01/21/2015 4:27PM

Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint set for May 30

Coady Photography
Heitai wins the inaugural Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint last June.

The second running of the $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint will be May 30 as part of a program of five stakes, the Opelousas, La., track announced on Wednesday. The Turf Sprint has been positioned about three weeks earlier than last season, when its inaugural running in late June was won by Heitai.

The Turf Sprint, for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs, offers one of racing’s biggest purses for the division and will be showcased on a special afternoon program that starts at 3:40 Central. The Turf Sprint will be supported by the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for 3-year-olds and up, the $100,000 Opelousas for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass, and a pair of $70,000 divisional sprint stakes for 3-year-olds bred in Louisiana. In all, stakes purses will total $640,000 on the richest card of the Evangeline meet that opens in April.

The Turf Sprint card also will feature a pick four with a minimum guaranteed pool of $100,000. Last year, the all-stakes wager had a final pool of $210,730, according to Steve Kuypers, who oversees racing operations for Boyd Gaming, the Las Vegas-based firm that in 2012 added Evangeline to its racing properties that include Delta Downs.

Evangeline handled $2,280,847 from all sources on last year’s Turf Sprint card, the second-highest handle at the track’s Opelousas location. Evangeline had previously operated out of Lafayette, La. 

“We expect this year’s program to be even bigger and better as we have moved the date to three weeks earlier than in 2014 for the opportunity to attract more horses for the Turf Sprint and the other stakes races on the program,” said Kuypers.

Among other jurisdictions, Evangeline is looking to draw horses out of races like the Grade 3 Turf Sprint traditionally run in early May at Churchill Downs.