10/17/2008 12:00AM

Italian racing still halted


The developing crisis in Italian racing deepened this week with the announcement that Sunday's card at San Siro in Milan has been canceled. Lost are two Group 1 races, the 1 1/2-mile Gran Premio del Jockey Club and the one-mile Gran Criterium for juvenile colts and fillies. They are not expected to be rescheduled.

That follows last week's cancellation of the San Siro card that was to have included the Premio Vittorio di Capua, a Group 1 mile, plus a pair of Group 3 contests. The main sticking point in the matter is the refusal of the Italian government to lower betting takeout, which is 31 percent on win and place wagers.

The Comitato di Crisi, or Crisis Committee, consisting of many of Italy's leading owners and trainers, called a strike on Oct. 7, and there has been no racing in Italy since then. Originally scheduled to last 10 days, the strike has now been extended indefinitely.

The government team led by Gianni Letta, parliamentray undersecretary to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has offered nominal proposals concerning the restructuring of racing, but has not budged on the takeout issue. The next meeting between the government and the Comitato di Crisi is scheduled for Tuesday.

* Racing in Ireland received a double blow this week when the government announced it was doubling the rate of betting tax from 1 percent to 2 percent. At the same time, the government will reduce the amount of money it provides to Irish purses from about $103 million this year to approximately $94 million next year.