01/23/2004 12:00AM

Stakes purses increase by more than $125,000

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Evangeline Downs, near Lafayette, La., will increase purses for the 11 stakes at its 2004 Thoroughbred meet by more than $125,000, thanks to revenue generated since the December opening of a slots casino at the track's future site in Opelousas, La. The purse schedule will be worth a total of $670,000.

One of the more notable purse increases involves the Evangeline Mile for 3-year-olds and upward on Aug. 14. The purse has been increased from $75,000 to $100,000.

"As we continue to grow and move forward in the development of the new racino as an entertainment venue, we expect to be able to continue to enlarge the purse for this race and return it to the graded stakes we believe it justly deserves," said David Yount, director of racing operations at Evangeline. The Evangeline Mile was once a Grade 3 race.

Evangeline has also increased the purses for its $35,000 stakes by amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 each. Among the increased stakes is the Evangeline Downs Sprint Championship, which will be worth $50,000 when it is renewed June 19.

Evangeline has changed the name of its Sales Stakes for 2-year-olds on July 31 to the John Franks Memorial and increased its purse from $35,000-added to $75,000-estimated. In another purse change, the D.S. "Shine" Young Futurity on July 3 has gone from $35,000-added to $100,000 guaranteed.

During the month of December, slots at Evangeline's new site operated for 13 days and grossed $3.4 million. Attendance at the casino during that time was 123,729. The Evangeline meet opens April 1.