last fall from Caesars for $22 million after about a year of negotiations.

The Louisiana Racing Commission approved the sale Oct. 26, 2021.

"We are prepared to bring this iconic track back to its iconic status," Preston told the commission then.

Louisiana Downs has roughly 12,000 square feet of casino floor space in addition to the expansive horse racing facility.

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Rubico has been investing in upgrades at the facility since the sale was finalized.

Louisiana Downs opened in 1974. 

During its heyday in the early 1980s, as many as 1.3 million fans attended the track over the racing season.

But the quality of racing and crowds declined with competition from nearby casinos in Shreveport and Bossier City.

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The downs even suspended its signature Super Derby race in recent years, though Rubico has promised to bring the derby back in September.

Louisiana Downs is in the midst of its 84 day live thoroughbred racing schedule with live races scheduled Saturdays-Tuesdays through Sept. 27.

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.