10/24/2014 6:10PM

Fair Grounds restores purses for 2014-15 meet


Fair Grounds, acceding to a directive from the Louisiana Racing Commission, has restored the originally scheduled purse structure for the upcoming 2014-15 race meet.

The New Orleans track, owned by Churchill Downs Inc., announced last month that it planned to withhold $2.7 million from the purse account and place it in escrow in order to protect itself from a lawsuit filed by a group of Louisiana Quarter Horsemen. The suit, which names Fair Grounds and the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association as defendants, contends that Fair Grounds improperly directed revenue from video poker machines to Thoroughbred rather than Quarter Horse purses.

On Tuesday, the LRC – which believes that the suit has no merit – ruled that Fair Grounds had no standing to escrow purse money for the upcoming racing season. The commission told Fair Grounds to restore the purse money, reissue condition books, and issue a press release announcing the changes, which it did Friday.

Fair Grounds evidently will not contest the LRC mandate. The cuts would have lowered overnight purses by $700,000 and chopped $2 million from the stakes schedule.

There is a hearing in civil district court regarding motions filed by parties in the suit scheduled for Nov. 21 in New Orleans.