08/08/2001 11:00PM

Explosive Bid now $700,000

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Fair Grounds Race Course released its 2001-2002 stakes schedule Thursday with little change in the track's traditional structure of races.

Most notably, Fair Grounds increased the purse of three stakes races, boosting the March 24 Explosive Bid, a nine-furlong turf handicap, by $100,000 to a $700,000. At $600,000 last year, the Grade 2 Explosive Bid already was one of the richest turf races run in this country.

Fair Grounds also raised purses in the Grade 3 Silverbulletday, formerly the Fair Grounds Oaks, and the ungraded Risen Star, the final prep for the Louisiana Derby. Both races are now worth $150,000.

Fair Grounds also is bringing back the Great Post Challenge bonus, a $1 million prize to be paid to the owner of a horse that wins the March 10 Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby. The track offered the bonus this year for the first time.

Besides the Derby and the Explosive Bid, other major races include the Grade 2, $500,000 New Orleans Handicap on March 3 and the series of Louisiana Champions Day stakes on Dec. 8.

Fair Grounds launches its 89-day winter meet on Nov. 22.