03/28/2002 1:00AM

Super Derby trip cut by eighth-mile


Louisiana Downs has shortened the distance of its Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby from 1 1/4 miles to 1 1/8 miles for its 2002 running on Sept. 21. The race is the richest of 45 stakes scheduled for the in Bossier City, La., track's Thoroughbred meet, which runs 80 days, from June 28 to Nov. 10.

Total stakes purses for the meet are $2.6 million.

"If you pull out last year's stakes schedule and compare it to this one, there is very little difference," said Pat Pope, director of racing at Louisiana Downs. "The big difference this year is, really, purses."

During the summer meet, which runs through Sept. 22, purses will average $200,000 a day, a 40 percent increase over last year. For the fall session, daily purses will average $100,000.

The Super Derby highlights the summer meet. The Super Derby will be run on a Saturday this year after having been scheduled on Sundays in recent years.

New to the summer lineup is the $40,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial, a 1 1/16 miles turf race for 3-year-olds Sept. 21; and both divisions of the Friendship Stakes, which will be run two months earlier than usual this year on Sept. 14 and 15.

In other changes, the $75,000 Sport of Kings and $75,000 Princess Futurities were not renewed, while four stakes during the summer meet were increased $10,000 each to $50,000, including the opening day Kings Court.