08/25/2004 11:00PM

Philly purses get early slots hike


Horsemen at Philadelphia Park have reached an agreement with the track to add $100,000 to daily purses by November of next year as part of an advance payment for an expected subsidy from slot machines, according to Michael Ballezzi, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

The seven-year agreement will add $10,000 to daily purses beginning Sept. 1, Ballezzi said Thursday, an amount that will make Philadelphia's Park daily purse distribution approximately $140,000. Another $10,000 will be added as of Jan. 1, with $30,000 additions in both March and July, and a $20,000 addition in November.

Pennsylvania's legislature approved a bill this year that will allow for as many as 61,000 slot machines at 14 sites in the state, including seven tracks. Philadelphia Park officials have estimated that subsidies from the slots will drive Philadelphia's purses to at least $400,000 a day beginning in 2006, when the slots are expected to be up and running.

The agreement also calls for Philadelphia Park to spend approximately $13 million on backstretch improvements over the next seven years, Ballezzi said.

The agreement is structured so that horsemen will have to pay back 50 percent of the advance after Philadelphia's slots parlor opens, Ballezzi said.