Illinois’ horse-racing industry is stepping in to pay purses owed by the state. Horse owners who won races at the state fairs in Springfield and Du Quoin are getting checks in the mail now.
It takes only about two minutes to win a harness race at the fairs. It takes horse owners much longer to get paid.
In years past, that time frame stretched several months.
Illinois’ beleaguered finances mean the state’s doesn’t have enough money in the bank, so it’s late paying its bills.
Director of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, Tony Somone, says rather than wait until December or beyond, his group is going to pony up the $900,000.
“When we race our traditional, if you must, races at Maywood and Balmoral …once you win money, that money is available to you usually the next day,” he said. “Waiting for your money, your purse winnings, for three, four, five, six months is not typical.”
Somone says it’s hard on horsemen to wait that long for a purse – they need the money to feed their horses.
He says the racing industry’s already struggling in Illinois. He says breeders and jockeys have left for greener pastures … as purses are higher in states that allow slot machines at horse race tracks.
The industry is trying to make it legal in Illinois too.