NEW ORLEANS — Thursday marks the 140th opening day of the thoroughbred racing season at the historic Fair Grounds Race Course.

A 10-day card with a special early post time of 11 a.m. is scheduled, highlighted by the 86th running of the Thanksgiving Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for the fastest older horses on the grounds.

Grandstand admission at the track, the nation’s third-oldest, is free, with Clubhouse general admission set for $7.

Another event highlighting opening weekend is the one-time running of the Fair Grounds Legends Purse on Saturday.

That event will celebrate the 140-year history of the track by pitting contemporary horses outfitted in “throwback” colors of the greatest horses to run in New Orleans — including Black Gold, Whirlaway and Risen Star.

Several other major stakes events are set before the end of the year. After the Claiming Crown event on Dec. 3, other major races include the Louisiana Champions Day on Dec. 10, the Santa Super Saturday on Dec. 17 and the New Year’s Eve card on Dec. 31.

The season continues through April 1, when the Louisiana Derby will cap the closing weekend.

The last weekend coincides with the NCAA men’s Final Four in New Orleans. The track will have several major events, including Starlight Racing on Friday, March 30, the Fair Grounds Oaks Day on Saturday, March 31, and the Louisiana Derby on Sunday, April 1.

After the special post time on Thursday, the normal daily first post will be 12:40 p.m., although there will be several exceptions. More information on the 140th Fair Grounds season can be obtained online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.