Evangeline Downs Picks

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About Evangeline Downs

Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino is located in St. Landry Parish, La. It is positioned close to Opelousas. It was the first “Racino” in the country to be built from the ground upwards, with the whole complex sitting on 750 acres of land. 

With nearly 1,000 stalls located at the track,Evangeline Downs is synonymous with larger fields, and, as a result, it regularly offers competitive contests. It is currently owned by Boyd Gaming, which is an American hospitality and gaming company currently based in Nevada.

The track was originally built in Carencro before switching to its current location. The two venues are just a 20-minute drive apart.


It was the first pari-mutuel racetrack in Louisiana not to be located in New Orleans.

The Evangeline Downs main track consists of conventional dirt and measures one mile in total. The oval track is joined by a turf course that is positioned on the inside and measures seven furlongs. The latter also has a 1 1/8-mile chute, which is regularly used for racing on the grass.


The track stages both Thoroughbred and QuarterHorse racing, with both disciplines proving popular at Evangeline Downs.


Simulcast racing is available at the track and continues throughout the offseason. Live race-days typically take place betweenApril and December, with the action being staged on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons. Thoroughbred racing runs throughout the spring/summer (April-August), with the Quarter Horse action taking over in late September.

Evangeline Downs Racetrack History

Evangeline Downs opened in 1966, with the first live race-day taking place on April 28. Blue Vee was the first-ever winner at the track, with a 19-year-old local jockey on board.


It was originally opened in Carencro, which is located just north of the city limits of Lafayette. The original position was on US Highway 167, which is also known as Evangeline Thruway.


The track had to wait 11 years to be granted a stakes race, with the Lafayette Futurity taking place for the time in 1977. USHall of Fame inductee John Henry was the winner of this inaugural contest. The first running of this race was held over the six furlongs, although it has since been extended to seven.


In 1982, the track changed hands for the first time, with Rodney Verret, Ted Haik, Sam Rankin and Joe Jones purchasingEvangeline Downs for $12.4 million. This didn’t last long, with the quartet selling the venue three years later to Norman Denny and Larry Willis. However, they did make a profit, with the track fetching $16.5 million.


It was a tumultuous time for Evangeline Downs, with the pair failing to make payments and the track being threatened with closure. They were forced to file for bankruptcy, and the track was closed indefinitely at the beginning of 1986.


A company called The Louisiana SavingsAssociation bought the track at an auction for $333,335, and they were granted the license to continue racing at the beginning of the 1987 season.


Video poker machines were first added in 1992, although the Lafayette Parish voters opted to ban these in 1996. As a result,Evangeline Downs had to seriously reconsider its position. Voters had approved to use of these machines just a few miles up the road, so the track set its sights on a handy little spot in St. Landry’s Parish.


The all-new Evangeline Downs finally began racing again in 2005, two years after the casino has been officially opened for business. Attakappa, ridden by Brian Hernandez, was the first winner at the new track.


The original venue still exists as a training facility for horses running at the new course.

In 2012, Boyd Gaming purchased Peninsula Gaming, the company that owned Evangeline Downs.

Evangeline Downs Configuration and Track Bias

Over the six/six-and-a-half furlong sprint distance on the main track, horses running wire-to-wire produced a decent return. Thirty-seven percent of the winners at the minimum trip led from start to finish at Evangeline Downs.


However, no thoroughbreds managed this on the turf course. The grass at the track tends to favor closers, and, although there is no official explanation, it is fairly evident that the make-up of the turf doesn’t favor front-running types.

Winning Positions

In sprint races on the main track, there was a fairly even split across the post positions. Stalls one and three both produced over 15 percent of the winners, with stalls five, six, seven and eight all yielding a healthy 13-14 percent of winners. Only 68 horses were drawn in the outside position of stall 10 in 2019, with just eight of them entering the winner’s enclosure (11.8 percent).


Over longer trips, there was a slight bias towards the inside stall. Rail runners accounted for 20.8 percent of winners in route races. On the opposite side of the stalls, position nine was also very productive, with 24.2 percent of winners starting here (albeit from a smaller sample). Stall seven was the least successful starting position in races of one mile or greater. This gate produced less than nine percent of the winners during the 2019 thoroughbred season.


In turf sprint events, there was an obvious bias towards the outside stalls, with posts six and seven returning 17.9 and18.8 percent of the winners on the grass, respectively. None of the seven runners positioned in stall 10 entered the winner’s enclosure, while only one of the 24 runners who began the race in stall nine were successful. Stalls one and two each produced 11.6 percent of the overall winners on the turf.

Evangeline Downs Racing Season

Evangeline Downs holds racing from April through December. Thoroughbred racing takes place until late August beforeQuarter Horse action begins in September. There is a three-week gap in-between.Many of the horses who race at Evangeline Downs in the summer move to Delta Downs during the winter months.


There are a number of key races that take place at the track each year. Twenty stakes races were scheduled for the 2019 season with a total prize purse of $1,375.000.


Key Races:

     Evangeline Downs Distaff

     Evangeline Downs Classic

     Evangeline Mile ($1,000,000)

     Louisiana Legends Cheval

     Louisiana Legends Sprint

     Louisiana Legends Starter

     Louisiana Legends Madamoiselle

     Louisiana Legends Turf

     The Spotted Horse

     Opelousas Stakes

     John Henry Stakes

     Evangeline Downs Prince

     Evangeline Downs Princess

Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino Address

2235 Creswell Lane Extension

Opelousas, LA 70570

Evangeline Downs Best Jockeys and Trainers

There are many experienced horsemen who spend their spring and summer in Louisiana, and these trainers regularly send winners to Evangeline Downs.

There are a number of experienced riders who regularly take to the track at Evangeline Downs. Many of them regularly fire inwinners, and we look at the key names involved on a weekly basis.

Top Jockeys
Jockey Races Win Rate Place Rate Show Rate
Saenz Diego 351 27.64% 48.43% 62.11%
Rodriguez Everardo 171 25.73% 46.20% 60.82%
Alvarez David A 190 23.68% 26.32% 36.32%
Hernandez Jr Ricardo 124 22.58% 22.58% 22.58%
Fusilier Casey 256 20.31% 30.86% 33.59%
Castaneda Noe 110 20.00% 27.27% 35.45%
Cotto Jr Pedro L 456 18.20% 28.95% 51.10%
Stokes Joe 446 16.37% 33.63% 51.12%
Thornton Timothy 508 16.34% 29.33% 45.08%
Broussard Ashley 253 15.02% 30.83% 43.08%
Top Trainers
Trainer Races Win Rate Place Rate Show Rate
Valdez Jr Rosendo 38 81.58% 100.00% 100.00%
Alonzo Howard 52 61.54% 61.54% 75.00%
Sanchez III Jose Luis 48 47.92% 47.92% 64.58%
Courville Ricky 40 42.50% 42.50% 42.50%
Bourgeois Keith G 60 41.67% 61.67% 81.67%
Pomier Chasey Deville 81 38.27% 48.15% 58.02%
Ramirez Eduardo 118 34.75% 61.02% 67.80%
Milburn Katina 38 34.21% 34.21% 50.00%
Celestino Eliseo 33 30.30% 51.52% 72.73%
Ortiz Olegario 52 28.85% 28.85% 28.85%