08/23/2011 4:31PM

Arlington Park raising purses again


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Arlington Park is raising overnight purses for the second time in less than two weeks, tacking another $10,000 per day onto its daily distribution, the track announced on Tuesday.

The purse hike, which will take effect with Thursday’s races, comes because of better-than-expected business on Arlington Million Day, Aug. 13. Arlington’s overall handle on the day decreased slightly from 2010, but the track had budgeted for a steeper decline.

“The success of the International Festival of Racing exceeded our expectations,” said the track’s general manager, Tony Petrillo.

Arlington’s purses now stand at a daily average of $212,000, up 27 percent from what was being paid just two weeks ago. Purses were increased by 21 percent on Aug. 12 after impact fee funds collected from four Illinois casinos were released to the state racing industry after a five-year legal battle.

Arlington and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association disputed how to pay the impact fee funds, and officials of the horsemen’s group said Tuesday that this week’s purse increase, like the one on Aug. 12, was constructed by the track without input from the horsemen. That said, the 27-percent increase is greater than the 25 percent the horsemen sought for the remainder of the 2011 meet, though the two sides still may disagree over whether the impact fee funds should extend through 2014, as Arlington prefers, or 2013.