|Total gaming space||48,000 sq ft (4,500 m2)|
Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino is a racetrack in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, just east of Opelousas. It is owned and operated by Boyd Gaming. With a one mile oval track, the facility provides close to 1,000 horse stalls for Thoroughbred flat racing and American Quarter Horse racing. The original track opened on April 28, 1966 at Carencro, Louisiana and remained there until 2005 when it moved to Opelousas, Louisiana.
On April 28, 1966, Evangeline Downs opened for business in its original location along U.S. Highway 167 (also known as the Evangeline Thruway, and today as Interstate Highway 49) at Carencro, Louisiana, just north of the city limits of Lafayette, Louisiana.
In 1985, they sold it to Norman Denny and Larry Willis for $16.5 million. Denny and Willis soon ran into financial problems. After a missed payment of purse money, the Louisiana Racing Commission threatened to shut down the track. Evangeline Downs was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and closed indefinitely in October 1986. Unable to negotiate a reorganization, Denny and Willis shifted to Chapter 7 liquidation, asking a court to sell the track.
Evangeline Downs added video poker machines in 1992. In a 1996 election, Lafayette Parish voters enacted a parish-wide ban on video poker. As a result, the track made plans to move to St. Landry Parish, whose voters had rejected a similar ban.
In February 2002, Peninsula Gaming bought a fifty percent interest in the track from B. I. Moody for $15 million. They bought the remaining half several months later from William Trotter for another $15 million, plus 0.5% of slot revenues for the first ten years. Peninsula carried out the move to Opelousas, opening a casino at the new site in late 2003, with races following in 2005. Peninsula was acquired by Boyd Gaming in November 2012.
A number of notable jockeys began their professional careers at this track, including Robby Albarado, Ronald Ardoin, Calvin Borel, Curt Bourque, Eddie Delahoussaye, Kent Desormeaux, Mark Guidry, Randy Romero, Shane Sellers and Ray Sibille.
- "Principal Evangeline buyers include League City man". Houston Chronicle. AP. November 8, 1985. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Lafayette track closed". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA: via NewsBank. October 11, 1986. Retrieved 2012-05-17. (subscription required)
- Schultz, Bruce (January 22, 1987). "Savings and loan buys Evangeline Downs". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA: via NewsBank. Retrieved 2012-05-17. (subscription required)
- Guidry, Al (April 4, 1987). "Evangeline Downs opens 91-day season tonight". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA: via NewsBank. Retrieved 2012-05-17. (subscription required)
- "Racetrack plans move: Video poker defeat sparks Evangeline Downs proposal". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA: via NewsBank. January 16, 1997. (subscription required)
- "Peninsula Gaming eyeing full ownership of Evangeline Downs". The Blood-Horse. August 2, 2002. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- San Miguel, Hector (September 6, 2002). "With sale, Evangeline Downs poised for big move". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- San Miguel, Hector (December 20, 2003). "Evangeline Downs gets early Christmas present". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- LaMarra, Tom (April 7, 2005). "New Evangeline Downs breaks from gate". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 2012-05-17.
- "Boyd completes $1.45 billion acquisition of Peninsula Gaming". Vegas Inc. November 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino
- May 30, 2004 New York Times article on Evangeline Downs titled Where the Racing Is Down to Earth