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April 05, 2011

For Immediate Release

 Media contact:
Julie Calzone
(337) 235-2924 ext. 18
Evangeline Downs Racetrack Contact:
Steve Darbonne
(337) 594-3611
46th Annual Thoroughbred Horse Racing Season Gets Underway Tomorrow
(Opelousas, La.) – With the addition of a hotel and event center, Evangeline Downs Racetrack • Casino • 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 tack, 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 tomorrow, April 6, 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 through the slots at the racetrack program. The casino at Evangeline Downs has over 1400 slots 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 13, while the Lafayette Stakes for Two-year-olds will be contested on its usual spot, Labor Day, September 5. 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 stakes schedules,” said 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.” 
Last year’s leading trainer Keith Bourgeois’ longtime assistantAlex K. Dunn will open the meet for the Bourgeois stable. Sam Breaux, runner-up to Bourgeois the last four years, along with Tony Richey and Karl Broberg, along with veterans Victor Arceneaux, Corale Richards, and Edward Johnston each have a large stable and figure to contend for the leading trainer title.
Jockey Shane Sellers, winner of more than 4,200 races and purses of almost $130 million in a career that started at Evangeline Downs is scheduled to ride the entire meet after riding at Delaware Park and the Fairgrounds in 2010. John Jacinto and Diego Saenz, the respective leading riders at Evangeline Downs the last two years, along with Gerard Melancon, Tracy Hebert, and Kirk Leblanc, who have each recorded more than 3,000 career victories and are also former leading riders, add depth and talent to a very competitive riding colony.
Other talented riders who are expected to ride the opening stages of the meet include Eddie Martin Jr., Richard Eramia, Colby Hernandez, and the rapidly improving Jansen Melancon, the 22-year-old son of Gerard Melancon who finished 4th behind Tracy Hebert in the leading rider standings at Delta Downs.
A much milder winter than last year helped the Turf Course be in much better shape and will be in use starting the second week of the season. Evangeline has made upgrades including a new Hotel, which opened last fall.
The Hotel consist of 117 guest rooms, including 27 business rooms with a king bed, 52 rooms with two queen beds, and 17 double queen studio suites, 3 whirlpool king suites, 17 super-king bed suites and 1 Suite with kitchen, living room and two bedrooms with private balcony. It is a four story building featuring a meeting room that will seat up to 60 people, a large indoor swimming pool, an exercise room with an assortment of work-out equipment, a business center and guest laundry facilities.
The Hotel has direct access to the Casino and a complimentary hot breakfast every morning along with free high speed/wireless Internet service in each room and throughout the hotel. Those amenities have made the hotel a destination for vacation and business travelers.
For more information visit or call (337) 594-3000.


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