02/19/2014 11:16AM

Evangeline Downs to run inaugural $300,000 Turf Sprint in June


Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La., will be home to one of the richest turf-sprint stakes in North America this summer. The track on Wednesday announced the creation of the $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint, a five-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up to be run June 21.

Evangeline is in its second season under the ownership of Boyd Gaming, which also operates Delta Downs in Vinton, La. Evangeline opens its Thoroughbred meet in April.

Boyd officials have wanted to create a signature race for Evangeline, just as they inaugurated the Delta Downs Jackpot about 10 years ago. The Jackpot was introduced with a purse of $500,000 that has since grown to $1 million. The new Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint will be showcased on a card of five stakes worth $640,000 in total. The program, run on a Saturday, will feature a special afternoon post time as well as a $100,000-guaranteed pick four.

“Turf sprints have become extremely popular in recent years on a national scale, and we are extremely proud to bring one to the southern region of the U.S.,” said Chris Warren, director of racing for both Evangeline and Delta. “We look forward to drawing horses from Louisiana and across the U.S. to run in the Turf Sprint and our strong supporting card of stakes races.”

Other stakes making up the program will include the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for 3-year-olds and up and the $100,000 Opelousas for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf. There also will be a pair of seven-furlong stakes for horses bred in Louisiana.

The field for the Turf Sprint will be limited to 12 starters, with nominations to close May 28.