08/08/2012 2:22PM

Evangeline Downs: Stall hoping Apart comes alive in Evangeline Mile

Barbara D. Livingston
Apart seems to have acclimated well to the heat and humidity of a Louisiana summer.

OPELOUSAS, La. – As backup plans go, Al Stall Jr. seems to have come up with a pretty good one for Saturday night’s $125,000 Evangeline Mile. With his three-time defending Mile champ Star Guitar sidelined with a quarter crack, Stall is going to pinch hit with the graded winner Apart.

This will not be Apart’s first visit to Stall’s home state of Louisiana. Stall shipped Apart in to win the 2010 Prelude at Louisiana Downs and then went on to capture that meeting’s marquee event, the Grade  2, $500,000 Super Derby, a few weeks later. It was Apart’s fondness for the sometimes challenging Louisiana summers that helped Stall make the decision to send the son of Flatter back.

“He seemed to handle the heat and humidity very well,” Stall said. “We shipped him in last week, and he acclimated immediately.”

That may be an understatement. Apart put in his final preparation for the Mile, a four-furlong breeze Sunday morning at Louisiana Downs, and his 47-second clocking was easily the fastest of almost 50 moves at the distance.

“We were pleased with the work,” Stall said. “Hopefully, he’s ready to wake up and run a good race.”

Apart’s last win came on the 2011 Preakness undercard when he captured the William Donald Schaefer Memorial, a race Stall won the year before with Blame. Apart followed that performance up with a creditable third-place finish in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs four weeks later. An unplaced effort in the Whitney at Saratoga completed Apart’s 2011 campaign, and his two starts this year, a fifth in the Grade 2 Alysheba on Kentucky Oaks Day and a sixth to Nates Mineshaft in the Lone Star Park Handicap on Memorial Day, were equally as disappointing.

“He’s got us puzzled,” Stall admitted. “He has never looked better than he does right now, and he continues to train well. We are hoping that maybe the change of scenery will serve him well and maybe get some of his confidence back.”

Stall has given the call to ride Apart to veteran Gerard Melancon.

Imperial Czar in from Calder

Imperial Czar will be making his Louisiana debut in the Mile. Imperial Czar is a specialist of sorts at Saturday’s distance, having won the one-mile American Dreamer Stakes at Calder last summer and also accounting for the Miami Mile at that same south Florida oval this past April. Saul Matos trains the 4-year-old son of Imperialism, and Juan Delgado will be in from Calder to ride.

Imperial Czar has been assigned 117 pounds for the Mile by Evangeline racing secretary Coleman Lloyd. He shares second highweight honors with local Heavy on Themister, and they will each be in receipt of five pounds from Apart.

Free camping Friday night

Tailgating prior to major sporting events is a popular pastime in Louisiana, and Evangeline Downs is getting into the act by offering free camping this Friday night. Campers are invited to park their RVs in the north parking lot with setup time from 2-5 p.m. First race post time is 5:40 p.m. Each camper will receive a free $5 betting voucher good for the evening’s races. RV campers are encouraged to call (337) 235-2924, ext. 12, to reserve a spot.