Delta Downs Meet to Remain at Evangeline

With reconstruction work continuing at Delta Downs Racetrack & Casino in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita, the track's Thoroughbred meet will remain at Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino.

Delta Downs had hoped to be ready for live racing Jan. 18 but was unable to meet a deadline imposed by the Louisiana State Racing Commission. The Vinton racetrack sought to run 40 days of its meet through March 25. The meet began in early December at Evangeline, located about two hours away in Opelousas.

The Sept. 24, 2005 hurricane damaged portions of the grandstand, lights around the three-quarter-mile track, and 13 barns.

"A lot of work was completed in a very short time," Delta Downs general manager Jack Bernsmeier told the racing commission Jan. 6. But a meeting with contractors indicated the facility wasn't ready. "But we couldn't get 100% (completion), meaning that we may end up with some trim molding missing or a bolt in the wrong place or missing--some small items still not done.

"So in fairness to the commission and to the horsemen, our belief was that we really had to be able to assure 100%, and we couldn't do that."

Delta Downs hopes to begin its customary Quarter Horse meet in April.

Delta Downs has rehired about half of its 1,100 employees. It had to lay off 450 employees. The track's slot-machine casino closed after the hurricane but reopened in November. Gross gaming revenue for November was $9.9 million, up slightly from the same month in 2004.