04/14/2009 11:00PM

New turf course passes first test

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Based on early reviews, turf racing in Cajun Country is a hit.

Named the David Yount Turf after the late director of racing, the lush course at Evangeline Downs was christened on opening night last Wednesday when a full field of Louisiana-bred maidens, led by the odds-on favorite Royal and Flashy, raced 1 1/16 miles.

Royal and Flashy ($3) tracked honest fractions of 24.31 seconds, 49.26, and 1:13.33 before kicking home by more than six lengths in a time of 1:44.04 over the firm going.

The course has an infield chute that can handle races 1 1/8 miles in length. It is 80 feet wide and is planted with Tiff 419 Bermuda grass over 10 inches of specially blended sand.

"Everything lined up just right for us on the turf course," said director of racing operations Steve Darbonne. "We had the right contractor and team who built it."

Le Talley Ho of St. Martinville, La., handled the construction of the new course. The same firm did the reconstruction of the main track in 2005.

"Le Talley Ho was already experienced with our racetrack, the base, and existing structure," Darbonne said. "The base for the turf track and dirt track are almost identical. When you put them with Matt Yount, our track expert, it helped put everything in our favor."

* The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders' Sales 2009 spring open mixed sale is slated for 10 a.m. Sunday at Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette, La. The sale will offer a mix of yearlings, 2-year-olds, and potential breeding stock.