46th Annual Thoroughbred Horse Raising Season Gets Underway

Opelousas, LA- With the addition of a hotel and even center, Evangeline Downs Racetrack, Casino, and Hotel has developed into an entertainment hot spot in Southwest Louisiana. Anchored by a state of the art facility, which includes a one-mile oval dirt track and a 7-furlong turf track, the racing program has become known as the “home of the biggest fields>” Races have averaged slightly more than 10 runners per race over the past four spring and summer thoroughbred racing seasons, a distinction that only Evangeline Downs can claim. 

The 89-day thoroughbred racing season gets underway April 6th, and runs through Labor Day, September 5. Post time Wednesday through Saturday is at 5:40 p.m. with a special Labor Day post of 3:05 p.m. 

Highlighting the lucrative stakes schedule is Louisiana Showcase Night, a stakes-only program restricted to horses bred in Louisiana featuring six races worth a minimum of $100,000 and totaling 10 events worth almost $1 million. Louisiana leads the nation with its breeding incentive program funded largely though the slots at the racetrack program. The casino at Evangeline Downs has over 1400 slot machines generating revenue for purses and breeding incentive programs. 

Other marquee events during the season will include the Evangeline Mile and the Lafayette Stakes. The “Mile”, the premier event for older horses, will offer a purse of $125,000, up $25,000 from 2010 and be run on August 13th, while the Lafayette Stakes for Two-year-olds will be contested on its usual spot, Labor Day, September 5th. The Lafayette this year will be run on the Turf course for the first time and at the distance of one mile. 

In addition to the surface and distance change, the Lafayette Stakes will feature a $100,000 purse, an increase of $50,000 from last year. More than $1.8 million will be distributed over the 25 black-type events offered in addition to overnight purses of approximately $170,000 a night, the same level offered in 2010.

“We continue to attract a solid group of horses and horsemen with our strong overnight and takes schedules,” says Steve Darbonne, director of racing operations. “Both the backstretch and the nearby training center are at near capacity and the morning workout lists are very long and we hope to once again offer our fans the full fields and exciting brand of racing they have come to expect from Evangeline Downs.”