08/02/2001 11:00PM

Law fills Fairmount coffers

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COLLINSVILLE, Ill. - A new state law that boosts purses will allow Fairmount Park to complete its meeting and run through Dec. 29. Without the new law, Fairmount would have closed Sept. 15 because of a depleted purse account.

Illinois Gov. George Ryan on Thursday signed into law House Bill 1069, which allocates 80 percent of the revenue generated for purses from simulcast wagers made after 6:30 p.m. at Fairmount Park to the Thoroughbred purse account.

Thoroughbred purses will also receive 80 percent, or approximately $4.3 million, of the $5.4 million held in an escrow account from night simulcasting since the beginning of 2000.

Through 1999, when Fairmount held both an annual Thoroughbred and Standardbred meet, all of the purse revenue generated from night time simulcasting went to Standardbred horsemen.

When Fairmount dropped harness racing from its schedule in 2000, it attempted to place all simulcast purse revenue into Thoroughbred purses, but the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association lodged a lawsuit seeking 100 percent of the night simulcast revenue.

Fairmount management is expected to raise purses retroactively from the beginning of the meet.

With purses averaging only $50,000 a day, Fairmount has had to deal with a severe shortage of horses, resulting in small fields and a three-day-a-week schedule.

"We want the horsemen who have regularly raced here to know that our purse structure is set to improve and that we are going to fulfill our race dates through the end of 2001," said Fairmount racing secretary Bobby Pace. "Also we are looking forward to a strong meet in 2002."