10/02/2010 2:57PM

Quarter Horse season to run 46 days


OPELOUSAS, La. – Evangeline Downs will begin its 2010 Quarter Horse season on Tuesday with a nine-race program that gets under way at 12:40 p.m. Central.

The 46-day stand runs through Dec. 18 and will operate on a mostly Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule with Tuesdays added the first two and last two weeks of the season. There will be no racing on Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, or Saturday, Dec. 11.

Traditionally a night track, Evangeline will conduct racing during daylight hours this fall with the exception of a twilight card on Nov. 13 that begins at 5:40  p.m. local time.

“It fits well in the simulcasting schedule that’s out there,” Evangeline racing secretary Coleman Lloyd said of the new post time. “Plus we don’t have to pay a light bill, which is no small expense over the course of an entire season.”

Lloyd went on to say that response from horsemen has been positive thus far for the meeting, which will average $80,000 in daily purses, excluding stakes races.

“We had about 400 more stall applications than we have actual stalls,” said Lloyd. “Entries the first couple of days have gone well considering that it is a little bit of a culture shock for a lot of horsemen coming from the Fair Grounds meeting.”

Coleman was referring to the 10-day boutique-like Quarter Horse season that concluded at Fair Grounds Sept. 25. That meeting offered upwards of $200,000 a day in purses.

Top outfits who are expected to compete for the Evangeline training title include perennial powerhouse Kenny Roberts Sr., winner of the Fair Grounds training crown; Danny Eldridge, second to Roberts at Fair Grounds; 2008 Evangeline champ Janet Van Bebber, as well as Ray Robbins. Darrel Soileau, who sent out All American Futurity favorite Jls Mr Bigtime last month at Ruidoso Downs, also has a local string.

Jockeys Alfonso Lujan and John Hamilton, first and second, respectively, in the final standings at Fair Grounds, are set to renew their rivalry and will be part of a competitive colony.

Highlights of the stakes schedule include the $150,000 Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association Sales Futurity on Oct. 23; the $200,000 LQHBA Breeders Futurity Dec. 4, a restricted Grade 1; and the Evangeline Downs Futurity on closing day.