08/03/2014 8:31AM

Nieves scores on five mounts Saturday

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OPELOUSAS, La. – When the cats are away, Nieves will play.

With several of Evangeline’s top riders upstate at Louisiana Downs for Louisiana Cup Day, Emanuel Nieves had a big night Saturday, booting home five winners from eight mounts on the nine-race program.

“It’s my biggest day ever riding,” Nieves said, minutes after a furious stretch duel that saw him finish in a dead heat for the win with the favored Fantastical ($2.20) in the night’s seventh race. “I actually thought I won it outright. That horse wants to win and knows how to win.”

Nieves’ other wins on the evening were Litle Miss Et ($3.20) in the evening’s first race; Tsavo (4.80) in the second; Rahy Dreamer ($22.00) in the fourth; and Gimme Yo Number (5.00) in the sixth. His scheduled mount in the eighth, Ten to Midnight, was scratched.

A native of Puerto Rico, Nieves, 21, served his apprenticeship at Evangeline in 2012. Nicknamed “Sensation” by his fellow riders, he currently is ranked sixth in the standings with 39 trips to the winner’s circle.