02/01/2006 1:00AM

Sweetheart nice spot for 'Carolyn'


Valentine's Day celebrations begin a little early this year at Evangeline Downs with the inaugural running of the $50,000 Sweetheart Stakes on Friday night. An evenly matched field of nine fillies and mares was entered for the Sweetheart, a one-mile event that will be run as the ninth of 11 races.

Carolyn Frances could be a slight favorite in the Sweetheart after scoring two straight wins over the local oval. A 6-year-old Personal Flag mare, Carolyn Frances followed up a popular score in a two-other-than allowance race Dec. 11 with a front-running score in an optional claimer Jan. 12. Both of those victories came at one mile, and the lack of other early speed threats Friday should play in her favor. Regular rider Brian Hernandez will once again be in the saddle for trainer Dale Angelle.

Several of Carolyn Frances's rivals have solid recent turf form, including Equestrian Girls. The winner of the Red Camelia Stakes on turf at the recently completed Fair Grounds meeting at Louisiana Downs, Equestrian Girls also accounted for the Elge Raspberry Stakes last summer. She is no stranger to the main track, however, having won three of her nine tries over the surface, including the Louisiana Lassie late in her 2-year-old season. Jose Riquelme takes the return call.