09/11/2002 12:00AM

Slots fuel record stakes purses at Delta


In just six months of operation, the slots casino at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., has helped the small track overhaul its racing program. The 80-night Thoroughbred meet, which runs from Nov. 7 to March 23, is proof of that as Delta will offer a record $2.5 million in stakes led by the $500,000 Delta Jackpot for 2-year-olds on Dec. 21.

Purse distribution will also be an all-time high of $160,000 a day.

The Delta Jackpot highlights a 36-race stakes calendar. The one-mile race is one of the nation's richest for 2-year-olds, and is the biggest purse ever offered for Thoroughbreds at Delta.

Other stakes of note at the meet include the $100,000 Delta Princess, a one-mile race for 2-year-old fillies on Dec. 20; the $150,000 Gold Cup for older statebreds at a mile March 2; the $100,000 Gulf Coast Classic for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles March 23; and the $75,000 Goddess for fillies and mares at a mile March 22.

Also this meet, Delta will introduce Louisiana Premier Day, a series of five divisional stakes for Louisiana-breds worth a cumulative $325,000. The highlight of the Nov. 16 program will be the $100,000 Premier Day Championship.

Delta's slots operation has generated more than $64 million in revenues since it opened Feb. 13.