Fair Grounds Generic

Fair Grounds Generic

Hodges Photography / Lynn Roberts

Fair Grounds Cuts Overnight Purses 10%

Officials cite softness in the pari-mutuel industry as the reason.

Overnight purses at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots have been reduced 10% for the rest of the current race meet, track officials said Feb. 20.

The cut results from "overall softness in the pari-mutuel industry" through the first 57 days of the 2013-14 meet, officials said. The meet ends March 30.

Officials noted Fair Grounds was able to maintain its market or increase its share from slot machine and video poker operations in and around New Orleans. A percentage of purses is generated from gaming machines.

Fair Grounds, owned by Churchill Downs Inc., has slot machines at the racetrack and video poker machines at 10 of its 11 off-track betting parlors.

"We feel good that we were able to keep the overnight purses even with last year during the first 57 days, but purse amounts are largely dependent upon handle and must be adjusted as we enter the final stretch of the meet," Fair Grounds general manager of racing Howard Withers said. "This extreme weather prevented people across the country from getting to their favorite parlor or OTB, and it shows."

According to The Jockey Club Information Systems, Fair Grounds pursesovernight races and stakeshave averaged $283,207 per day during the 2013-14 meet. The figure for the same number of days during the 2012-13 meet was $291,845, according to TJCIS statistics.

About $15.57 million in purses has been paid so far at the current meet versus $16.05 million for the same period in 2012-13.