04/29/2003 11:00PM

Louisiana casino to open early


Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., is scheduled to open a 900-machine slots casino on May 21, at least a week earlier than Harrah's Entertainment officials expected when they completed the purchase of the track in December 2002.

The Louisiana Downs meet opens June 27.

The slots casino is the first phase of a long-term improvement project at the track. At the end of May 2004, the number of machines will increase to 1,500.

A bar, deli, and screens for simulcast racing will be part of the casino when it opens. Other improvements scheduled to be completed before the meet opens are enhancements to the barn area, paddock, and winner's circle, as well as upgrades to the turf railing. There will also be a new boulevard entry to Louisiana Downs.

Officials have yet to release the meet's stakes schedule, but the date for the highlight, the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby, is set for Sept. 20.