02/19/2004 1:00AM

Finger Lakes slots open

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Finger Lakes Racetrack opened its slot-machine casino on Wednesday, attracting 10,000 people to a newly remodeled facility and ushering in an era of slots at New York Thoroughbred tracks.

Finger Lakes, now called Finger Lakes Gaming and Racing, was the second racetrack in New York to open a slot-machine parlor. The first, Saratoga Gaming and Raceway, a harness track, opened in late January.

Finger Lakes was open from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., a schedule the track will now maintain seven days a week, year-round, with the exception of some holidays. Some revenue from the slot machines will go to purses, which are expected to rise 35 percent this year.

One other Thoroughbred racetrack in New York, Aqueduct, has been approved for slot machines. A project to renovate Aqueduct's facility, however, has been delayed by legal problems at the New York Racing Association, which owns the track. NYRA officials have said they hope to have the casino open by the fourth quarter of 2004.