Evangeline Downs' Overall Wagering Stable

Evangeline Downs in Carencro, La., concluded its 2003 meet with a nominal decrease in total wagering and a slight increase in attendance. The recently concluded meet was the last at the track before it has the opportunity to supplement purses with income from slot machine gaming. The new Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino is expected to open in St. Landry Parish in March 2004.

Evangeline Downs reported all-source wagering totaled $108,463,742 in 2003 compared with $108,498,368 in 2002, a decrease of $34,626 or 0.03%. On- track attendance 120,884 represented an increase of 2.6% over the 87-day meeting last year.

"Our average purses were $65,000 per day as compared with astronomical numbers at Delta Downs and Louisiana Downs," said Evangeline Downs general manager David A. Yount, referring to two other Louisiana tracks were purses are subsidized by slow machine revenues. "We experienced a slow entry period throughout the months of July and August that we fully expected. Horsemen rested their horses in preparation for bigger pots in the fall at Delta Downs. With shorter field sizes comes a decrease in handle. The average field size was still over nine head per race, and that is a testament to our horsemen, our racing department and racing in this part of the country."

Out-of-state wagering on Evangeline Downs racing increased 2.8%, but there was a 12.66 % decrease in in-state handle. Live on-track handle also showed a decrease of 9.79%.

"We were very pleased with the support by our simulcast outlets throughout the country," said Evangeline Downs director of racing and simulcasting Sean Beirne. "We are disappointed with our in-state numbers. Typically those tend to hold steady year to year, but with the addition of gaming at those facilities it has made an impact on wagering on our product."

Yount said the increase in attendance is due to a new advertising approach directed at a new clientele.

"We went after a new younger crowd in the Lafayette market with our marketing approach in 2003," said Yount. "We were extremely pleased with the results of this effort. Nightly we saw new faces in attendance. A younger demographic came to our facility and was treated to better customer service and a pleasant dining experience. It is to be expected that these people will wager less on racing as they go through the process of learning the game...We must begin the process of cultivating these new people into knowledgeable players."

Jockey C.J. Woodley won his second consecutive riding title with 98 wins, 71 seconds, and 89 thirds from 504 mounts, for an in-the-money percentage of 51%. Woodley's mounts earned purses of $680,325. Keith Bourgeois easily outdistanced defending champion Dale Angelle for the training title, with 65 wins, 53 seconds and 46 thirds from 282 starters, and stable earnings of $492,856.

Fergie's Showtime, a $5,000 claimer who won seven of 10 starts at the meet, was named "Evangeline Downs Horse of the Year." Fergie's Showtime is owned by Kelly Huval and trained by Robert Huval. Regular rider Rex Stokes was on board for six of the seven wins.