Graded stakes winners Gantry and Sum of the Parts head a field of 10 sprinters in the inaugural running of the $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint June 21 at Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel.
The Turf Sprint, at five furlongs, tops five consecutive stakes on the Saturday night program in Opelousas, La. It is the eighth on the card with a 7:28 p.m. CDT scheduled post and will be preceded by the $100,000 Evangeline Mile (race 7) and the $100,000 Opelousas Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass.
Gantry, listed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for trainer Ron Faucheux and Brittlyn Stables, looks to rebound from a sixth-place finish in the Shakertown Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the turf at Keeneland April 12. Prior to that, the 7-year-old Pulpit gelding had a streak of three wins and five seconds from eight starts, all in stakes company. Richard Eramia will guide Gantry from post 6.
Pegged at 3-1 is Klaravich Stables' well-traveled Sum of the Parts, breaking from the far outside for trainer Tom Amoss. Favored in his past four starts, the 5-year-old son of Speightstown comes off a second in the Karl Boyes Memorial Stakes June 9 on the Tapeta track at Presque Isle Downs. A two-time winner of the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoneix Stakes (gr. III) over Polytrack at Keeneland, Sum of the Parts has captured two of six starts on turf.
Both Gantry and Sum of the Parts have topped $800,000 in career earnings.
Gantry has a string of sharp breezes at the Evangeline Downs Training Center, including a speed sharpening :35.95 three-furlong drill June 14, the fastest of 27 recorded works at that distance that morning. Sum of the Parts, based in Kentucky, also has been quick in his preparations, breezing a half-mile at Churchill Downs in :47 flat May 30, the fastest of 42 drills.
Louisiana-bred Heitai has won six of his past seven races for trainer Karl Broberg and Frank and Barbara Rowell, including his only previous start on grass in Evangeline's Need for Speed Stakes at five furlongs May 3. The speedster is 7-2 on the morning line with Diego Saenz in the saddle once again.
Lemon Drop Dream (6-1) and Berlino Di Tiger (12-1) are grade III winners adding depth to a strong field.
The Evangeline Mile features Grand Contender, winner of back-to-back grade III events in Texas, and Sunbean, the current king of Louisiana-breds. Amoss trains Grand Contender, the 3-2 morning line choice coming into the Mile in career-best form. Sunbean, the local hero, is also in peak form as he has won five of his past six starts with the only blemish a third-place finish behind last year’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Palace Malice in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) on Louisiana Derby Day.
A dozen fillies and mares are entered in the Opelousas, with Class Included, a two-time stakes winner on grass at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, listed as the 3-1 early pick.
The stakes program kicks off in races 4 and 5 with the Lafayette and Acadiana, a pair of $70,000 races for Louisiana-bred three-year-old horses at seven furlongs on the main track.
$300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint Stakes (Race 8, 7:28 p.m.), 3 & Up, 5 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Berlino Di Tiger (BRZ), M Pedroza, 117, E Caramori, 12/1
2. Snappy Girl (LA), G Murphy, 116, K Broberg, 15/1
3. Redhotrush (LA), T J Hebert, 117, T J Delahoussaye, 20/1
4. Whiskey Bravo (FL), J W Patin Jr., 117, C A Richards, 15/1
5. Heitai (LA), D Saenz, 121, K Broberg, 7/2
6. Gantry (KY), R E Eramia, 121, R Faucheux, 5/2
7. Lemon Drop Dream (KY), R Santana Jr., 124, S M Asmussen, 6/1
8. Solar Charge (TX), K P LeBlanc, 121, E Williams, 12/1
9. Unitas (LA), E Nieves, 117, B A Brinkman, 30/1
10. Sum of the Parts (KY), G Melancon, 121, T M Amoss, 3/1