08/08/2013 11:44AM

Evangeline: Sabercat looks to return to winner's circle in Mile


OPELOUSAS, La. – Sabercat, winless since taking down the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot as a 2-year-old in the fall of 2011, looks to recapture some of that Louisiana magic Saturday night as he takes on six rivals in the $125,000 Evangeline Mile Handicap as the 118-pound highweight. The meeting’s richest event, the Evangeline Mile will go as the 10th of 11 races with an approximate post time of 9:25 p.m. Central.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Sabercat did not run again last year after finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Bluegrass Cat has been far busier this season, having been out seven times. While he has not visited the winner’s circle, Sabercat has been steady, including a surprise third-place performance at 36-1 in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in mid-April. He figures to be a much shorter in price Saturday as he has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite. Gerard Melancon, who has not been on board Sabercat since that Jackpot victory, will return to the saddle.

Asmussen will also send out the Mile’s second starting highweight in Brethren at 117 pounds. While both of Asmussen’s charges are owned at least in part by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Louisiana rules allow same ownership to run as separate betting interests in races worth $50,000 or more.

Unlike his stablemate, Brethren has the benefit of a local start, having finished fourth in the Oak Hall Stakes to fellow Mile entrant Smoke It Right on July 13. A 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor, Brethren is also looking for his first win in 2013. Leading rider Diego Saenz will be aboard Brethren.

It Happened Again invades from Indiana Downs, where he was the easiest of winners in optional-claiming company in his last start. Trained by Tom Amoss for Maggi Moss, the 7-year-old veteran and earner of over $613,000 has won 3 of his 7 starts at the mile distance, and his stalking style should serve him well Saturday night in a race that has ample early pace. Louisiana Downs leading jockey Richard Eramia will journey in to ride.

Smoke It Right, winner of the Oak Hall by almost four lengths, appears to be one of the ones to catch in the Mile. The Benard Chatters trainee has won 3 of his 5 local starts while racing exclusively at sprint distances. Regular rider Carlos Marquez will once again be in the irons.

Unitas also appears to a pace factor in the Mile, as he comes off a victory in the Louisiana Legends Sprint last month. He is a two-time stakes winner at the meeting, also having won the Need for Speed Stakes in mid-May. Mark Guidry will ride.