The 2006 race meet at Harrah's Louisiana Downs came to a close on Saturday with a 4% increase in average daily handle.A record Super Derby day, which brought total handle of $7.3 million on the day, broke the all-time record for the 33-year history of the Bossier City track. "We are very pleased with the results, including a record Super Derby Day," said Patrick Dennehy, regional president and general manager of Harrah's Louisiana Downs. Total handle on Louisiana Downs races was $192.4 million, up from $180.7 million in 2005. Average daily handle of $2,068,722 was up 4% from $1,985,467, while average handle per race was up 13%. "We were excited about the way customers across the country responded to Louisiana Downs racing," said Mark Midland, vice president of racing operations. The daily average for total on-track handle - including both live and simulcast handle on-track - was $408,330, down 3% versus $421,606 the prior year. Field size was 8.3 horses per race, a decline from the 2005 average of 8.9 horses. Last year's field size number was abnormally high due to a temporary track closure at Evangeline Downs for six weeks in May and June. Total purses were $18.5 million, nearly identical to the $18.7 million paid in 2005.
The 93-day meet was headlined by many of the same faces fans have become accustomed to over the past few seasons. Trainer Cole Norman notched yet another training title with 66 wins and more than $1 million in earnings. It was his ninth consecutive title, which ties Norman with Frank Brothers (1980-1988) for that honor. Leading jockey Lonnie Meche captured the riding title with 99 victories, two clear of Carlos Gonzalez.