After final Louisiana State Racing Commission approval Monday, officials at Evangeline Downs announced plans to reopen the racetrack portion of the facility on June 29, one day earlier than projected. Work has progressed ahead of schedule and horses began galloping over the revamped surface on Saturday morning. Officials received approval from the commission for a new 2005 racing schedule that will result in the track running 86 of the 88 dates for which it was originally approved. Live racing has been suspended since May 12, when the program was halted after the sixth race. In the fourth race, three horses failed to finish--one was eased, one pulled up lame, and another broke down in the final sixteenth of a mile--according to the official charts. In the sixth race, one horse lost contact with the field and another one broke down in upper stretch, according to the charts. Racing was officially suspended May 18 until the track could be rebuilt."Things are going very well and racing will resume on June 29," said Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino general manager Mike Howard. "We are pleased that the Louisiana State Racing Commission has extended our Thoroughbred meeting through September 24."
Under the revised racing calendar, Thoroughbred racing would resume at the Opelousas oval on Wednesday June 29 and continue through Saturday Sept. 24. Racing would be conducted five-evenings per week on a Wednesday through Saturday and Monday format. The addition of Wednesdays and the extension of the meeting past Labor Day (Sept. 5) will ensure the track runs 86 of the 88 Thoroughbred days previously approved for 2005. There are two Sunday exceptions during this period, Sundays Sept. 4 and 11. On Sept. 4, a mixed program will be run, including three (3) Quarter Horse Races. On Sept. 11, a 10-race Quarter Horse Program will be run featuring the trials for the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders' Sales Futurity.The 2005 fall Quarter Horse dates were also modified. Racing will begin on Saturday Oct. 1, 2005 and will conclude on Saturday Oct. 23, 2005. A total of 15 evenings of racing (including September 11), the same number as previously scheduled, will be conducted on a Thursday through Sunday schedule.