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Running Aces to pay horse owners after purses came up short

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The Running Aces Harness Park in Anoka County reached a tentative deal with horse owners over purse winnings they never received.

A report earlier this month by the state Office of the Legislative Auditor found that park operators shorted race purses to horse owners by a total of nearly $437,000 over four years.

Track general manager Robert Farinella now says Running Aces – over the next three years – will pay the full amount it shorted owners from 2008 to 2012, the Pioneer Press reports. The plan is pending the approval of the full Minnesota Racing Commission.

Farinella, speaking at a legislative hearing Tuesday, said officials at the track in Columbus (roughly 25 miles northeast of Minneapolis) inadvertently shorted purses because they did not fully understand a state law that relates to purse contributions, the newspaper reports.

Legislative auditor James Nobles' 26-page report was also critical of oversight by the Minnesota Racing Commission, noting the regulators did not provide adequate oversight of the payouts and failed for years to notice the shortages.

Commission Executive Director Tom DiPasquale told lawmakers Tuesday the commission has new plans to more regularly review race operations.

Nobles said that payments to bettors weren’t at issue.

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