01/08/2002 12:00AM

New Jersey purse supplement cut

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New Jersey's acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco slashed an $18 million purse supplement for the horse racing industry to only $6 million with a line-item veto of a racing bill on Tuesday.

DiFrancesco's veto followed a 48-21 vote on Monday night by the New Jersey legislature to approve the $18 million supplement. Racing lobbyists said the governor, who left office at noon on Tuesday, cut the size of the supplement because of financial difficulties faced by the state. New Jersey is expected to run a $2 billion deficit this year.

Thoroughbred horsemen will receive 65 percent of the supplement, or approximately $3.9 million, a far cry from the $11.7 million the industry received in 2001.

"We're extremely disappointed," said Barbara DeMarco-Reiche, a lobbyist for the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "We're dependent on that additional money until we get an offtrack betting and account-wagering industry in place," which is not expected until late in 2002, if that soon.