NEW RECEIVING BARN AND TOP-NOTCH JOCKEY COLONY READY TO GO
OPELOUSAS, LA – A long-standing Louisiana tradition returns as the 52nd season of Thoroughbred racing at Evangeline Downs will kick off on Wednesday night, April 12 with a nine-race program. It will be the first of 84 racing days for the 2017 season to be run on a Wednesday through Saturday weekly schedule. Post time each night will be 5:40 pm Central Time.
There will be a 24-race stakes schedule at Evangeline Downs in 2017 with purses totaling $1,695,000. The highlights of the stakes schedule include the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track on Saturday, June 3 and Louisiana Legends Night, which will be Saturday, July 8. Legends Night will feature eight stakes races restricted to Louisiana-breds with total purses for those eight races at $750,000.
Evangeline Downs horsemen will be able to use a new receiving barn this season. The new barn was constructed over the winter break and can house up to 70 additional horses on the grounds. New automated hotwalkers have also been installed in the barn area for the horsemen to take advantage of.
Louisiana has a strong history of producing excellent jockeys and the jockey colony at Evangeline Downs will definitely be one of the strengths of the 2017 season. Colby Hernandez is a native of the Lafayette, Louisiana area and he returns to Evangeline Downs this season to try and defend the riding title he won in 2016 with 90 victories from 420 starts. Hernandez is the brother of one of the top riders in the nation, Brian Hernandez, Jr., who won the 2017 Louisiana Derby aboard Girvin and also has another Kentucky Derby candidate in McCracken.
Racing is also a family affair for the Melancons. Father Gerard has long been one of the top riders at racetracks throughout Louisiana, winning 4,582 races in his career and over $78 million in purses. He finished fifth at Evangeline Downs in 2016 with 48 wins from 288 starts. His son, Jansen, is one of the up-and-coming riders in the state as well. Jansen finished 14th in 2016 at Evangeline Downs with 17 wins from 218 starts and had a strong season at Delta Downs this winter, winning 20 races in 182 starts at the Vinton racetrack.
The Louisiana connection is also strong in the Evangeline Downs jockey colony with one of the finest young female jockeys in the country riding here in Ashley Broussard. Broussard finished fourth in the standings in 2016 with 71 wins from 417 starts. Broussard also finished second to Diego Saenz at Delta Downs this winter. Saenz will be part of the excellent Evangeline Downs jockey colony as well.
There are two Louisiana legends that will be riding at Evangeline Downs with Kerwin “Booboo” Clark and Steve “Boudin” Bourque on the grounds this season. Clark has been riding for 40 years and has won 3,016 races and over $52 million in purses. Bourque has won 4,053 races in his lengthy career with over $35 million in earnings. In fact, Bourque passed the 4,000 win milestone last season at Evangeline Downs, getting that historic victory aboard Space Book on July 27, 2016.
One name that will be new to the jockey colony at Evangeline Downs is Tim Thornton. Thornton is a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, but has made his name racing in other jurisdictions, most notably Illinois. He returned to Louisiana this winter and had success at Delta Downs, finishing sixth in the standings with 52 wins from 232 starts. Thornton will begin the Evangeline Downs season as the main rider for the 2016 leading trainer, Karl Broberg.
Broberg is a perennial candidate for leading trainer honors at Evangeline Downs. He won the title for the 2016 season with 49 victories from 191 starters. However, the 2017 season certainly will present some challengers to the crown, as Efren Loza, Jr. is bringing a strong contingent of horses, as is J.R. Caldwell. Loza trained Fear The Cowboy to a win in the $100,000 Evangeline Mile in 2016 and posted a remarkable 50% win percentage at Delta Downs this winter. Caldwell, who trains Grade 3 Super Derby and Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby winner, Texas Chrome, is currently in the top ten in the trainer’s standings at Oaklawn Park.
Silks Clubhouse will be open for each live racing night this season at Evangeline Downs and will feature a buffet offering many different dining options each night as well. On Wednesday and Thursday, the buffet will be offered for $12.99 per person, while the Friday and Saturday price will be $17.99 per person. The Friday and Saturday buffets will be offering a larger selection of items for patrons to dine on. Children are welcome in the Silks Clubhouse and the kids buffet price will be $6.99 each night.
For more information on the Thoroughbred season at Evangeline Downs, visit the track’s website atwww.evdracing.com. Evangeline Downs’ Twitter handle is @EVDRacing and the racetrack is also accessible on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EvangelineDownsRacing.
About Evangeline Downs
Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel is owned by Boyd Gaming Corporation, a leading diversified owner and operator of 22 gaming entertainment properties located in Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Boyd Gaming press releases are available at www.prnewswire.com. Additional news and information can be found at www.boydgaming.com, or www.evangelinedowns.com.