02/07/2003 12:00AM

Delta purses skyrocket

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Purses at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., will increase 40 percent to an average of $230,000 a day beginning with the card Friday. The dramatic boost, made possible in part by an increase in handle and the revenue from slot machines, will put Delta's distribution close to, or on par with, some of the other top meets in the region.

Fair Grounds in New Orleans pays out about $270,000 a day in purses, while the Oaklawn Park meet in Hot Springs, Ark., has budgeted $240,000. Last year, Lone Star in Dallas paid out $228,000.

Tracks closest to Delta include Sam Houston Race Park, which averages $120,000 a day, and Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, which will open in April with a daily distribution of about $80,000.

The number of simulcast outlets taking the track's races has increased this meet, and since Dec. 1, Delta has averaged more than $1 million a day in handle on its races.