- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Louisiana Racing Commission has ordered Churchill Downs Inc. to put $2.7 million back into the purse structure for the Fair Grounds’ upcoming thoroughbred meet.

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports (http://bit.ly/1tJ92De ) Churchill Downs said it withheld the money from the purses as a result of pending litigation concerning payouts to the Fair Grounds’ quarter horse meet.

The lawsuit challenges the distribution of video poker proceeds dating back to 2008, a portion of which was to go toward quarter horse purses. The Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association also is a defendant in the case.

The Fair Grounds last month announced its new purse structure and stakes schedule, removing several stakes entirely and slashing the purses of its biggest races. The Grade II Louisiana Derby was changed from a $1 million race to a $600,000 race.

The commission, which met Tuesday specifically to address the issue, said Churchill Downs did not have the authority to remove the purse money, and ordered it to be put back as soon as possible.

Churchill Downs had initially placed the money in escrow and said it planned to distribute the funds upon conclusion of the lawsuit. However, that timetable was unknown.

The 143rd thoroughbred meet begins Nov. 21 ad runs through March 29.

The updated stakes schedule has not yet been changed to reflect the $2.7 million, however the Racing Commission ordered an updated condition book and schedule be sent out as soon as possible.

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

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