03/26/2003 1:00AM

Delta Downs horsemen cash in

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The record purses paid by Delta Downs in Vinton, La., fueled mainly by slot machines, made for a highly profitable meet for Steve Bourque, who defended his riding title, and co-leading trainers Doris Hebert and Keith Bourgeois.

The meet, which opened Nov. 7, closed Sunday with average daily purses of $230,000. Only two years earlier, Delta paid out a mere $40,000 a day in its mixed meet that featured Thoroughbreds.

Bourque won 116 races and $1,836,007 in purse money. The second-leading rider at the meet was C.J. Woodley, who won 107 races and whose mounts earned $1,606,717.

Hebert, who won the trainer title last year, and Bourgeois each won 55 races. Bourgeois's stable earned a meet-high $946,365, Hebert's stable $793,679.