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Drop in wagering prompts Arlington Park to trim purses
Daily Herald Staff Report
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Published: 6/11/2010 2:17 PM

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A drop in gaming activity by out-of-town wagers for Arlington Park races has forced some cuts at the Arlington Heights race track.

Arlington Park officials and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horseman's Association have agreed to trim purses for 11 stakes races and put one stakes race on hiatus for this season.

The action means a reduction of $725,000 in purses for the balance of the 2010 summer season at Arlington Park.

While the decision leaves horsemen competing for less money than anticipated, the purse are still high enough to retain graded stakes status for all races.

The Sea o' Erin is the only stakes race that will not run this season.

Unaffected by the cuts are the six Illinois-bred stakes races that comprise the June 19 Prairie State Festival and the three Grade I races that make up the International Festival of Racing on Aug. 21 - the Arlington Million, the Beverly D. and the Secretariat Stakes.

A decrease in out-of-state handle (the money bet on Arlington Park's races across the country) forced the decision to make cuts, track officials said in a statement released Friday.

"In order to maintain support for current overnight purses, it became necessary to make these adjustments to the stakes program," said Arlington Park president Roy Arnold. "While lowering purses is never easy, we want to do our best to provide as healthy an overnight purse structure as possible for the horsemen who stable on our grounds and support our program on a daily basis. These adjustments will allow us to retain current purse levels."

ITHA president Mike Campbell said he is "hopeful" that the situation will improve as the season progresses.

"It is incumbent on the horsemen stabled at Arlington to race here in order to help field size, which will improve the handle, and hopefully make further cuts unnecessary," Campbell said.

Changes will be reviewed at the next Illinois racing Board meeting scheduled for late June.