04/28/2010 12:00AM

Tortuga Straits heads top sprinters


A dozen of the region's quickest sprinters will line up Friday night at Evangeline Downs in the $50,000 Need for Speed Stakes, a five-furlong dash that will go as the eighth of 10 races.

Tortuga Straits represents the class of the Need for Speed, having bankrolled over $620,000 in his 30-race career. A

6-year-old son of Gold Tribute trained by Ralph Irwin, Tortuga Straits finished third in his only start this year, which came against optional claiming company at Oaklawn in late March. He has performed well locally, having won 3 of 5 starts here and finished second the other two times. He could have drawn better, however - jockey Colby Hernandez will have to deal with post 12.

Rail Ridge has never finished worse than second in his seven-race career, including a solid win against optional claiming foes at Delta Downs in his last start. That victory avenged a narrow loss to John Charles in the $100,000 Premier Sprint Stakes at Delta in early February. Trainer Ronald Matthieu will once again give regular rider Billy Patin the mount.

John Charles returns in the Need for Speed. Trained by Sam Breaux, he has won 10 of 23 starts and earned over $350,000. John Charles comes off a layoff; he worked the fastest half-mile at the Evangeline Training Center on April 14. Donnie Meche has the call.