Longtime Louisiana trainer Eddie Johnston died Aug. 28 following a battle with cancer. He was 74.
Close friend and fellow horse trainer Sturges Ducoing remembered Johnston as a “true friend, very loyal, and totally, totally a family man. He lived for his family—his wife, his kids, and his grandkids—did everything that he could possibly could for them.”
Johnston got his start on the racetrack hotwalking for his uncle, Alex Johnston. He began training in 1981, according to Equibase statistics, and remained a trainer throughout his life. Through Aug. 31, Johnston had won 558 races from 2,988 starts and his horses over the years have collected almost $13 million in earnings. His top horses included Louisiana’s 2015 champion 3-year-old filly Pacific Pink and Louisiana’s 2003 champion older horse Zarb’s Luck.
CILLA BECOMES FIRST BLACK-TYPE WINNER FOR CALIFORNIA CHROME
OPELOUSAS, LA –Evangeline Downs hosted the annual celebration of the Louisiana-bred Thoroughbreds with Louisiana Legends Night on Saturday. The exciting card featured six stakes races, each with a purse of $70,000 highlighted the card.
Persistent rains throughout the week forced all the races to be run on the main track. The Soiree was contested over a muddy track, but a downpour after that race left the card sloppy for the remaining races.
The $70,000 Mademoiselle featured what may have been the most impressive performance of the evening as Cilla powered away to victory. The 3-year-old Brett Brinkman trainee scratched out of the one-mile Soiree to face older fillies and mares in the Mademoiselle. That decision proved fruitful with the sensational turn of foot produced on the far turn. Traveling in mid-pack as Strong Beauty and Southern Beauty battled through fractions of 21.64 and 45.05, jockey Joel Dominguez sent Cilla up to challenge with a four-wide move at the top of the lane. While racing six wide, Cilla stormed away from her rivals to win by 4-1/4 lengths, stopping the timer in 1:03.74. Evangeline Downs Distaff winner Snowball rallied up the rail to finish second and Strong Beauty held on well for third.
Campaigned by P. Dale Ladner, and was bred by the partnership of Brinkman and Ladner. Sired by California Chrome, she is out of the Into Mischief mare Sittin at the Bar. The Mademoiselle victory was the second impressive win over a sloppy track, along with a win at Delaware Park last August.
Cilla returned $19.60 as the winner, $6.20 to place and $4.20 to show. Snowball paid $4.20 to place and $2.60 to show. Strong Beauty paid $4.40 to show. With the $42,000 winner’s prize, Cilla pushed her career earnings to $143,500.
The $70,000 Soiree, for 3-year-old fillies, was contested by a field of just four runners over the one-mile distance. Winning Romance, trained by W. Bret Calhoun, broke alertly and traveled comfortably in tandem with Half Koo Koo for the first half-mile. Jockey Diego Saenz asked his runner for more on the far turn, and she quickly responded. Winning Romance’s lead widened throughout the lane with the winning margin an incredible 20-3/4 lengths. Inawic, who tracked the leaders down the backside, finished second and Tecate Time was along for third. The final time was a hand-timed 1:38.75.
Winning Romance, sired by First Samurai, and out of the Flatter mare Lipstick Junky, returned $2.60 to win and $2.10 to place. Inawic returned $4.00 to place. There was no show wagering in the short field. The Allied Racing Stables, LLC (Chester Thomas) runner pushed her career earnings to $135,441.
The $70,000 Cheval was contested in a torrential rainstorm that arrived shortly before post-time. Chu Chu’s Legacy was quickly away in the one-mile affair, and was never headed, scoring a front-running six-length victory. The winner owned and trained by Allen Landry is a son of Bind, out of the Johannesburg mare Bond’s Babe. Jockey Joe Stokes urged his runner along in splits of 23.59, 47.41 and 1:12.36, before stopping the timer in 1:39.18 for the eight furlongs.
Runner-up Wise Verdict made a move inside of rivals on the turn to get in position turning for home, while third-place finisher Beauregard was well placed throughout, but unable to threaten the leader.
The winner returned $10.60 to win, $6.40 to place and $4.80 to show. Wise Verdict rewarded backers with $9.60 to place and $6.00 to show. Longshot Beauregard paid $13.80 to show. Chu Chu’s Legacy ran his total earnings to $176,350 with the triumph.
The $70,000 Sprint, over a distance of 5-1/2 furlongs, was a family affair as half-siblings Bertie’s Galaxy and Wild Bert battled from the start and finished one-two. Both runners are out of the Wild Rush dam, Wild Bertie, with the winner being the younger brother and sired by Greeley’s Galaxy.
Wild Bert sped through early fractions of 21.86 and 45.04, with Bertie’s Galaxy in close attendance to the outside of the leader. Moving to challenge on the far turn, jockey Diego Saenz swept up with the Ron Faucheux runner to take the lead approaching the quarter pole. The pair steadily drew away through the lane to win by 3-1/4 lengths in a time of 1:03.53. Wild Bertie was well clear as the runner-up, with Laughingsaintssong another 3-1/2 lengths back in third.
Bertie’s Galaxy’s pushed his career earnings to $225,750. Owned by Allen Cassedy and trained by Ron Faucheux, Bertie’s Galaxy was sent off as the second choice at 2-1 and paid $6.00 to win, $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show. Wild Bert returned $7.20 to place and $4.60 to show. Laughingsaintssong returned $5.00 to show.
The $70,000 Turf Distaff was the second straight stakes victory for Offspring. The 5-year-old mare by Into Mischief, out of the Pioneering mare Pioneer Gal, had previously won a stakes at the Fair Grounds. Away in good order under jockey Roberto Morales, Offspring was allowed to settle off the moderate fractions being set by Distractor Factor, traveling just off the leader through splits of 25.06 and 49.68. Saber Cut was up to put pressure on Distractor Factor as Offspring moved alongside, while Quikfast N Ahurry ranged up four-wide past 6-furlongs in 1:14.55. As they straightened away, Offspring surged between rivals to poke her head in front at the top of the lane and fought off her rivals for a 1-3/4 length victory in 1:39.57. Quikfast N Ahurry battled on for second, 1-1/4 lengths in front of favored Net a Bear in third.
Owned by Oak Tree Stable (Bennett E. Powel) and trained by Edward J. Johnston, Offspring rewarded backers with a win price of $7.80, $4.80 to place and $2.60 to show. Quikfast N Ahurry paid $5.60 to place and $3.20 to show, with Net a Bear at $2.40 to show. The career bankroll increased to $219,478 with the winning share of the purse.
The $70,000 Turf was the final stakes race of the night and was won in wire-to-wire fashion by Maga Man. A quick start from the inside post allowed Maga Man, with jockey Kevin Smith, to set reasonable fractions of 48.17 for a half-mile and 1:12.74 for the six-furlong split. With Grand Luwegee in close attendance throughout, Maga Man repelled that challenge at the top of the lane and held sway in the final yards to hold off a late rally up the rail from Jax Man in a time of 1:38.36. The rider of Jax Man, Casey Fusilier, lodged an objection and the stewards also posted the inquiry sign regarding the final yards of the one-mile race. After reviewing the videotapes, the stewards found there was insufficient evidence to change the order of finish.
The 6-year-old son of Musket Man, and out of the Pulling Punches mare Lew’s Gray, runs for the Whispering Oaks Farm, LLC of Carrol Castille. Trained by Steven B. Flint, the winner returned $11.80 to win, $5.20 to place and $3.20 to show. Runner-up Jax Man paid $6.20 to place and $2.80 to show. Grand Luwegee paid $3.20 to show. With the victory, Maga Man increased his career bankroll to $233,960.
For more information on racing at Evangeline Downs, visit the track’s website atwww.evdracing.com and on Twitter @evdracing. Racing continues on a Wednesday thru Saturday schedule until the end of the meet on September 18.
Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel, a property of Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE:BYD), features exciting casino action, live horse racing and fun dining experiences. Evangeline Downs is located in Opelousas, Louisiana, off I-49 on Cresswell Lane at Exit 18.