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Minn. Horsepeople Compensated

Published: July 13, 2011 12:32 pm ET

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Two full weeks of racing programs have now been cancelled due to the current Minnesota state government shutdown, including the layoff of the Minnesota Racing Commission employees required to conduct racing, caused by a state budget impasse between the governor and the legislature.

In response to the prolonged crisis, Running Aces Harness Park and Minnesota Harness Racing Inc., the recognized organization representing horsepeople at the track, have agreed upon an approximate $80,000 compensation package to reimburse horsepeople for the lost racing opportunities and to reward their loyalty.

Running Aces has also determined July 26 is the last possible date it can resume racing and still complete the 50 days required annually by statute with quality programs on a regular schedule. The track has previously leased its backstretch to a private contractor that will transform it into a popular Halloween Scream Park for the second consecutive year the entire month of October. It also leases virtually all of its necessary racing equipment, such as starting cars, water trucks and tractors and much of that vital equipment is scheduled for movement to other tracks in other geographic regions on September 15.

Trainers will immediately receive $100 for each of the 425 horses that were scheduled to race in the past two weeks and got cancelled, amounting to a $42,500 compensation package payable from the purse account. Additionally, the owner of each horse entered to race for the first time in the first week if racing does resume will receive a $200 stipend. If racing does not resume by July 26 and the backstretch is closed, a formula has also been agreed upon to reward loyal horsemen who stay until July 23 in hopes the government shutdown ends in time for Running Aces to complete a 50-night meet.

No additional programs will be drawn until official word is received that the MRC is operational. If that occurs by July 23, a draw will be conducted the following morning for races two or three days later.

(Running Aces)

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