06/17/2014 1:14PM

Lucrative Turf Sprint Day takes the stage at Evangeline

Tom Keyser
Lemon Drop Dream jumps footprints near the finish on his way to a second in the Maryland Sprint Handicap. He will start in Saturday's five-furlong Evangeline Turf Sprint.

Opelousas, La. – Entries were drawn Tuesday for Saturday’s Evangeline Turf Sprint Day, the most ambitious program ever in the 49-year history of Evangeline Downs. The $300,000 namesake headliner will be joined by the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for 3-year-olds and up; the $100,000 Opelousas for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf; the $70,000 Lafayette for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds at seven furlongs; and the $70,000 Acadiana for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs. The 11-race card, which will feature an all-stakes pick four with a $100,000 guaranteed pool, will have a special first-race post time of 3:50 p.m. Central.

Heading the cast for the five-furlong Turf Sprint is Lemon Drop Dream. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the 4-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid accounted for the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on dirt at Oaklawn Park in April but is no stranger to the turf, having started on the surface in four of his first five career starts, those coming at Belmont Park, Saratoga, Santa Anita, and Churchill Downs. Asmussen has named Ricardo Santana Jr. to ride.

Gantry will be seeking his second stakes win on the grass in 2014, having won the Colonel Power Stakes over the Fair Grounds lawn in mid-March. Most recently, Gantry finished sixth, beaten only 3 1/2 lengths by the highly regarded Marchman, in the Grade 3 Shakertown at Keeneland. Regular rider Richard Eramia will once again handle the riding chores for trainer Ron Faucheux.

[Evangeline Turf Sprint: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

Leading trainer Karl Broberg will be represented in the Turf Sprint by Heitai and Snappy Girl. Both are stakes winners in turf sprints at the current meeting. Diego Saenz will ride Heitai while Glenn Murphy has the call on Snappy Girl.

The Evangeline Mile will feature the much-anticipated matchup between Sunbean and Grand Contender.

Owned by Brittlyn Stable and trained by Faucheux, Sunbean has won nine of his 15 starts, most coming at the expense of fellow Louisiana-breds. The 4-year-old Brahms gelding comes off a romping five-length win in the Louisiana Legends Classic last month and will attempt to follow in the steps of another Brittlyn runner, Star Guitar, who pulled off the Legends Classic-Mile Double three times. Eramia will again be in the saddle.

Grand Contender comes into the Mile riding a three-race winning streak, including the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap and the Texas Mile earlier this spring. Included in the Tom Amoss trainee’s six wins at Saturday’s distance is a victory in the Delta Mile at Delta Downs last fall. Gerard Melancon will ride.

The Opelousas brought together the largest field of the evening as a full dozen filly and mares will be shooting for the top prize. Among the leading contenders are Class Included, a two-time stakes winner for Faucheux and Brittlyn at Fair Grounds over the winter; Hot Tempo, winner of the Matron Stakes over the local turf for trainer Frank Leggio; I Dazzle, trained by Mike Stidham, who annexed the Red Camelia Stakes at Fair Grounds in March; Malibu Yankee, an Amoss charge who recently won over the Arlington Park turf; and Satin Gold, a Dewey Paul Smith trainee who is stakes-placed on the grass and who was last victorious in a high-end optional claimer at Lone Star in early May.