09/08/2002 11:00PM

Delta to offer $500,000 purse

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Delta Downs, a small track in Vinton, La., that opened a slots casino in February, hopes to lure some of the nation's top 2-year-olds to town Dec. 21 for a newly created $500,000 stakes that has yet to be named.

The one-mile race will be the richest the track has ever staged for Thoroughbreds.

The only two 2-year-old races "that are going to be worth the same or more are the Champagne and the Breeders' Cup," said Chris Warren, director of racing for Delta.

Warren said the local prep for the new stakes will be the $75,000 Jean Lafitte on Nov. 24. In the past, the Jean Lafitte was one of the nation's first stakes for 2-year-olds, as it used to be run in March.

Delta will run an 80-day meet from Nov. 7 to March 23 with a purse structure of approximately $160,000 a day. There are 36 stakes worth $2.5 million budgeted for the meet.

Delta, two hours east of Houston, is one of 12 properties owned by Boyd Gaming of Las Vegas.