Oh My! Evangeline Downs to host exotic animal races this weekend

Races will feature zebras and camels
Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 20, 2023

OPELOUSAS — Casino patrons aren't the only ones with a chance to hit the jackpot as Evangeline Downs struck gold bringing back one of their most popular events.

"Once upon a time at Evangeline Downs, they used to have ostrich and camel races", says director of operations, Anthony Breaux. So the opportunity came up of what if?"

Camels, zebras and horses... oh my!

Evangeline Downs is set to host their exotic animal races this weekend. The event will feature 4 camels and 4 zebras including my new buddy, Kid.

"We start them when their babies, with their mother, raise them all there in Kansas City so they're used to people all the time", says owner Joe Hedrick. "We just gradually staircase them and when the zebras and the camels start to get about three years old, that's when we put the saddles on them and about 3 and a half, we start to put some lightweight people on them."

Races at the track always bring out a large crowd and as Breaux tells me, the casino-hotel and track suite are fully booked for the weekend. They're expecting a crowd of over 2,000 fans.

"Horse racing is all over this place. So, when we're able to do something for this parish, that we're able to bring in a crowd that'll come for our camels and zebras because we're expecting huge crowds, it's big for the parish."

For Hedrick, who's been doing this for 20-plus years, he says his crew is ready to put on a show.

"I have some jockeys that have ridden here before and there will be some that have never ridden the animals before. I think their biggest surprise is we start in the starting gate, like the horses, and when the starting gates open, they break, they're gone, they're fast. It surprises the jockeys usually because they're not expecting the speed of those animals."

The event is free and first post time is 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22nd.

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