08/18/2004 11:00PM

La. Derby moved up one week


Fair Grounds has released its stakes schedule for 2004-05 with just a few minor changes from the status quo.

The most notable change comes with the Louisiana Derby, which will be run March 6, 2005, its earliest running since 1991. The Louisiana Derby now will be nearly nine weeks before the May 7 Kentucky Derby, whereas the span in recent years typically had been eight weeks.

In all, 56 stakes, nine of them graded, will be run during an 82-day meet that runs Nov. 25 through March 27, 2005. Highlights besides the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby include the $1 million Louisiana Champions Day on Dec. 11, and four other Grade 2 races: the Silverbulletday, New Orleans Handicap, Fair Grounds Oaks, and Mervin Muniz Handicap.

Three new or revived stakes have been added: the Mineshaft (formerly the Risen Star), Letellier Memorial (the Thelma), and Duncan F. Kenner Breeders' Cup (the Pelleteri BC).

Huffman resigns

Ben Huffman has resigned as racing secretary at Fair Grounds for personal reasons and will be replaced by Jason Boulet.

Huffman, 35, said he will continue to work at Keeneland, where he has been racing secretary since 2002.

"I've had to travel every summer and winter for the last 10 years," said Huffman, who lives with his wife and two small children in Crestwood, Ky., near Louisville. "My family and I are looking for more stability, that's all."

Boulet, 35, grew up in Lafayette, La., in a family that has been in racing for some 50 years. A racing official since 1994, he most recently served as assistant director of racing and stakes coordinator at Fair Grounds.