12/28/2005 12:00AM

Kaenel returns to scene of his spill

Evangeline Downs
Premier Dance runs New Year's Eve in the Diamond Jo at Evangeline.

Premier Dance runs New Year's Eve in the Diamond Jo at Evangeline.

Kyle Kaenel returned to Turf Paradise, the scene of his near-career-ending injury, and won with two of his four mounts here on Monday, Dec. 19.

Kaenel, 17, rode back-to-back winners on his first two mounts, Mane Task ($3.60) and Supervelous ($4.20), before finishing third twice.

"It's good to be back," said Kaenel.

It was his first visit to Turf Paradise since he suffered several broken vertebrae in a spill here April 19.

"Turf Paradise is really where I learned so much," he said. "And it's always nice to win."

Kaenel has been riding primarily at Aqueduct this winter, where he is ranked seventh in the jockey standings through Dec. 26.

On Saturday, even-money favorite Keagan rallied late under Scott Stevens to win the $40,000 Arizona Juvenile Stakes by a neck over Mining Gold.

"We don't want to change his running style," said Stevens of Keagan's late closing kick. "But I'm sure we gave a few horseplayers an anxious moment or two. He'll only improve as the distances get longer."

Keagan ($4.20) covered he 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.30, well off the track record of 1:13.20 set by Lost in the Fog in this race last year. Hey Slick finished third in the field of nine 2-year-olds.

"We're heading to the Rattlesnake Stakes [Jan. 22]," said Eric Kruljac, Keagan's trainer. If Keagan runs well in the Rattlesnake, he will run in the Turf Paradise Derby Feb. 11, Kruljac said.

Purses have been up 11 percent this meet over last season, said Turf Paradise owner Jerry Simms.

"Thanks to our horsemen keeping our fields full, we're doing great business," he said. "If this positive trend continues through the end of the race meet [May 21], we will pay our horsemen $1.4 million more in purses than the previous season."