Updated on 09/17/2011 10:59AM

Illinois horsemen sue over funds

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The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association on Tuesday filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the Illinois Racing Board and all Illinois Thoroughbred and Standardbred racetracks over the recapture issue, which could substantially damage the purse structures at Chicago-area Thoroughbred racetracks.

The association's president, Joe Kasperski Jr., said Tuesday that the suit asks the court "to examine the 1999 changes in legislation, and the rules and regulations implemented afterward by the IRB" in regard to recapture.

Recapture funding was implemented in 1999 by the Illinois legislature as a means for tracks and horsemen to recoup funds lost to outside wagering facilities as simulcasting proliferated.

Because of an ongoing budgetary shortfall in Illinois, former Gov. George Ryan last summer eliminated recapture funds from his 2003 budget, and Thoroughbred tracks will have overpaid purses by roughly $6 million in 2002 if the funding is not retroactively reinstated.

Standardbred horsemen in Illinois have been on strike at Balmoral and Maywood since Jan. 1 over the issue. The 2003 Thoroughbred racing season in Illinois begins Saturday with the opening of Hawthorne, but Kasperski said his group does not intend to strike "as long as we're in court pursuing what we believe we're owed."