- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A pending lawsuit by a group of quarter horse owners, trainers and jockeys has forced the Fair Grounds Race Course to substantially reduce purses for the upcoming thoroughbred meet, including a 40 percent cut for the Louisiana Derby.

The Grade II Louisiana Derby, purse is now $600,000, down from $1 million.

In all, The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/XiXpn4 ), stakes purses will be cut by 30 percent and overnight purses by 17 percent - a total of $2.7 million - although some or all of the money could be restored if the lawsuit is resolved.

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.

Both Fair Grounds and HBPA officials have said that the purse reductions have nothing to do with the reported effort by Churchill Downs Inc., the track’s parent company, to sell the facility plus its 11 off-track betting facilities.

“Fair Grounds has been generally able to maintain annual market share in both slots and video poker, however this litigation is forcing the change,” the release stated. “Fair Grounds is hopeful that the quarter horse claims can be resolved in a timely manner that will allow the purse funds to be released during this thoroughbred meet.”

The Fair Grounds also released its 2014-16 schedule Wednesday. NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports (https://bit.ly/1DkEV73 ) the track reduced its stakes schedule from 58 to 43 races for the upcoming season.

The 143rd thoroughbred season opens Nov. 21 and runs through March 29.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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