11/12/2001 12:00AM

Louisiana Downs handle slides

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Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., reported declines in average daily handle and attendance during its 89-day Thoroughbred meet, which ended Sunday.

Handle this meet averaged $2,109,657, down 11 percent from last year's average of $2,375,220. Daily attendance was 3,355, down 17 percent from last year's 4,087.

Purses averaged approximately $133,000 a card for the summer meet and $85,000 for the fall meet, which started following the Grade 1 Super Derby on Sept. 23.

Ray Tromba, general manager of Louisiana Downs, said the declines were a reflection of the sluggish economy.

Louisiana Downs plans to begin operating slot machines next year. Tromba said the track plans to break ground on construction of a first-floor casino within the next four weeks, and that revenue from slots is expected to enhance purses for next year's meet, which runs from June 29 to Nov. 17.

"We are in the final process of securing all the financing [for the casino]," said Tromba.

Cole Norman won his fourth consecutive Louisiana Downs training title with a record 108 wins, breaking the mark of 99 set by Frank Brothers in 1987. Kirk LeBlanc was the leading rider with 123 wins, while Ken Murphy claimed the owner's title with 19.