Company requested 50 dates for delayed Thoroughbred meet.
Fifty dates for Thoroughbred racing at Evangeline Downs have been requested by track owner Boyd Gaming, the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association announced May 15.
The Opelousas, La., racecourse was originally set to open for its Thoroughbred season April 8 and race through Aug. 29, but the track has remained closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The revised schedule submitted to the Louisiana State Racing Commission lists June 5 as the new opening date, with racing four days a week on a Wednesday-through-Saturday basis. Closing day would remain the same.
Boyd Gaming management applied for 14 days of Thoroughbred racing in June, 19 days in July, and 17 days in August at Evangeline.
May 16 marked the first day horses stabled outside Evangeline Downs and Delta Downs were welcomed back through the stable gates at the two tracks. Since mid-March, no new horses were allowed to enter the racetracks. The horses already stabled there were allowed to remain in place after Boyd Gaming reversed course after originally telling horsemen March 16 they had 48 hours to vacate the premises. Horses resumed training April 13 for the first time since the lockdown after Louisiana District Court judge Sharon Wilson on April 9 dissolved a temporary restraining order obtained by Boyd Gaming that resulted in no racehorse training.
“We’ve had some positive steps in the last month,” said Benard Chatters, the president of the Louisiana HBPA and a trainer at Evangeline Downs. “We were able to get the horses back training, and then today we were able to bring some of the horses back to the racetrack that had been locked out. The regular workout people were back, the outriders were back, and it was a really joyous and refreshing day for me.”
Chatters, who was at Evangeline on Saturday morning, said people were eager to get their horses back to the racetrack, including trainers who ship their horses in for workouts on the track.
Racing has not taken place in Louisiana since Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots ended its meet about a week early March 21.