Purse breakdowns

March 11, 2004|By Tom Keyser

The state's standardbred and thoroughbred industries have hoped for years that slots would come to Maryland and subsidize sagging purses, the prizes paid to top-finishing horses. Purses at competing tracks in Delaware and West Virginia soared after they installed slots.

The Senate bill would designate 10 percent of slots proceeds (from track sites only) into a pool for purses. That would then be divided between the thoroughbred and standardbred segments by a formula based on horse race betting.

The bill would split purse money based on amounts wagered on Maryland races at Maryland tracks. Based on last year's betting, the distribution would be 87 percent to thoroughbred and 13 percent to standardbred. The money would be further divided between each group's purses and breeders' funds, which are incentives for breeding horses in Maryland.

Even if Rosecroft and Ocean Downs didn't get slots, they would still receive money from the purse pool generated from slots at the tracks that did. No one knows how much would be bet into the slot machines, so no one knows exactly how much would be generated for purses.

Rosecroft's share could be about $7 million a year. Coincidentally, that's about how much it awarded in purses last year. By comparison, the share for thoroughbred purses at Pimlico and Laurel could be from $50 million to $70 million a year, compared with the $35 million awarded now.

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