04/09/2004 12:00AM

Stakes honors Franks


Louisiana Downs has made some minor changes to its stakes schedule, but not to the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby, which will remain at 1 1/8 miles and again be held in the fall, on Sept. 25. The track will open for 102 days of racing on May 14, and the meet will continue through Oct. 31.

The new $50,000 John Franks Memorial for Louisiana-breds on turf is the first of 64 stakes during the meet. The race is designed to complement the renaming of the turf course in honor of Franks, a prominent Louisiana-based owner and breeder who died Dec. 31.

Other new stakes on the calendar include the $75,000 Harrah's Juvenile. A one-mile turf race for 2-year-olds, it will be on the Super Derby undercard along with the $75,000 DeBartolo Oaks and the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial.

Purses from opening day through the Super Derby will average between $200,000 and $210,000 a day, said Pat Pope, racing secretary at Louisiana Downs. For the remainder of the season, the purse distribution will be more than $150,000 a card. The track has been open for training since April 2.

Major scheduled races include the $100,000 Harrah's Louisiana Downs Handicap on turf Sept. 26. The Louisiana Breeders' Festival, featuring 12 stakes restricted to Louisiana-breds, will be held Oct. 23.