Racing returns to south central Louisiana for the 45th consecutive year as Evangeline Downs kicks off its 2010 meet April 7. The meet, which will feature 89 programs of night racing, will have a new post time of 5:40 p.m. (Central).
Evangeline Downs is coming off a solid 2009 season in which it recorded the largest field size average for an extended meet in North America. The track will offer horsemen a solid stakes schedule as part of a daily purse structure of about $200,000 per night, highlighted by Louisiana Showcase Night, a stakes-only program restricted to horses bred in Louisiana and offering almost $1 million in purses. Other marquee races include the Aug. 11 Evangeline Mile, a $100,000 race for older horses, and two divisions of the John Franks Memorial Stakes for 2-year-olds in the last weekend in July, each worth $100,000 and for colts and fillies, respectively.
Evangeline Downs last year averaged slightly more than 10 runners per race. For the first three cards of the 2010 meet, an average of 11.7 runners are entered in 31 races.
“We are excited by the talent gathered here for our 45th season,” said Evangeline Downs’ director of racing operations Steve Darbonne. “Everyone is optimistic that we will have another strong season, we continue to attract a solid group of horses and horsemen with our strong overnight and stakes schedules and we fully expect them to provide our growing fan base with the exciting and competitive racing product that Evangeline Downs is known for.”
117 horses were entered for the April 7 opening night 10-race program. Thursday’s card has 105 entries, and Friday’s 11 race card offers a 140 entrants, with nine races having at least 12 horses entered.