08/18/2004 12:00AM

Evangeline track report


With three weeks remaining in the Thoroughbred meeting at Evangeline Downs, thoughts are beginning to turn to Quarter Horses. The transition began this week as racing secretary Warren Groce added two races for Quarter Horses each evening to the normal program of 10 Thoroughbred events.

In addition, there will be a rare Sunday evening of racing this week as the trials for Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Sales Futurity will be conducted. The restricted Grade 1 event is expected to be worth an estimated $350,000, which will make it the richest race ever run here. The final is scheduled for Sept. 6, the last day of the Thoroughbred meet.

Quarter Horse racing begins in earnest on Sept. 16 with a 28-day meet that concludes Oct. 31. It will be the first meeting exclusively for Quarter Horses held here in several years, and is due in large part to the slots facility that has been generating revenue for horsemen since it opened last December.

Track officials released the Quarter Horse stakes schedule earlier this week. A total of 12 stakes will be run during the seven-week season. In addition to the Breeders Sales Futurity, other highlights include the Acadiana Derby and Vermillion Stakes for Louisiana-breds, and the Sunset Stakes and Jim Bowie Stakes for open company.