07/25/2013 12:09PM

Evangeline Downs: Shine Young Futurity to show off young talent

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OPELOUSAS, La. – Louisiana’s first major test for 2-year-olds is set for Saturday night at Evangeline Downs, with two divisions of the D. S. “Shine” Young Futurity on tap. Each division is estimated to be worth $120,000 and will be run at 5  1/2 furlongs.

Whata Friend should rule a solid favorite in the filly division of the Shine after being the easiest of qualifiers three weeks ago. Under confident handling by Colby Hernandez, she narrowly showed the way early before drawing out to win by three expanding lengths at the finish in her second start.

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A My Friend Max filly trained by Corale Richards, Whata Friend won her first career start in mid-June, controlling the pace from start to finish. She will break from the outside in the nine-horse field and will once again have Hernandez in the irons.

Jias Pal also sports a perfect 2-for-2 mark, and while not as visually impressive in her trial, since she dead-heated with Hue Blue Bayou for the win, the final time of 1:06.93 was a fifth of a second faster than Whata Friend’s winning time later that evening. Scott Gelner trains this daughter of Lunarpal and Coby Bourque will again ride.

The 12-horse colt and gelding division of the Shine appears to be anyone’s race.

Trial winner Macandales has been installed as the tepid 4-1 morning-line favorite and will be making his third career start for trainer Brett Brinkman. Veteran rider Mark Guidry replaces Jansen Melancon on Macandales, as Melancon stays with Sweetwater Sky, who he rode to a trial heat win. Brinkman also trains Sweetwater Sky. The two will run as separate betting interests.

The third trial winner, Pioneer’s Era, has perhaps the most room to improve, since he will be making just his second career start in the finals. A Time Bandit gelding, he rallied from well back in winning his heat and should once again have ample pace to run at in the final. Bourque will again handle the riding chores on the Gelner trainee.

Stormin Encore could provide some betting value on Saturday, unlike in his qualifier when sent off as the 6-5 favorite. He appears to be the quickest of the quick in the male division and sports some solid connections. A son of Storm and a Half, he is trained by runaway training leader Karl Broberg and will be ridden by leading rider Diego Saenz