11/02/2004 12:00AM

Ohio dates-cut plan stalls

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The Ohio State Racing Commission approved a 2005 racing schedule on Tuesday that awards live race days according to the minimums required by law, an action the commission took after horsemen in the state failed to come to an agreement on an alternate schedule.

The schedule will affect only one Thoroughbred track in the state, Beulah Park, which will run nine fewer racing days in 2005 than in 2004. River Downs and Thistledown would continue to run the same number of days as in 2004. Harness tracks, however, will have their schedules substantially reduced.

The racing commission approved an alternate schedule that would have reduced Thoroughbred dates by 10 percent at a meeting two weeks ago, but the agreement could not take effect without the approval by Nov. 2 of all seven racetracks in the state and the two organizations that represent Thoroughbred and Standardbred horsemen.

The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association declined to approve the agreement because of concerns over how simulcasting revenues would be distributed to the two horsemen's associations.

Scott Borgemenke, the chairman of the commission, called the approval of the schedule on Tuesday "very disappointing" after the meeting. Borgemenke had pushed for reduced Thoroughbred racing schedules in order to boost purses at Ohio racetracks.

"On the Thoroughbred side, we're really getting minimal benefits," Borgemenke said. "I just feel very disappointed, and sad for the industry."

Borgemenke said the dates situation will be reevaluated at the end of 2005. The commission also allowed the racetracks and horsemen's groups to continue to negotiate over the reduced dates schedule until Nov. 18, according to Sam Zonak, the commission's executive director.

"That doesn't look very likely, but the commission wanted to keep it out there as a viable option," Zonak said.