The Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported a legislative auditor has found Running Aces Harness Park underpaid purses from 2008 through 2012 by $436,865. The report indicated the track contributed 8.4 percent of the takeout to the purse pool when state law requires the track to pay the money from the total handle.
The state's Thoroughbred track Canterbury Park has paid the purse pool from the total handle, and Running Aces began doing so in 2013. The situation led to a dispute between Running Aces, the harness horsemen and the racing commission on how much money the track should pay to make up the shortfall.
The auditor's report recommended the track make a "reasonable payment” to make up the difference, and that the state law regarding purse payments be clarified. It also recommended the racing commission improve its oversight.
Running Aces officials issued a statement that it paid an additional $100,000 into the purse fund in February and that other prior payments to horsemen offset the rest of the shortage.
"I and other members of the committee from both sides of the aisle have been raising serious questions about Running Aces' operations for some time,'' State Rep. Joe Atkins said in a statement to the Star Tribune. "We will discuss steps to prevent this from happening again and to ensure there is absolute integrity and honesty in Minnesota racing.''
Minnesota Racing Commission executive director Tom DiPasqualehas scheduled a meeting with the board of directors at Running Aces to discuss the report and the track's contention it does not owe any more money to the purse pool.