Evangeline Hikes Purses; Fields Large

Evangeline Hikes Purses; Fields Large
Photo: Evangeline Downs
Evangeline Downs kicks off its 85-night spring/summer season April 9.

Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino has increased overnight purses by more than 5% to bring the nightly average to more than $190,000 effective June 21.

Purses for maiden special weight and allowance races will increase $2,000, while purses for claiming races will increase $500-$1,000, officials at the Louisiana track said June 12. The minimum purse will be $8,000 for $3,500 claimers with conditions.

“Our average field size continues to be one of the top in the nation,” Evangeline Downs racing secretary Jason Boulet said in a statement. “That, along with our exciting brand of racing, we’ve been able to buck the nationwide trend of reduced handle as we are on pace for another record-breaking season here in Cajun country.”

According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, Evangeline Downs averaged 10.35 horses per race for the first 38 days of its 2008 Thoroughbred meet--three or four more horses per race than many tracks that are struggling to fill races. The track cards 14-horse fields whenever possible.

Under the new purse structure, maiden special weight events will go for $24,000 ($32,000 for Louisiana-bred horses); allowance races with conditions will start at $25,000 ($33,000 for state-bred events); open allowance races will be worth $28,000 ($37,000 for state-breds).

A claiming event for $12,500-$10,000 claimers go for $13,000 ($20,000 for state-breds), and a $3,500 claiming race with conditions will be run for $8,000 ($14,500 for Louisiana-breds).

Overnight purse distribution includes the accredited Louisiana-bred slots supplement but not the $1,000 starter bonus offered on each race. Purses and breed development funds are bolstered by revenue from on-track slot machines at Evangeline Downs.

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