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Evangeline Downs: Legends Night winners setting courses
By Jeff Taylor
BOSSIER CITY, La. – The three heavy hitters from last Saturday’s Legends Night at Evangeline Downs each came out of their races in good order and have their connections putting together plans for the remainder of the summer.
Things are rather cut-and-dried for the Legends Turf winner, String King, according to his owner, breeder, trainer Charlie Smith.
“We’ll go in the Louisiana Cup Turf next month and then the Unbridled on Super Derby Day,” said Smith.
Both the Aug. 17 Louisiana Cup Turf and Sept. 7 Unbridled will be at Louisiana Downs, near Smith’s base in Haughton, La.
String King will once again face Louisiana-breds in the Louisiana Cup Turf before moving out of the restricted ranks for the Unbridled. The 5-year-old is no stranger to open company after finishing second in the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley and third in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz earlier this year at Fair Grounds.
“We’re going to win the Unbridled this year,” Smith said.
Last year String King finished third in the Unbridled as a 7-1 outsider. A wonderfully consistent son of Crowned King, String King earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure that afternoon and has not run a number less than that in his six races since. He earned a 93 Beyer in his 3 3/4-length victory Saturday night.
“I really didn’t know what to expect Saturday, to tell the truth,” Smith admitted. “He didn’t touch his midday feed on race day, and he felt a little warm, so I went out a bought a thermometer. He wasn’t running a fever, but he was so calm and relaxed, which is so unlike him. He stayed that way in the paddock, which again, is not the norm for him. He is usually so hyper. It sure didn’t seem to affect the way he ran. He relaxed early and really came home strong.”
Another who finished full of run on Legends Night was Sunbean in the Legends Mile for 3-year-olds. A Ron Faucheux trainee, he stormed home almost six lengths the best under Corey Lanerie, setting a track record of 1:35.75 in the process. The resulting 96 Beyer is a career best.
“We thought he would run a big one,” said Faucheux. “He was just training so sharply in the mornings. Nothing published, just some two-minute licks and some gallops that were very strong.”
Faucheux trains Sunbean, a son of Brahms, for Brittlyn Stable, who also campaigned the four-time Louisiana Horse of the Year and now-retired Star Guitar. Faucheux says they are exploring several possibilities for Sunbean’s next start.
“He has been pretty busy lately, with the race last month at Churchill and the ship down,” said Faucheux of Sunbean’s unplaced effort in the Grade 3 Matt Winn on June 15.
Faucheux went on to say that the Louisiana Breeders Derby on Louisiana Cup Day against fellow Louisiana-breds and the Super Derby Prelude on Aug. 3 are two races to which they plan to nominate Sunbean.
Legends Classic winner Populist Politics will not be at Louisiana Downs for Cup Day next month, because none of the eight stakes on the card is for older runners on the main track.
“It’s kind of hard to believe,” said trainer Tom Amoss on Tuesday afternoon. “But it is what it is. Populist Politics, said Amoss, “just got back to Kentucky yesterday. It was a long way down and back, and he runs well, fresh so there is no immediate need to pick a race out for him.”
When asked if a return to Evangeline for the meeting’s richest event, the $125,000 Evangeline Mile on Aug. 10, was being considered, Amoss replied, “Absolutely. He obviously likes the track, and the timing would be about right.”
In addition to his Classic win last week, Populist Politics won the Legends Mile in 2011.
Shine Futurity trials held
Also run last week at Evangeline were the qualifying heats for the $120,000 estimated D.S. “Shine” Young Futurity. The 12 fastest qualifiers in each division will square off in the finals on July 27.
In the filly division, Solid Sender was the fastest qualifier after winning her trial in a time of 1:06.67. She is trained by Sam Breaux and was ridden by Gerard Melancon.
On the colt and gelding side, Macandales ran the fastest, covering the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.59. Brett Brinkman trains the winner, who was ridden by Jansen Melancon.
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