The 2010 World Trotting Derby is in jeopardy following the announcement Wednesday by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn that proposed budget cuts to alleviate a $13 billion deficit include eliminating state funding for the race for 3-year-old trotters at the Du Quoin, Ill. fairgrounds.
“It hasn’t officially happened because the governor’s budget has to be approved by the legislature…but at the same time, funding for the World Trot is in jeopardy,” Charlyn Fargo, bureau chief, county fairs and horse racing, Illinois Dept. of Agriculture, told harnessracing.com. “It’s an unfortunate thing because (the race) is an easy prey.”
Monetary issues also came into play last year, with purses not immediately being paid. Jim Hannon, general manager of the Du Quoin fair, said some of the purse money for the 2009 World Trotting Derby was paid in January, but he was unsure when the rest of the funds would be available.
“The purses for the 2009 World Trotting Derby have not been paid; only 50 percent of the purses have been paid because of the budget crisis in Illinois,” said Hannon. “We feel awful that the people who raced still haven’t gotten paid. As soon as we get the money from the state—which we’ve asked for, but we’re somewhat down the line in when we are to be paid as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, have all not been paid,--we will pay it.”
Fargo said the state’s portion of the $550,000 purse for the World Trotting Derby is less than $100,000, but that money is necessary for the race’s survival. She said she is hoping the state’s legislators are able to find a way to continue its funding.
“We have to get the word out to legislators that this is important,” said Fargo. “It’s such a great tradition and a great race, and it brings so much to Illinois to have it.”