12/04/2003 12:00AM



Raymond J. Beard, a longtime racing official who worked at Fair Grounds for more than a decade, died at age 61 Wednesday at his home in Kenner, La. Beard had also worked as an official at Jefferson Downs, Ak-Sar-Ben, Canterbury Downs, and Scarborough Downs and as a correspondent for Daily Racing Form. . . . Art Pedrgal Jr., the leading trainer at Tampa Bay Downs in 1987-88 and 1988-89 and a state steward there for the last five years, died Tuesday at age 60. A funeral mass is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Tampa, Fla. . . . Thistledown will add an extra day of live racing on Tuesday, Dec. 16, to make up for the cancellation of its races Nov. 29. Thistledown will have a post time of 12:20 p.m. Eastern on the final two days of its meet, Dec. 15 and 16. . . . Neil Narter has been named director of operations at Evangeline Downs, which is set to open a slots casino at its future site in Opelousas, La., on Dec. 19. Narter will oversee the slots operation, marketing, and the development of offtrack betting sites.