LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen October  22, 2019

EVANGELINE DOWNS OFF AND RUNNING!

The final stop on the Louisiana Quarter Horse Racing circuit is Evangeline Downs in Opelousas. The 46-day meet kicked off on Friday, September 27 and will continue through December 17.

Three stakes were contested on opening weekend with Mag 3 Racing’s Mag 1 winning the first division of the $20,000 EVD Dash as the favorite. The son of Mr Jess Kue was bred in Louisiana by H & M Racing, and conditioned by Katie Carlos. Breeders Tate Farms and Stoney Meadow Farm, had to be thrilled when Tf Rowdy Cartel blazed to victory in the second division of the 220-yard stakes at odds of 25-1. The gelded son of Coronado Cartel is owned by Jaime Torres and trained by Pedro Lopez.

On Saturday, September 28, Carlos Acuna’s Corona Down Perry earned her first career stakes in the $30,000 Billy Montgomery Stakes. The 3-year-old filly was trained by Martin Trejo and bred by LQHBA and AQHA champion breeder, Grant Farms, LLC.

That was a very exciting way to kick off the meet and there is much more on the way!

Cooler Weather Relief for Horses and Humans

It has been a brutally hot summer so in addition to looking forward to the rich stakes schedule at Evangeline Downs, there is the relief of cooler temperatures on the way.

“I can tell the difference in my horses,” stated Kenneth Roberts, Sr., one of the top trainers in Louisiana. “It’s still warm right now, but not the like the scorching heat we had at the end of Delta Downs and at Fair Grounds. They like the change!”

2017 LQHBA champion trainer Roberts, who has 50 stalls at Evangeline Downs this meet, further explains what the looks forward to in the final meet of 2019.

“This is the time of the year that we know what kind of horses we have,” he said. “Some of my runners needed more time to mature and should more forward. You also have a better idea of which horses need a little more ground.”

Roberts looks forward to the final two Louisiana futurities of the year. He won the LQHBA Louisiana Million in 2013 with Ol Time Preacher Man and again in 2017 with You Drive I Fly.

“I am grateful for this 46-day meet, good purses and the million dollar futurity,” added Roberts.

Chaplain Dwight Brown

While racing fans see the winning connections enter the winner’s circle four nights a week at Evangeline Downs, there are hundreds of workers who rarely get recognition for their important roles preparing horses for competition.

Chaplain Dwight Brown works tirelessly to make sure that the hard-working members of the backside are taken care of throughout the racing season in Opelousas. The many programs offered include the Groom of the Week award, Monday and Tuesday church services, offered in English and Spanish, English as a second language classes and a special meal served for workers on Thanksgiving Day at Evangeline Downs as well as a Christmas dinner at Copper Crowne.

Brown, who was born into a racing family, understands the demands of working in the industry.

“You have to love horses to put in the countless hours and give up every weekend,” said Brown, who is entering his ninth year of service at Evangeline Downs.

Each of the programs are important, but Brown cites the Groom of the Week as one of his most endearing. The weekly honoree receives a $25 gift card and a keepsake plaque.

“It touches my heart when I walk the barn area and see a groom proudly post their honor on the wall,” added Brown. “I know that our programs mean a great deal to so many men and women who work in racing.”

LQHBA Louisiana Million Set for Saturday, December 7

The richest race of the meet, the LQHBA Louisiana Million (RG1), has been moved up on the calendar by one week, and will take place on Saturday, December 7. There is no question that winning the seven-figure futurity is a dream come true for Louisiana breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys. Further good news is that it was announced last month that the trial purses for both the LQHBA Million and the $300,000-est. LQHBA Breeders' Derby will be increased from $7,000 to $10,000 this year.

“The running of the LQHBA Louisiana Million is a very special racing event,” said Bruce Salard, LQHBA executive director. "Each year we have seen the tremendous pride from the winning connections as they celebrate their million-dollar futurity champion. It is a tremendous showcase for Louisiana breeding and racing. We look forward to the trials on November 15 and to crowning the winner three weeks later.”

Wishing everyone the best throughout the action-packed Evangeline Downs 2019 Quarter Horse racing season. We know it will be filled with many thrilling highlights and rewards for the dedicated supporters of Louisiana breeding and racing!

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The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen for www.lqhba.com. She served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America.