07/04/2013 11:03AM

Evangeline Downs: Seven stakes for Louisiana-breds on rich Saturday card

Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography
Look At the Time (No. 7) beat String King by a neck in the John Franks Memorial at Louisiana Downs on June 1.

OPELOUSAS, La. – Louisiana’s best are set to converge on Evangeline Downs on Saturday night for the ninth edition of Louisiana Legends Night. Seven stakes worth $100,000 each, a starter stakes worth $75,000, and four $40,000 maiden special weight events bring the program’s purse total to $935,000. All of the races are restricted to accredited Louisiana-breds.

One of the more anticipated matchups of the evening will be the rematch between Look At the Time and String King in the Legends Turf. The two finished 1-2 in last month’s John Franks Memorial at Louisiana Downs, with Look At the Time prevailing by a neck. The final time of 1:34.62 for the mile came within one-fifth of a second of the course record set by Cherokee Circle that has stood for almost 30 years.

“We are going to give it a shot,” String King’s trainer, Charlie Smith, said from his Haughton, La., base near Louisiana Downs. “This will be his first start anywhere else other than Louisiana Downs or Fair Grounds. ... You don’t get that many chances to run for $100,000 against Louisiana-breds. We are going to ship down Thursday and hopefully get him settled in.”

String King is winless in three starts in 2013, but it has not been for lack of trying. Facing open company, the 5-year-old son of Crowned King finished second behind Optimizer in the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley Handicap and a solid third in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap this year at Fair Grounds. String King won half of his 10 starts last year, including three victories in stakes for Louisiana-breds. Richard Eramia, the leading rider at Louisiana Downs, will be up.

Look At the Time made a triumphant return to the races in the John Franks after being idle since a win in the A.L. Erwin Stakes on closing weekend at Louisiana Downs last summer. Trainer Dwight Viator had the 4-year-old Brahms gelding razor sharp for his return.

Look At the Time has won five of 10 career starts and earned $255,870. Bobby Walker will once again be in the saddle.

Sunbean classiest in Legends Mile

One of the shortest-priced favorites on the Legends program likely will be Sunbean in the Legends Mile for 3-year-olds.

A two-time stakes winner against Louisiana-breds early in his career, Sunbean took his game up a notch this spring and competed against top-shelf 3-year-olds in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds and the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. Most recently, Sunbean finished sixth in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs while under the care of Churchill training co-champion Mike Maker. Sunbean is now trained by Ron Faucheux and will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.

Amanecer de Oro faces Southern Dude

The Legends Sprint looks to be a shootout between multiple stakes winners Amanecer de Oro and Southern Dude. Amanecer de Oro is the defending winner of the 5 1/2-furlong dirt dash, while Southern Dude invades from trainer Tom Amoss’s base at Churchill Downs.

“He’s been on the grass more out of circumstance lately versus choice,” Amoss said. “This looks to be a great spot for him. He gets the dirt, 5 1/2 furlongs, and most importantly, Louisiana-breds.”

Eramia has been given the call on Amanecer de Oro by trainer Steve Duke, while Evangeline veteran Gerard Melancon will be aboard Southern Dude.

Classic wide open

The Legends Classic, at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, drew one of its most competitive fields in years.

The evening’s final stakes event has a full field of 12 and brings together the likes of Heavy On Themister, second in last year’s Classic to Star Guitar and twice a stakes winner over the winter; Populist Politics, an Amoss trainee who has won seven times and earned almost $500,000; Lee’s Spirit, a winner over both Heavy On Themister and Populist Politics in the Gold Cup at Delta Downs last October and the Costa Rising Stakes at Fair Grounds in March; and Hud’s Rebellion, a winner of his last three in optional claimers for trainer Andy Leggio.