Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino’s recently concluded 2007 spring/summer season showed across-the-board gains in several major categories, including total handle, on-track handle, purse distribution, and average field size for the 89-night meet.
The average nightly handle of $1.7 million was more than 9% higher than last year’s $1.5 million average, which represented a gain of more than 32% from the average in 2005.
Despite a reduction of three racing nights, all sources' handle reached an all-time high, with wagering totals of $149,162,803, an increase of more than $6.49 million from last year’s breakthrough season.
On-track handle showed gains as well, with a total of $6,168,301 wagered at the Louisiana track, compared with last year’s $5,829,096. The nightly average of $69,278 was an increase of more than 9% from last year’s average.
Increased business and casino proceeds also drove purses to an all-time level. The nightly overnight purse distribution of $180,000 was more than $10,000 higher than last year’s, and with the improved stakes program, more than $19.4 million was paid out to horsemen.
Nineteen stakes worth more than $1.8 million were contested during the meet, which was highlighted by the $200,000 Evangeline Mile. The average field size for the 893-race meet was more than 10 runners per race.
“Our entire team worked above and beyond the call of duty to make this season a success," said Steve Darbonne, Evangeline Downs' director of racing operations. “Construction of a seven-furlong turf course with a 1 1/8-mile chute is set to begin in the near future, and other improvements are also in the planning stages as we continue to strive to make Evangeline Downs the best place to race and wager.”
On June 30, an all-time record handle of $2,218,014 million was wagered on Louisiana Legends Night III, a program featuring eleven stakes races worth more than $900,000 restricted to state-bred horses. This eclipsed the previous record of $2,182,506 wagered on the 2006 edition of Louisiana Legends Night.
Racing at Evangeline will resume Sept. 27-Dec. 2 and will be conducted on a Thursday-Sunday schedule.