05/24/2012 3:38PM

Evangeline Downs: Vera Belle heads Opelousas


Filly and mare turf specialists have center stage Saturday night at Evangeline Downs with the running of the $50,000 Opelousas Stakes. A compact field of six will go one mile in the evening’s eighth race.

Vera Belle could be a slight favorite for trainer David Banks. The 6-year-old daughter of Not For Love was last seen at Churchill Downs when she finished sixth in optional claiming company on Kentucky Oaks Day three weeks ago. She won over the Fair Grounds turf to begin her 2012 campaign and finished fourth in the $100,000 Bayou Stakes there in late March. Kerwin Clark has the call to ride.

Trainer Ronny Werner will send out the very consistent Aquapazza in the Opelousas as the 4-year-old Stormy Atlantic filly attempts to add her solid record on grass. She has missed the board only twice from 10 starts on the surface, including a near miss in optional claiming company in March at Fair Grounds in her most recent start. Jamie Theriot will be in the saddle Saturday night.

The others in the field are Moneigh, victorious over a sloppy Evangeline main track in her last start in a race that was originally scheduled for the grass; Amazing Saint, who has won five of her last six starts, all on dirt; Patty’s Pride, winner on the Lone Star turf last month; and Love Dare, who won an optional claimer over the Louisiana Downs turf earlier this month.