Reasons For Mountaineer Cancellation in Dispute

Mountaineer Park has cancelled live racing on Monday, Jan. 1, and Tuesday, Jan. 2, with racing scheduled to resume at the Chester, W. Va., track on Jan. 13. Rose Mary Williams, the track's director of racing, said Sunday the decision to cancel was based on forecasts for a winter storm which passed through the Northeast on Saturday.

However, a report on the Equibase web site on Friday said that racing was cancelled due to a "dispute" between the local Horsmen's Benevolent and Protective Association and management. Track officials denied the existence of a dispute with the horsemen, stressing that the cancellations were weather related.

Robert Moses, the Equibase employee who reported the cancellations, said on Sunday from West Virginia that he "made that assumption as a contract for horsemen for 2001 had not been signed."

Local horseman Michael Popovich said he didn't know why racing was cancelled on Monday and Tuesday, but confirmed that a new contract between the track and horsemen has yet to be signed. Popovich, a member of the HBPA's board of directors prior to an election held on Dec. 29 -- the results of which Popovich was unaware of on Sunday -- said friction between the horsemen and management does exist, and that the horsemen want more live racing dates and other changes.

"We want to try to get more racing days and they want 210," Popovich said.

Track management denies the lack of a new contract and said 210 racing dates is the maximum amount they can run due to local regulations.

"The contract is signed," said Williams, who continued to say that the old contract was to expire on Dec. 31, 2000, and the new one was signed on the 29th. Williams later called to say the old contract expires Jan 1,
2001.

Racing was conducted on Saturday night as snow fell at the track and with the wind chill in single digits in the area. Forecasts made over the weekend for Monday and Tuesday predict mostly cloudy Monday with a high in the mid-20's and a low in the mid-teens and partly cloudy Tuesday with a high of 25 and a low of 22. As of 1:00 p.m. Monday, forecasts for Monday call for snow showers with temperature predictions remaining unchanged.

The track has cancelled entire live racing programs twice in December due to weather and cancelled part of another due to track conditions. Aqueduct, Suffolk Downs, and Philadelphia Park, each of which cancelled racing for Saturday and Sunday due to the same storm Williams cited for the Mountaineer closure, resumed racing on Monday.

Mountaineer was not previously scheduled to conduct live racing from Jan. 3-12, according to both track officials and horsemen.

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