05/21/2008 12:00AM

Shine Young Futurity growing in popularity

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There promises to be plenty of fireworks for this year's Louisiana Legends Night on July 4 at Evangeline Downs. The million-dollar night of 11 stakes for Louisiana-breds is anchored by the two divisions of the $100,000 D.S. "Shine" Young Futurity, which drew a total of 152 nominees.

The five-furlong Shine, which includes both a filly division and a colt and gelding division, has been run every year during the 43-year history of Evangeline, either by its current moniker or as the Cajun or Southwest Futurity. The retooling of the track's stakes program, which puts an emphasis on 2-year-olds, has resulted in a resurgence of the Shine in recent seasons. This year's nomination total is twice what it was just five years ago.

"Evangeline has always been a proving ground for babies," said Tom Early, director of the Louisiana Breeders Association, "especially now with the expanded stakes schedule. With the slots-infused purse structure at record levels throughout the state, we have seen a dramatic increase in both the quality and quantity of foals produced over the last few years."

Trials for the filly division will be June 12, with the males to follow on June 13. There will be a $400 fee to enter the trials, with all fees and payments added to the base purse. Last year's editions of the two finals were worth more than $130,000 each.