09/21/2005 12:00AM

Closing weekend a wealthy one

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Once, $100,000 represented a significant percentage of an entire season's stakes budget at Evangeline Downs, but in these heady times of slot machines, that much is being offered up in a pair of allowance events and a high-level claiming race on Friday night alone. A total of $290,000 in purses will be available heading into the final weekend of Evangeline's inaugural season at its new slots and racing facility.

In the seventh race of the evening, an entry-level allowance affair for 2-year-olds, Mucho Gato will attempt to remain perfect following a maiden special weight score at first asking. A Valid Expectations colt, Mucho Gato is trained by John Gelner and will be ridden by Steve Bourque, who will need a big weekend to catch C.J. Woodley for top riding honors. Ten victories separated the two in the standings heading into the final week.

Nonwinners-of-two claimers racing for a $30,000 claiming price line in up in the eighth, and Skylist appears to be the one to beat after facing stakes company in the Walmac Matchmaker at Louisiana Downs last weekend. Jason Eads has the call for trainer Eric Guillot.

In the featured ninth race, a nonwinners-other-than affair worth almost $39,000, the powerful Cole Norman stable will send out Storm Heat, who could rule a slight favorite over an evenly matched full field of 12 Louisiana-breds.