04/15/2009 11:00PM

Costa Rising vs. Gold Wonder in first turf stakes


Saturday night's $50,000 John Henry will be the first turf stakes in the history of Evangeline Downs. Named for the two-time Horse of the Year who got his start at the old Evangeline Downs some 20 miles to the south, the John Henry was formerly run on the main track before the unveiling of the local grass course at the beginning of this season.

The 1 1/16-mile John Henry drew a deep field of nine, including Costa Rising, who will be attempting to rebound from a disappointing effort in the Delta Downs Gold Cup in his last start. The 6-year-old Costa Rising, a winner of 15 races and almost $900,000, made a successful comeback following surgery over the Fair Grounds turf in late February following 14 months on the sidelines. Although the bulk of his success has come on dirt, the Louisiana-bred Costa Rising is a three-time winner on the grass. Trainer Glenn Delahoussaye has given the mount to Kerwin Clark.

Gold Wonder will be attempting to make it two stakes wins in a row after taking the Allen LaCombe Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds in early March. Trained by Michelle Lovell, Gold Wonder is in the best form of his career, having posting consecutive 93 Beyer Speed Figures, both on turf. John Jacinto, aboard for Gold Wonder's last win, once again has the call.

Lee's Spirit, the winner of the Grand Prairie Turf Challenge at Lone Star Park last year as a 3-year-old, will attempt to get back in the win column for trainer Bob Schultz. He has finished first or second in four of his five turf attempts and most recently finished second to Star Guitar in the $200,000 Premier Championship over dirt at Delta in early February. Don Simington will once again be in the saddle.