Live racing returned to Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino June 29 after more than seven weeks following the May 12 shutdown due to surface concerns.

A total of 94 horses were entered Wednesday night, with the entry box topping 104 for the Thursday program and 101 for the Friday program. Ninety-eight entries were taken for the July 4 card.

"We're averaging about 10 horses per race and that's right about where we were May 12," said Sean Beirne, director of simulcasting and public relations.

Beirne said track management was very pleased with the turnout by the racing fans Wednesday night. "Everything went wonderfully," he said. "We're very pleased to be back to racing and I think all of the jockeys, trainers, and fan are glad it's back.

"We're hearing nice comments from the exercise riders and jockeys about the condition of the surface. In my opinion, the track seemed to be playing fair and it looked like the horses were moving over it smoothly."

Evangeline, located in Opelousas, La., opened for live Thoroughbred racing at its new facility April 7. The track was originally located in Carencro, where the old facility is now used as a training center.

Due to concerns from jockeys and a rash of breakdowns and injuries, the track completely overhauled its racing surface.

To compensate for the lost days of racing while the track was being overhauled, the Louisiana Racing Commission extended Evangeline's season through Sept. 24. The track normally closes Labor Day weekend.

Racing will be conducted five days per week, Wednesday through Friday and on Monday. The track originally raced four days per week, with daily average purses of $165,000.

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