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OPELOUSAS, LA - A field of eight top turf sprinters was entered Tuesday in the second running of the $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint. The five furlong Turf Sprint will be run on Saturday, May 30 at Evangeline Downs with a special early post time for the 12-race program of 3:05 p.m.
Australian standout Power Alert, the winner of the Grade 3 five furlong Twin Spires Turf Sprint in stakes-record time at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, has been made the 2-1 morning line favorite. The Brian Lynch-trained gelding, owned by James Covello and A.J. Suited Racing Stable, LLC, is scheduled to have his regular rider Julien Leparoux in the saddle, breaking from post position one. Since arriving from Australia last year, the five-year-old son of Argentine sire Alert, has won three of four starts in the United States, including an allowance win and the Silks Run Stakes at Gulfstream Park. In the Twin Spires, Power Alert zipped the five furlongs in 55.17 seconds, defeating stakes winner Undrafted by three-quarters of a length.
Power Alert will try to knock off the defending champion of the Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint, the Louisiana-bred Heitai, the 3-1 second choice. A dominant sprinter in 2014, Heitai won six of nine starts, which included a commanding 3 ¾ length victory in last year’s inaugural Turf Sprint. Tom Amoss replaced Karl Broberg as Heitai’s trainer for owner Rowell Enterprises Inc. this year. In 2015, Heitai has won three of his five starts, including the Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on January 24 and followed that with victories in the Louisiana-bred Premier Night Sprint Stakes at five furlongs on the dirt on February 7 at Delta Downs and the Costa Rising Stakes at five furlongs on the turf on March 28 at Fair Grounds. The five-year-old son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus took the lead early in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint before fading to eighth place in his last start.
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Also to be respected is the 4-1 third choice, Great Minds, who ran an excellent second by a head in a 5 ½ furlong Keeneland turf sprint allowance on April 17. Trained by Al Stall Jr., Great Minds will be ridden by Evangeline Downs’ leading jockey, Colby Hernandez. Gantry, a winner of 11 career races, has been installed as the 6-1 fourth choice for trainer Ron Faucheux.
The $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint is just one of five outstanding stakes races with purses totaling $640,000 on the Saturday program. The Turf Sprint will be the anchor leg of the $100,000 All-Stakes Pick 4 on Saturday at Evangeline Downs. The Pick 4 will cover races 5-8 on the program with post time for the first leg, the $100,000 Opelousas Stakes, scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Central Time.
Here is the field in program order for the $300,000 Evangeline Downs Turf Sprint, the eighth race on the 12-race card with a scheduled post time of 6:52 p.m. Central Time:
|1||Power Alert (AUS)||J. Leparoux||B. Lynch|
|2||Great Minds||C. Hernandez||A. Stall, Jr.|
|3||Ty's Bandit||G. Melancon||S. Gelner|
|4||Gantry||R. Eramia||R. Faucheux|
|5||Heitai||D. Saenz||T. Amoss|
|6||Quick Dagger||J. Patin, Jr.||K. Broberg|
|7||Reflector||R. Morales||P. Devereux, Jr.|
|8||Snappy Girl||C. McMahon||K. Broberg|
Of the four remaining stakes races on the Saturday program, the $100,000 Evangeline Mile includes the most noteworthy entrant, California invader Mystery Train, who has run against the likes of Shared Belief and Finnegans Wake in the last year. Mystery Train, conditioned by trainer Darrell Vienna, is the 2-1 favorite in the field of eight and will be ridden by Colby Hernandez.
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