"Our daily racing operation continues to face ever-growing pressure in the competition for horses with racetracks in other states that offer larger purses boosted by slot machine revenues," Kuerzi added. "We hope to get a break in the weather in the final weeks of our meet, but the competition for horses remains a long-term concern."
Lower than expected wagering has prompted Ellis Park to reduce overnight purses by 15% for the remainder of the race meet.Weather conditions and intensified competition for horses were blamed for the downturn at the meet, which concludes Sept. 5.The purse reduction for overnight races goes into effect Aug. 10, with entries for those races taken on Aug. 6. In addition, purses for the last two races on the racetrack's 2005 stakes schedule have been reduced. The purses for the Aug. 27th Governor's Handicap and the Tri-State Handicap Sept. 5 are now set at $50,000, down from their original value of $75,000.Paul Kuerzi, Ellis Park's general manager, said field size was a significant factor in the early portion of the meet, which opened July 13. The track's races are averaging just over 8.4 horses, which is better than last year's average but more than one horse per race below what track officials had anticipated for the 2005 meet. Ellis Park moved back to its traditional five-day race weeks this year after the six-day race weeks of 2004 contributed to significant declines in runners per race. "The decision to reduce purses for the remaining weeks of the Ellis Park meet is disappointing, but it was a move that had to be made in light of business levels," said Kuerzi. "Our on-track attendance has been solid, and we appreciate the continued support of our loyal racing fans throughout the Tri-State. But weather conditions, which have ranged from torrential rain to oppressive heat, have provided unexpected challenges to our efforts to offer large and competitive fields of horses to our fans.