06/26/2002 11:00PM

Lower purse rise for Arlington


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Arlington Park and horsemen agreed this week that purses during the second portion of the Arlington meet, the Summer Festival of Racing, would be raised by only $20,000 a day, to $260,000, instead of by $40,000 a day.

Also, Arlington will not raise overnight purses during the three racing days preceding the Breeders' Cup, as had been planned.

The moves come because the Illinois state legislature decided last month not to finance a bill that gave purse money to all the state's racetracks. The appropriation, known as "recapture," was introduced in 1995 as a way to compensate racetracks for money lost when full-card simulcasting began in Illinois. This was the first year that the legislature did not approve recapture.

Because of the legislature's decision, Arlington will lose $3.7 million in purse money this year, more than 10 percent of its total purse structure.

The two changes will save $1 million, according to Steve Sexton, Arlington's CEO, but there is still another $2.7 million shortfall to be addressed. Sexton said discussions between the track and horsemen are ongoing, with another meeting set for next week.