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Disagreement In Illinois

Published: December 17, 2010 10:30 am ET

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Two days of negotiations between harness horsemen and Balmoral and Maywood Parks in Illinois failed to produce a contract for 2011.

The executive director of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, Tony Somone, says the tracks want to split recapture money 50-50 rather than the 70-30 split for horsemen that has been in effect. He says this would be $900,000 more than at present, with every 10 per cent in recapture money worth $450,000. A meeting of the horsemen and track management is scheduled for Tuesday, December 21 with the Illinois Racing Board to resolve the issue.

Somone acknowledged the racing board could force the horsemen to share recapture monies 50-50, and said that if an acceptable agreement is not reached next Tuesday, and if the horsemen have to share recapture monies 50-50, “If that’s the case,” he said, “and if we have to pay 50 per cent in recapture, then the horsemen are going to have to take a few weeks off to build up our purse account. Without that, we’re looking at another substantial purse account, and the horsemen can’t afford to do that.”

If the Illinois legislature were to pass a slots-at-tracks bill when it returns after the holidays, it would solve the problem, “recapture would be history,” the horsemen’s publicist Kim Rinker said, and Illinois could return to the position of national prominence and leadership that it once held as a major harness racing power.

(Harness Tracks of America)

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