Churchill Downs Inc. said May 15 it reached an agreement with Maryland horsemen that will permit Calder Race Course to take Pimlico Race Course’s signal May 16-17, including the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Without the agreement, CDI subsidiary Calder and all other Florida tracks would not have been able to show or take bets on the May 17 Preakness--a situation that was a potential public relations nightmare.
Under the deal with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Calder will be able to export Pimlico’s signal for the two days to Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, harness track Pompano Park, and all eligible Greyhound tracks and jai-alai frontons in Florida.
The MTHA said the agreement requires Calder to put its share and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association’s share of takeout on bets at Calder on the two days of races at Pimlico into an escrow account until those two parties settle their contract disputes.
There will be no escrowing of any takeout shares at other Florida tracks, said Maryland THA general counsel Alan Foreman.
Since Calder opened its meet April 21, the Maryland THA has used its authority under the Interstate Horseracing Act to prevent Pimlico from sending its signal to Calder. Beginning May 18, the Maryland THA will again prevent the Baltimore track from sending its signal to Calder, in Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Florida HBPA has not signed contracts with Calder for its 2008 meet. The dispute centers on a split of revenue from slot machines, which CDI is considering for Calder. The Florida HBPA has designated the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group to negotiate 2008 contracts on advance deposit wagering on Calder races.
Since Calder opened its 2008 meet, the Florida HBPA has not permitted it to send its signal to tracks outside Florida. With the exception of New York off-track betting corporations, Florida horsemen are not permitting ADWs to take bets on Calder races.
“While this agreement doesn’t solve the overall horsemen’s disputes and only allows the Maryland signal to Calder and the Florida ITWs for two days, we believe it is important to our Calder customers and the racing fans throughout Florida to be able to wager on the Preakness Stakes and the entire Pimlico cards on Friday and Saturday,” said Steve Sexton, executive vice president of CDI.
The two days’ cards feature many of Pimlico’s biggest stakes, including the May 16 Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II).
“Our feeling is that this (agreement) for this weekend is in the best interests of the industry and of racing fans in Florida,” Foreman said. “Hopefully, this will spur further discussions.”
Last year, combined betting on the Preakness card at Calder and other Florida tracks was $4.6 million, according to Calder. That included $840,000 at Calder. Assuming a 21% blended takeout rate, Pimlico, Florida tracks, and the Maryland horsemen divvied up about $970,000 from Florida bets.