Evangeline Downs kicks off its 85-night spring/summer season April 9.

Evangeline Downs kicks off its 85-night spring/summer season April 9.

Evangeline Downs

Evangeline Downs Offers Expanded Stakes

Evangeline Downs will kick off its 85-night spring/summer season April 9.

From Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino

Racing will return to south central Louisiana for the 43rd consecutive year as Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino kicks off its 85-night spring/summer season April 9.

Coming off a record-breaking 2007, which saw sizeable increases in simulcast handle, total handle, and field size average, Evangeline Downs will offer horsemen a beefed-up stakes schedule as part of a daily purse structure of about $200,000 a night.

Evangeline Downs last year averaged slightly more than 10 runners per race last year. If early entries are an indication, the 2008 season should see similar, if not higher totals, as over the first three nights of racing an average of more than 11.5 runners are expected to break from the starting gate. (Evangeline Downs can accommodate 14 horses in the starting gate.)

The expanded stakes schedule is worth in excess of $2 million and includes three new events: the six-furlong Opelousas for 2-year-old fillies on closing weekend; and a pair of state-bred races, the Salute for 3-year-old fillies and the Acclaim for 3-year-old males.

The Opelousas will have a purse of $75,000, and both the Salute and the Acclaim will be worth $60,000. In addition, many of the races received increases from last year; the majority of those are now worth $60,000 compared with $50,000 in 2007.

The fourth edition of "Legends Night," along with the Evangeline Mile, will headline the 2008 stakes calendar. The Mile is the richest race of the season with a purse of $200,000.

Legends Night, a stakes-laden program restricted to horses bred in the Pelican State, honors those who have made an indelible impact and contribution to Evangeline Downs and racing in Louisiana. This year’s edition will feature 11 stakes worth more than $900,000, highlighted by the two $100,000 D.S. “Shine” Young Futurities for 2-year-olds.

“We are excited by the talent gathered here for our 43rd season,” said Steve Darbonne, director of racing operations. “Everyone is optimistic that we will have another excellent 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 Evangeline Downs is known for.”

This year’s meet will once again run through Sept. 1, with racing conducted Wednesdays through Saturdays. Post time will be 7:20 p.m. CDT.