Youbet.com has reached an agreement to take bets on Gulfstream Park for that track’s meet which begins on Jan. 3, Sam Gordon, president of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said Dec. 30.
Youbet.com also has reached an agreement for Calder Race Course’s 2009 meet, Gordon said.
The Youbet.com agreements with the South Florida tracks have the same revenue splits as agreements reached Dec. 22 with TwinSpires.com and XpressBet.com, Gordon said. Those deals call for the advance deposit wagering (ADW) companies to pay a 9% fee on their handle for the Gulfstream signal and a 7% fee on their handle from the Calder signal.
“We have offered the exact same terms to TVG that Youbet has accepted, but so far they have not responded,” said Scott Daruty, president of TrackNet Media which is coordinating negotiations on the South Florida tracks’ signals.
TrackNet is a joint venture owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., Gulfstream’s parent, and Churchill Downs Inc., Calder’s parent. TrackNet negotiates contracts for Magna-owned XpressBet.com and CDI-owned TwinSpires.com.
The Dec. 22 agreement between the Florida HPBA, through its membership in the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group, was with TrackNet. It requires any ADW taking the Gulfstream and Calder 2009 signals to accept the same terms as TwinSpires.com and XpressBet.com.
Gulfstream president Bill Murphy said having agreements with at least three of the four largest ADWs is one reason he is “cautiously optimistic” about financial prospects for the upcoming 79-day meet.
Youbet.com and TVG did not carry Gulfstream races in 2008.
From April 21 through the Dec. 22 agreement, Calder was not carried on most large ADWs. TwinSpires.com and XpressBet.com are carrying Calder for the rest of its meet that ends Jan. 2.
For fans betting via ADWs and South Florida fans, Murphy said Gulfstream will again promote “the quality of our racing.”
In addition, Murphy said fans will find it easier to get into Gulfstream’s Hallandale Beach, Fla., plant.
Gulfstream has increased its number of free parking places from 3,000 to 5,500. Several areas now used for parking were set aside during the 2008 meet for construction equipment for the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex.
That complex, with 70 stores and restaurants, is scheduled to open in October 2009. Construction will continue during the race meet. But Gulfstream spokesman Mike Mullaney said work will not be done near the race track areas during racing hours.
Gulfstream also is adding a second valet parking lot, on the south side of its building. As in 2008, it will have valet parking on its north side.
In 2008, Gulfstream had three entrances for the public. In 2009, it will have four entrances on Wednesdays and Thursdays and on its dark Mondays and Tuesdays--with five on Fridays, Saturdays and
A new entrance on Federal Highway will be open each day. An entrance on 213th Street, the property’s south side, will be open Fridays through Sundays.
Gulfstream is cutting back from six-day to five-day race weeks, making Mondays newly dark, with a goal of increasing its field sizes. The track averaged 8.65 starters per race in 2008.
As in 2008, Gulfstream will send its live signal and Thoroughbred signals it imports to Calder, about eight miles west in Miami Gardens. Under an agreement between the Florida HPBA and the two tracks, Gulfstream will again take Calder’s signal and import signals when that track begins its 2009 meet in late April.
But Gulfstream did not renew an agreement under which harness track Pompano Park in Pompano Beach also received Gulfstream’s live an imported signals in 2008.
“We want people to come here to watch live Thoroughbred races, and see and feel the excitement,” Murphy said.
Simulcasts to Pompano Park, 20 miles from Gulfstream, did not provide as much revenue as live races do for Gulfstream and Florida Thoroughbred horsemen, he said.
Many fans are still lamenting that the clubhouse/casino building Gulfstream opened in 2006 has fewer than 1,000 seats facing the track--compared with more than 20,000 in its former/grandstand clubhouse.
“The seating issue is valid,” Murphy said. “But we have been doing things and will more this year (2009) to give people what they say want and add to the fun experience.”
The most visible changes will be in the outdoor area about 100 yards north of the finish line. That area previously known as North Park has been named Jameson Jockey Club under a sponsorship by the whiskey company.
It will have additional tikki bar-covered seats, along with more betting windows and plasma TVs.
Promotions will include $1 draft beers throughout the property every day in January.
“We are America’s best bet,” Murphy said. “Where else can you park free, get in for free, get a draft beer for only a dollar and see this quality of racing here in the sunshine?”