04/25/2002 12:00AM

Manor: First Thoroughbred meet

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After almost two years of construction-related delays, Manor Downs near Austin, Texas, will open for its inaugural Thoroughbred meet Saturday. The former Quarter Horse-only track, which has expanded its racing surface to 7 1/2 furlongs to accommodate Thoroughbreds as required by the Texas Racing Act, will race weekends through May 26.

Purses for the 10-day meet are projected at $58,000 a day, while the $40,000-added Manor Downs Futurity on May 11 will highlight the stakes schedule. A total of three trials for the 4 1/2-furlong race will be held Saturday.

Last year the Manor Downs Futurity was moved to Retama Park near San Antonio after Manor Downs was forced to call off its Thoroughbred meet. An unseasonable amount of rain in the Austin area wreaked havoc with construction at the track, and also created safety hazards that led to six missed dates during the Quarter Horse meet last spring, and the cancellation of the 2001 meet for Thoroughbreds.

The accrued purse money from the lost dates was redistributed at other tracks in Texas, but this year, there was no need for such action. Manor Downs closed out its Quarter Horse meet April 14, and has already announced a purse increase for its Thoroughbred overnight races from what was printed in its first condition book.

Daily purses have been boosted from $50,000 a card, with allowance races increased from $4,500 to $7,500; maiden special weight races from $3,500 to $5,500; and bottom $4,000 claimers from $3,400 to $3,600. All overnight races at Manor Downs will prefer horses bred in Texas.

In addition to the Manor Downs Futurity, other highlights of the stakes schedule include the $30,000 Manor Downs Miracle Mile on May 19; and the $30,000 Sprint Classic over six furlongs May 26. The track will also feature two starter series worth a cumulative $30,000.

Post time at Manor Downs is 1:30 p.m. Central.