08/15/2002 11:00PM

Fair Grounds makes changes


Fair Grounds has made several significant changes to its schedule and racing office staff while dropping three stakes races during its upcoming winter meet.

Ben Huffman, racing secretary at Keeneland, replaces Brent Seward as stakes coordinator. Huffman, the son of trainer Blackie Huffman, also has served as racing secretary at Ellis Park. Jason Boulet, a jockey's agent with racing office experience, will become assistant director of racing.

Field size fell off last season, and in an effort to strengthen its product Fair Grounds will race only four days a week between its Nov. 28 opening and Jan. 1. After that, the Thursday-Sunday schedule reverts to the traditional Thursday-Monday racing week.

Fair Grounds stakes schedule includes 58 stakes, but absent are the Pontalba and the Old Hickory for 2-year-olds, and the Sixty Sails for female turf horses.

The 2-year-old races had not drawn significant interest the last two years, while the Sixty Sails traditionally has held a spot on the calendar two weeks away from the Furl Sail, another race in the same division. The Furl Sail remains on the schedule.

Fair Grounds also has added one stakes, the Sarah Lane's Oates, for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies on turf.