OPELOUSAS, La. (Evangeline Downs) – In the annals of horse racing, one of the most exciting races ever was the first Arlington Million in 1981. The photo finish won by John Henry over The Bart lives in racing legend. The raced named after the legendary John Henry on Saturday night at Evangeline Downs, the $50,000 John Henry Stakes, also featured a thrilling photo finish that involved four horses on the wire with McFeely getting the victory in a final time of 1:44.33 for the 1-1/16 miles over the firm turf course.
Spiritual Warfare, a 32-1 longshot, took over shortly after the start and held the advantage through a quarter-mile of 23.94 seconds. However, that lead was short-lived as another big longshot, A Song for Arch, rushed up on the outside to lead the way past the half-mile mark in 49.47. As the field moved onto the far turn, the lead was hotly contested between Nate’s Attack, McFeely and Harlon Selection with the early longshot leaders fading back.
Entering the stretch, Harlon Selection held a short lead over McFeely with Late Nite Mischief charging on the outside and the 3-2 betting favorite, In the Navy, trying to move up along the rail. Those four all came to the finish together with McFeely holding on for a victory over Harlon Selection by a head with Late Nite Mischief another head back in third.
McFeely won at odds of 5-1 and paid $13.20 to win, $6.20 to place and $3.40 to show. Harlan Selection paid $6.20 to place and $3.80 to show, while Late Nite Mischief returned $2.80 to show.
McFeely was bred in Kentucky by Hare Forest Farm, Ltd. and is owned by Oakwood Stables, Inc. The victory was the first career stakes triumph for trainer John Ney and the winning rider was Kerwin Clark. The 4-year-old gelding is by Scat Daddy, and is out of the Strong Hope mare, Molly Malone. He is now 4-for-12 in his career and the $30,000 first-place purse increases his lifetime earnings to $96,260.
Live racing at Evangeline Downs will resume on Wednesday night with a nine-race program. Post time on Wednesday will be 5:50 pm Central Time.
For more information on the Thoroughbred season at Evangeline Downs, visit the track’s website at www.evdracing.com. Evangeline Downs’ Twitter handle is @EVDRacing and the racetrack is also accessible on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EvangelineDownsRacing.