11/11/2002 12:00AM

Louisiana Downs numbers rise


Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., increased purses this meet to build momentum for next year, when slot machines will be installed, and the move paid off. The track reported gains in attendance and handle during its 80-day meet, which closed Sunday.

Louisiana Downs handled an average of $2,300,807 a day on its races this season, a 9 percent increase over the same meet a year ago. Daily attendance rose 6 percent to 3,542, while purses averaged $187,639 a day during the summer meet, which ran through Sept. 22, up nearly 32 percent from summer 2001.

For the fall season, daily purses, originally budgeted at $100,000 were $125,002 daily.

Cole Norman won his fifth consecutive training title at the track with a record 125 wins from 400 starts. Gerard Melancon picked up leading jockey honors with

116 wins, while the leading owner was Ken Murphy with 27 victories from 73 starts.

Slot machines are scheduled to be installed at Louisiana Downs next summer. The project will be headed by Harrah's Entertainment, which signed an agreement in August to purchase controlling interest in the track for $73 million, a deal expected to close by the end of the year.