01/06/2006 12:00AM

Delta shift approved


The Louisiana Racing Commission on Friday approved a request from Delta Downs in Vinton, La., to transfer the remaining dates of its 2005-2006 meet to Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La. Delta is in the process of rebuilding 20 barns lost to Hurricane Rita on Sept. 24 and had hoped to have the facility ready to receive horses by Jan. 11.

Delta was originally scheduled to begin an 88-day season last Oct. 21 but was unable to do so after the hurricane. Evangeline Downs was granted a Thoroughbred meet to replace Delta's lost racing dates. The Evangeline meet, which began Dec. 1, was scheduled to conclude Jan. 15, but will now continue through March 25. Delta had been slated to have begun a 40-day meet on Jan 18.

"We would be substantially complete, but not 100 percent," said Rob Stillwell, a spokesman for Boyd Gaming, which owns Delta Downs.

Delta lost all but two of its barns in the storm, and is also putting in a new tote board. The track was able to reopen its casino on Nov. 3.

The commission's approval provides for the transfer of Delta's purse money to Evangeline. The next meet at Delta will be for Quarter Horses, from April 13 through July 9.

Delta mailed out condition books last week, but it was unclear whether the stakes schedule in that book would be used at Evangeline.