02/22/2005 12:00AM

Evangeline meet opening

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Evangeline Downs, which began operating a slots casino in December 2003, will open for a Quarter Horse meet at its new site in Opelousas, La., on Thursday night. It will be the first meet held at the new track. Evangeline had to move its racing operations from Carencro, La., in order to be eligible to install slot machines. The old Evangeline, about a 20-minute drive from the new track, now operates as a training center.

Evangeline will conduct a 21-night meet for Quarter Horses, racing on Thursday through Sunday and closing March 27. Nightly post time will be 6:45 p.m. Central.

There are three stakes scheduled for opening weekend, with the richest the $100,000-estimated Mardi Gras Futurity on Sunday. Trials for the race were held earlier this month. The $20,000-added Don Cravins Stakes, led by Mr. Mallard, is the feature on Thursday. Alvin Brossette, defending riding champion, has the mount. Among the top trainers at the track are Kenneth Roberts Sr.

The new Evangeline, which is the first casino and racetrack to be built from the ground up, will open its inaugural Thoroughbred meet on April 7.