07/03/2007 11:00PM

Big names sign up for jockey event


The lineup has been set for the Cajun Jockey Challenge July 13 at Evangeline Downs. The riding competition will cap a daylong celebration of the region's rich heritage among the nation's jockeys, both past and present.

Fresh off a track-record mutuel handle of more than $2.2 million last Saturday night on Louisiana Legends Night - an event that brought together the best Louisiana-bred equine athletes - the focus now will shift to those riders with Louisiana bloodlines.

Among the participants will be Calvin Borel and Robby Albarado. The two south Louisiana natives attracted nationwide attention when they piloted Street Sense and Curlin to victories in the first two legs of the Triple Crown.

"We consider this to be the rubber match," joked simulcast director Tracey Coonce. "New York couldn't bring them together in the Belmont, so we are going to do it."

In addition to Borel and Albarado, the cast will include Corey Lanerie, Mark Guidry, Brian Hernandez Jr., Larry Melancon, and E. J. Perrodin.

A strong local contingent also will ride in the challenge, including Gerard Melancon, Tracy Hebert, Steve Bourque, Kerwin Clark, and current riding leader Curt Bourque.

"This thing is really starting to pick up a lot of momentum," said racing secretary Jason Boulet, the architect of the event. "Our Louisiana Legends program was great, but this has a chance to be even bigger."

In addition to ontrack competition, there will be plenty of time for fans to meet with the riders, as an autograph session will be held prior to the races, which begin at 6:20 p.m.

The night also will honor past riding legends who began their careers at the old Evangeline Downs. Shane Sellers, Eddie Delahoussaye, Randy Romero, Ray Sibille, and Ronald Ardoin will all make trophy presentations following the challenge races.

"I think it's great," Ardoin said recently while attending to his agenting duties at Louisiana Downs. "It really recognizes the Cajun influence. I'm excited to be involved."

The competition will consist of four races and will be based on a point system. It will conclude with the ninth race of the 10-race program.