Downs to be shut down for six weeks
reported by the The Daily Advertiser
Louisiana - There will be no live racing at Evangeline
Downs for nearly six weeks.
at the track will announce today plans to spend $1.5 million
to overhaul the racing surface and have set a projected reopening
date for the racetrack for June 30.
conservatively the quickest amount of time we can get the surface
up and operational, while giving the horses and trainers an
opportunity to work the track," said Evangeline
Downs Racetrack and Casino Chief Operating Officer Jonathan
the meantime, Swain said the casino will remain open.
track surface has been under a microscope since it opened in
February for a quarter horse meet, after moving to Opelousas
from its original Carencro location. Six horses were injured
in the first 10 days of that meet.
jockeys said there was a problem with the racing surface at
the new track, but track officials maintained that poor conditioning
of the horses had caused the injuries.
issue came to a head on May 12 when three horses were injured
after races, and two later had to be euthanized. Jockeys refused
to race the final four races on that night's card, and racing
has been suspended since.
issue at that time was unknown," Swain said. "They
were stating that there were inconsistencies in the speed, and
that they were concerned about some of the materials that were
on the track."
EvD officials then decided to take the dirt off the track to
locate the problem.
we found was that the base was solid, but it had variations
in the levels, which contributed to our drainage issues, which
forced the cancellation of racing on April 11," Swain said.
"We also found that there were only portions, small portions,
of that track that needed to be corrected."
track has hired Dennis Moore, a world renowned track expert
and track superintendent at Hollywood Park in California, as
a consultant who will work with EvD Track Superintendent Ron
course, we feel pressure to do this right, which is why we've
got the best possible people in place to do it right,"
said Swain. "There's never going to be a question about
my track ever again."
with the $1.5 million construction cost for the race course,
the track will lose the revenue it would have produced in the
projected 24 more racing dates it will miss.
are absolutely no winners in this," said Swain. "It
will be a blow monetarily, and a huge loss for all horse racing
said the casino at Evangeline Downs will continue to operate.
"The suspension of racing will not effect the casino in
any way," said Swain. "It will be business as usual
for that part of it."
track also will continue to offer off-track betting from tracks
around the country until live racing resumes.
Area jockeys, trainers and breeders would now be forced to consider
their options during the period of inactivity at Evangeline
Adcock, whose filly Angelic Reason broke down in a race Thursday
and had to be euthanized, said that the loss was a big blow
to him financially.
was my stable so to speak," Adcock said. "I don't
really race horses so to speak. I do have a lot of horses breeding,
and if they're not running down there it puts a big cramp in
Louisiana Downs in Shreveport and Delta Downs in Vinton are
two racetracks area horse owners are likely to turn to, but
at a cost.
an added expense of hauling horses from the Lafayette area to
Shreveport. It's not an added expense if the horse is stabled
on the racetrack, but it costs to haul to Shreveport. There's
gas, money and time and effort involved."
Downs officials say that they have put a lot of effort into
the racing business, and denied the perception that they have
focused on the casino more.
were going downhill until the slots improved the quality,"
said Evangeline Downs Director of Racing Operations David Yount.
"There's no question that the casino has helped, but there's
also no question that we put horse racing first."
is the heart and soul of our body," said Swain. "This
is a race track that just happens to have slots."
The race track is scheduled to meet at noon today, in Opelousas,
with the Louisiana State Racing Commission to go over its plans,
followed by a meeting with the Louisiana H.B.P.A. and the Jockey's
Guild at 1 p.m., and an open forum for licensed personnel at
I am disappointed that racing has been suspended, I am encouraged
Downs has made a commitment to improve the condition of
the track," said Louisiana H.B.P.A. President Sean Alfortish.
"This will insure long-term stability for the horsemen