07/16/2009 12:00AM

Wide-open Oak Hall Stakes at Evangeline


The $50,000 Oak Hall Stakes at Evangeline Downs presents quite a few handicapping challenges, not the least of which is trying to locate a favorite. A field of 10 will go seven furlongs in the evening's headliner and while almost all merit respect, there are an equal number of questions.

The betting public could gravitate toward Red Rock Creek if for no other reason than name recognition. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the 8-year-old gelding will be ridden by Shane Sellers, who recently launched a comeback here.

Red Rock Creek comes into the race off a half-length victory over the Lone Star turf. He has won 22 races in his 64-race career but has never tried seven furlongs on the main track. He also has not competed in a one-turn race since the spring of 2006.

Valid Stripes, a 3-year-old, has not enjoyed the most consistent of campaigns but he has had his moments. The Amos Laborde charge won both the Jim's Orbit Stakes and Texas Stallion Stakes in his home state this year but finished last in the Sunland Park Derby and most recently was last in the Barksdale Stakes at Louisiana Downs. The Barksdale was Valid Stripes' first race on turf. Kirk LeBlanc will handle the riding chores on Saturday.

Ide Like a Double will be shortening up to seven furlongs after making his last three starts at a mile or longer. The 4-year-old Ide colt who is trained by Bryan Gilbert was a three-time stakes winner here last year, including the meeting's premier race, the $200,000 Evangeline Mile. Regular rider Kerwin Clark has the call.