11/21/2001 12:00AM

Delta purse hike still in effect


Purses at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., are expected to remain at their new, higher level of about $80,000 a day despite the setback the track suffered Tuesday when its gaming license was suspended by a district court in Baton Rouge, La.

Boyd Gaming, which took over ownership of Delta in May, had hoped to open a slots casino at the track by mid-December. The ruling, however, stopped the Louisiana Gaming Control Board from granting the track final approval of its casino layout during a meeting Tuesday.

Judge Duke Welch, who in July denied a request by Louisiana Downs to reinstate its video poker machines because of an incomplete renewal application, granted a preliminary injunction that stops the effect of the Delta gaming license to Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc., which operates riverboats near Vinton.

The license was suspended because former Delta owner Shawn Scott, who still has an economic interest in the track according to the judge, did not undergo a suitability check before the license was granted. The decision has been appealed in the first circuit court.

The ruling was unexpected by many. "It was a shock," said Chris Warren, the track's director of racing. "At this point, what we did the other day to raise purses is still in effect. We're trying not to change anything." Delta opened last Saturday.

Oklahoma-breds lose some funds

The Oklahoma-bred incentive program lost some of its funding last week after the the Oklahoma Racing Commission determined, in response to a request for a declaratory ruling, that a portion of handle on exotic simulcast wagers previously dedicated to the program can instead remain with the state's tracks to be split with horsemen.

The impact on breeder, stallion, and purse supplements for statebred Thoroughbreds is expected to be about $300,000 to $400,000 a year, according to Robert Bryan, executive director of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association.

Last year, just under $2 million in incentive awards and purse supplements were paid to Thoroughbred horsemen in Oklahoma. The fund receives revenue from breakage, unclaimed tickets, and a portion of handle on exotic live wagers, and is administered by the racing commission.

Bryan said one possible way to replace the lost funds is to redirect license fee revenues, which total about $300,000 a year, from the state's general revenue fund to the Oklahoma-bred program. Such a solution would require legislative change, which means Oklahoma-bred funds could be partially depleted until after the next lawmaking session ends in May 2002.

Remington entry policy in review

Magna Entertainment officials are expected to decide in the next quarter whether to bring back the groundbreaking entry system introduced this season at their Remington Park in Oklahoma City. The system, which does not give updates on how races are filling during entries and accepts entries only by telephone or sealed envelope, has been used throughout the track's 59-day meet, which closes Saturday.

"You can't say it hasn't been successful," said Fred Hutton, Remington's director of racing, pointing to the fact that the track has averaged 9.3 starters per race this year through last Sunday, compared with 9.4 in 2000. Hutton added that about 90 percent of the races listed in the track's condition book were used this meet. "I'm satisfied that what we wrote [horsemen] were able to train for and predominantly get to run in," said Hutton.

In a recent survey, about two-thirds of Remington trainers responding indicated they would prefer at least one update during the course of entries.

Devout Sinner is Horse of Meet

Devout Sinner was named Remington's Horse of the Meet on Wednesday. A 3-year-old filly, Devout Sinner has won three straight stakes over older rivals this meet. "She's got lots of talent, and she's still learning," said owner-trainer Joan Charlton.

Devout Sinner, who most recently won last weekend's $40,000 Ada Handicap, will be given a little time off, and could make her next start in either the $50,000 Distaff Handicap at Sam Houston Race Park on Jan. 12, or in one of two stakes at Oaklawn Park in February: the $50,000 American Beauty or $50,000 Pippin.