Evangeline Halts Racing to Address Jockeys' Concerns

Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino has suspended live racing until May 19 so officials can address concerns by jockeys about the condition of the racing surface.

Evangeline, located in Opelousas, La., opened for live Thoroughbred racing at its new facility April 7. During a Quarter Horse meet that began in early February, there also were concerns about the condition of the one-mile track.

Evangeline this year relocated its racing operation to Opelousas from Carencro, where the old facility is now used as a training center.

Evangeline general manager Mike Howard said management met with representatives of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the jockey colony the morning of May 13 to discuss the situation.

"Safety is our number one priority, however, the jockeys have concerns and we are addressing their concerns," Howard said in a release. "Evangeline Downs has not and never will race on a surface where jockeys or horses are unsafe."

The May 12 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.

With the exception of a program that was canceled because of severe storms in south central Louisiana, there have been no other interruptions in the Evangeline meet since opening night more than a month ago.