12/15/2004 1:00AM

Evangeline track report


The old Evangeline Downs in Carencro, La., will not sit vacant after live racing begins at the track's new site in Opelousas, La., in February. As it is now, the old Evangeline will continue to operate as a training center, but its management will change. Charles Ashy Jr., a former vice president with the old Evangeline, will be the general manager of the Evangeline Training Center.

Peninsula Gaming, which owns the new, slots-rich Evangeline, will operate the old Evangeline through Dec. 31. The old site will then revert back to its previous owners, a corporation that includes the Moody family, on Jan. 1.

Ashy said there are about 260 horses on the grounds now, and he expects about 150 more to move in right after the new year. One trainer showing interest in the facility is Gammy Vazquez, who trains for Michael Gill, the leading owner in North America.

"The [old] owners wanted to do something with the property, and with it already set up and operating, they asked me to come back and work for them and run it," said Ashy, who in recent times has been a jockey agent. "It's been operating as a training center in the off-season for well over 10 years, and now, when we take over, it's going to be a year-round training center. It's one of the few training centers in the country that has a 40-year history as a racetrack. It's one of the safest surfaces in North America."

Evangeline has a seven-furlong oval and 960 stalls, said Ashy.

The old Evangeline will benefit the new Evangeline.

"The biggest issue I see for 2005 deals with limited stall space," said Jason Boulet, the new racing secretary for Evangeline. "We have nearly the same number of stalls here that we had at the Carencro facility, but the demand for those stalls will sharply increase. It is good news, however, that the old facility will be turned into a training center. That should help reduce some of the issues involving stalls."

* The new Evangeline is scheduled to install a turf course in 2006.