06/10/2010 11:00PM

Finger Lakes cuts purses, eliminates four stakes


Faced with a shortfall of more than $3.6 million it has not been paid by New York City OTB, Finger Lakes has slashed overnight purses by 12 percent and eliminated four stakes from its 2010 schedule.

In a release issued Friday afternoon, Chris Riegle, Finger Lakes president and general manager, said the track was left with no other option than to make drastic cuts after NYCOTB would not cooperate and make payments that are mandated by New York statutes.

"The unconscionable act of NYCOTB to refuse to pay its bankruptcy post-petition legislated payments has left a huge hole in our purse account going forward," Riegle said. "Given the current uncooperative attitude of NYCOTB, and with no apparent resolution on the horizon, we have no choice but to make drastic adjustments to the purse structure that in the end will negatively impact the industry and the tens of thousands of New York residents that depend on it for their livelihood."

According to the release, when NYCOTB filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in December 2009, Finger Lakes was due more than $2.3 million from payments that had been in arrears since June 2009. Prudent management of purse account funds and surpluses allowed Finger Lakes to maintain its purse structure last year and the early part of this season. Over the past three months, the total amount owed to Finger Lakes has grown by an additional $1.3 million.

With the cuts, average daily purse distribution at Finger Lakes will drop from $123,912 to $109,043. The four stakes eliminated are the Wadsworth Memorial Handicap on July 4, the Proud Puppy Handicap on Oct. 2, the Finger Lakes Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 16, and the Finger Lakes Juvenile on Oct. 30. All were worth $50,000.

Riegle said this is the first time in more than a decade that a purse cut has been necessary, "and will not be the only cut this season if NYCOTB is allowed to continue to fund its daily bloated operations at the expense of the racing industry."

Finger Lakes has been open since 1962. In addition to live and simulcast racing, the facility features nearly 1,200 slot machines.