Progress Noted in Calder Contract Talks

Progress Noted in Calder Contract Talks
Photo: Leslie Martin

by Jim Freer

The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association said April 16 though advance deposit wagering remains a major issue, it believes there has been progress in other areas of contract talks for the Calder Race Course meet that begins April 21.

The Florida HBPA also is seeking agreements with the Miami Gardens, Fla., track and its parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., on purses, simulcasts, and any revenue from slot machines that Calder would install. Florida HBPA members plan to enter horses and race at Calder April 21 even without contracts, said Barry Rose, an owner/trainer and Florida HBPA treasurer.

“We feel there still needs to be substantial progress on ADW,” Rose said.

“We are still in the negotiating process and are trying to find a solution,” Calder president Ken Dunn said without disclosing details of talks. Dunn met with a large group of Florida HBPA members at a “Welcome Back” program at Calder April 16.

The Florida HBPA believes “there has been substantial progress” on negotiations for purses, Rose said. The group expects to hold its next meeting with Calder officials or have phone negotiations by April 18, he said.

The Florida HBPA will not sign contracts on purses, simulcasts, and slot machines unless there also is substantial progress on the ADW component, Rose said.

Neither side would give details on negotiations on slot machines, which became permissible for Calder following Miami-Dade County voters’ passage of a ballot issue Jan. 29. 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.

The Florida HBPA has given the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group authority to negotiate terms with ADW companies for accepting bets on this year’s Calder races. The THG was formed last December to in part negotiate ADW contracts with tracks and their parent companies, several of which own Internet and other ADW services.

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