OPELOUSAS — When the lights came on for the first time in her racing career, Joy of the Saints didn’t blink.
The 2-year-old, Louisiana-bred filly grabbed the lead midway through the first turn and out-galloped the pack in the $100,000 D.S. “Shine” Young Futurity on Saturday night at Evangeline Downs.
Union Builder, who broke from the gate a 28-1 underdog, followed two races later with a victory in the $100,000 futurity’s colt and gelding division.
Joy of the Saints, now 2-0 in her two-race career, turned in a time of 1 minute, 6.42 seconds and has earned $75,000 for owner Teri Poindexter of Poindexter Farms LLC.
Trainer Ronnie Ward said it was the first night race for Joy of the Saints — a full sister to Pagini, a 3-year-old who was a stakes winner last year at Evangeline.
“We brought (Joy of the Saints to the track Friday night) and showed her around the paddock, and she didn’t show any signs of being afraid,” Ward said. “We were able to run the race we wanted. The pace developed like we thought, and at the one-sixteenth pole, (jockey Filemon Rodriguez) reached back and popped her on the left, and that got her going.”
Our Bloomin Rose bolted in front on the middle of the track of the 51/2-furlong race, just in front of Joy of the Saints. But by the early stretch, Our Bloomin Rose dropped to third (eventually finishing sixth) as Miss Molly B, ridden by Billy Charles Patin, was left as the main challenger for Joy of the Saints.
In the colt and gelding race, Union Builder broke in front early and covered the 51/2 furlongs in 1:05.33. The gelding has won both of his career starts, earning $61,000 for owners Keith and Ginger Myers of Coteau Farms.
Union Builder was one of two horses entered by Coteau Farms and trained by Patrick Devereux Jr. The other was Strong Currency, a strong prerace favorite along with Salute the C, who finished fourth.
Union Builder’s jockey, Joe Patin Jr., had a race on his hands down the stretch as Smudge, with Kevin J. Smith aboard, challenged and the horses fought for the lead as the field turned and moved in front of the grandstand. Patin managed to win the race as Union Builder recorded the upset by a neck.
“When (Union Builder) broke on top, I knew we were going to be tough to beat,” Patin said.
The “Shine” Young Futurity was formerly run as both the Cajun Futurity and the Southwest Futurity and has been held consecutively at both the current and former Evangeline Downs tracks since 1966. Fields for both the fillies and the colt and geldings were full, with 12 entries in each division.
Note: The start of the filly division was delayed several minutes when Watch the Gate became unmanageable in the starting gate and was scratched afterward by the track’s racing stewards following a recommendation by track veterinarians. Courtney Hernandez, who was saddled on Watch the Gate, was attended afterward by emergency medical technicians. Track officials said Hernandez was taken to a medical facility for further evaluation.