08/21/2009 11:00PM

Louisiana Downs purse agreement reached

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Louisiana Downs and its horsemen have reached an agreement on a longstanding purse overpayment issue that has led to an 8 percent increase in overnight purses at the track. The across-the-board boost was to go into effect with the program of Sunday, Aug. 23.

The increase puts overnight purses at $150,000 a day, said Trent McIntosh, director of racing and racing secretary for Louisiana Downs.

"We reached an agreement with the horsemen concerning an overpayment from previous years, and were able to release some funds for this meet," said McIntosh.

The overpayment issue is one that dates back to the late 1990s when purses were increased in advance of slots being put in place at the track, said Sean Alfortish, president of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. There were debates at different points in time over how much of an increase had been approved by horsemen, he said, which had led to litigation.

But earlier this month, Alfortish said he met one-on-one with Geno Iafrate, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah's Louisiana Downs, in an effort to put the issue to rest. Alfortish said the meeting yielded a new agreement on what horsemen owe the track and gives them more flexible terms in the repayment of those funds.

"Our board was in unanimous agreement to accept the terms that I have negotiated with Harrah's," said Alfortish.

Alfortish would not reveal specific overpayment amounts, citing a confidentiality agreement.

Louisiana Downs races through Oct. 4.