09/12/2002 12:00AM

Indiana split even in 2003

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The Indiana Horse Racing Commission ruled on Wednesday that the state's two racetracks will split evenly a $11.2 million subsidy in 2003.

The subsidy, generated from a percentage of admission fees to riverboat casinos, will give a boost to Indianapolis Downs, a new harness track that is scheduled to open early next year. In the past, the subsidy has been doled out solely to Hoosier Park, a dual-breed track in Anderson, Ind., that is owned by a partnership headed by Churchill Downs.

The 50-50 split will apply only in 2003. In 2004, both tracks will receive 25 percent of the subsidy, and the remaining 50 percent will be allocated based on how much each track gives away in purses.

Rick Moore, the general manager of Hoosier Park, said he was "disappointed" by the decision, which he claimed was made to protect Indianapolis Downs.

"It seems like everyone embraces competition until it comes to Indianapolis Downs, and then it seems like everyone feels like they have to protect them," Moore said on Thursday.

Paul Estridge, the owner of Indianapolis Downs, said that his track would also prefer to split the subsidy based on purses, but he said that Hoosier Park has an unfair advantage in the state because the track operates an off-track betting location in Indianapolis. Regulators have not granted Indianapolis Downs any approvals to operate an OTB in the city, Indiana's largest.