Fair Grounds Race Course announced Friday that it is increasing its purse schedule by 18% and adding five new stakes races for Louisiana breds to its Harrah's Louisiana Downs schedule.Overnight purses will feature an increase of $4,000 per race, effective with the Dec. 15 card.The closing weekend of Fair Grounds' 134th season has been named "Louisiana Lagniappe Weekend" and will feature six $75,000 stakes for state breds. They include five first-time events: the Louisiana Lagniappe Sprint and Louisiana Lagniappe Ladies on Jan. 21, and the Louisiana Lagniappe Ladies Sprint, Louisiana Lagniappe Classic and Crescent City Oaks on Jan. 22. The Crescent City Derby on Jan. 21 remains on the schedule, while the Crescent City Oaks replaces the Battler Star in the 3-year-old filly division.Three Louisiana-bred stakes next month received $25,000 purse increases to $75,000: the Red Camelia on Jan. 7 and the Dixie Poker Ace on Jan. 8. The changes will increase purses to an average of approximately $370,000 per day, the largest ever for a meet in Louisiana.The purse increase was implemented due to continued better than expected business levels at five Fair Grounds affiliated off-track betting facilities in the New Orleans area that reopened on Oct. 26. Fair Grounds Race Course and five other OTBs remain closed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Fair Grounds' abbreviated 37-day race meet is being held at its temporary host site, Harrah's Louisiana Downs, in Bossier City.