Racing season at Fairmount Park shortened because of economy, lawsuit

COLLINSVILLE — The struggling economy and millions in supplemental money tied up in court litigation has forced administrators at Fairmount Park to cut the last 18 race dates.

The last day of live racing will be Aug. 15.

The 2009 season initially was to have concluded with horse races at the Collinsville track on Sept. 26, but Fairmount Park General Manager Brian Zander said local horse owners requested that the track's season cut some dates so they could plan for travel to other tracks where purses are higher. The Illinois Gaming Board approved the request at its meeting July 14.

"We had to make a decision," Zander said. "The horsemen have to make plans. On Wednesday we cannot come in and say that Saturday is our last day. We had to make a decision to give them enough time to prepare for horsemen and trainers with a place to go."

The current schedule was approved in September, before the Illinois Supreme Court ruled to deny Illinois riverboat casinos' appeal to reverse a previous decision that forced Illinois' five wealthiest casinos to share 3 percent — about $79 million — of revenue with the state's five horse tracks. Fairmount Park's share is an estimated $7 million.

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