03/05/2008 1:00AM

Three new stakes bring total to 25


OPELOUSAS, La. - Evangeline Downs will offer 25 stakes worth a record $2.01 million at its 85-day spring-summer meeting that begins April 9. The stakes purses represent a 12 percent increase from 2007.

Three new races appear on the schedule. The $75,000 Opelousas for 2-year-old fillies will be run Aug. 30. The $60,000 Salute for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies will run June 13, and the $60,000 Acclaim for statebred 3-year-old colts and geldings will be contested on June 14.

"Louisiana racing, especially Evangeline Downs, has long been a proving ground for 2-year-olds," said Jason Boulet, the track's racing secretary. "While we have a three-race program of six-figure events for the colts, the addition of the Opelousas now gives us a similar program for the fillies."

The Evangeline Mile, for 3-year-olds and up, annually attracts the best handicap horses in the region and is the richest race on the calendar with a purse of $200,000. Last year's running was captured by the Louisiana-bred Costa Rising, who dominated his rivals en route to earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 115.

The stakes schedule features nine other events worth $100,000 or more.

Another highlight of the Evangeline season will be Louisiana Legends Night. The 11-race, all-stakes card restricted to Louisiana-breds will be run on an expanded holiday program on July 4.