CDI, Florida Horsemen Resume Meetings

CDI, Florida Horsemen Resume Meetings
By Jim Freer
Churchill Downs Inc. and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association on May 21 held their first meeting this month on 2008 contracts for Calder Race Course.
Officials of CDI, the parent of Calder, and officials of the FHBPA said they felt the dinner meeting in south Florida was “productive.” But they would not provide details, or say if another meeting is scheduled.

Amid the contracts dispute, the FHBPA has not permitted the Miami Gardens, Fla., track to export its signal to tracks outside Florida and to certain large-volume advance deposit wagering outlets. That has resulted in Calder’s total handle being down 73.5% percent to year-to-date for its meet that began April 21.

Calder’s handle, not including separate pool wagering, is $14,306,148, down from the $53,975,869 totaled through the same time period of last year’s meet, according to data compiled by The Jockey Club Information Systems. Purses have declined 8.5% to a daily average of $201,928.
CDI executive vice president Steve Sexton was part of the May 21 meeting with several FHBPA officers and executive director Kent Stirling.
“It is always productive to sit down and have a dialogue and keep open minds,” said FHBPA general counsel Bruce Green.
Calder has been holding races without a purses contract since it opened its season, and it has been a major player in the national dispute over division of ADW revenues.
Using authority under the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, the FHBPA has prevented Calder from sending its simulcast signal to any tracks outside Florida.
New York Off-Track Betting Corp. is the only ADW to which FHBPA is permitting Calder to send its signal and take bets. New York OTB early this year signed an agreement with the national Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group. The THG is representing FHBPA in its talks with ADWs -- including TrackNet Media Group, the content consortium of CDI and Magna Entertainment Corp.
The FHBPA has said it will not sign a purse’s contract without a contract on future slot machine revenues at Calder. Miami-Dade County voters on Jan. 29 passed a ballot issue that permits Calder to have slot machines.
CDI has said it will not have slot machines at Calder until 2009, at the earliest. Thus, CDI has said it sees no urgency for a Calder slots contract this year.
FHBPA wants a slots agreement this year “to assure that the rights of all parties are spelled out at an early date,” Green said.
THG’s negotiations on FHBPA and Calder ADW revenues are a separate issue from the slots and purses contract, Green said.
Thus, it is possible that FHBPA, if it has purses and slots contracts, could permit Calder to send simulcasts to tracks outside Florida while still withholding Calder from most ADWs if that contract is still not signed.

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