No Deal Yet Between Calder, Horsemen

No Deal Yet Between Calder, Horsemen
Photo: Leslie Martin

by Jim Freer

Florida horsemen and officials at Calder Race Course and parent company Churchill Downs Inc. met April 14 but did not agree on contracts for the Calder meet that begins April 21.

The parties plan to meet again April 15 at Calder in Miami Gardens, Fla. As of late afternoon April 14, they had not set a time for the meeting.

Neither side would disclose details of three April 14 meetings. However, Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association president Sam Gordon said CDI made an offer the Florida HBPA considers unacceptable. The main dispute is over a split of any future revenue from slot machines, which Miami-Dade County voters approved in a Jan. 29 referendum.

The Florida HBPA wants a slots agreement in this year’s contract. CDI and Calder do not want a slots agreement this year because, they note, Calder will not have a casino with slot machines until 2009 at the earliest.

In addition, the Florida HBPA said April 11 it has given the new Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group authority to negotiate terms with advance deposit wagering companies for accepting bets on this year’s Calder races.

Through a spokesperson, CDI executive vice president Steve Sexton and Calder president Ken Dunn said they felt afternoon discussions April 14 were healthy. They said they hope the parties “can come to an agreement on some things” April 15.

Gordon repeated a statement he gave The Blood-Horse April 11. He said the Florida HBPA does not plan to sign “contracts with Calder for racing and simulcasting until separate agreements on slot machines and on ADWs through the THG are in place.”

The THG is comprised of 18 horsemen’s organizations that have contracts with 52 racetracks in North America. The THG is working with the Texas Horsemen’s Partnership on an ADW contract for Lone Star Park, and also is involved in negotiations in Kentucky, where Churchill Downs opens April 26.

In Kentucky, contract negotiations for the upcoming Churchill meet include ADW revenue splits for the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

One of its first goals is to negotiate ADW contracts with tracks and their parent companies, several of which own Internet and other ADW services. CDI owns TwinSpires.com and its wagering system. TrackNet Media Group is a partnership between CDI and Magna Entertainment Corp., which operates XpressBet.

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