Calder Casino & Race Course and the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association’s board of directors June 3 jointly announced a 7.5% purse increase beginning with Calder’s June 3 race card.
In a June 2 letter to Florida HBPA members, Calder said daily overnight purses had averaged $170,000 since it opened its 2011 meet April 25. Thus, the increases will raise that average to $182,750.
Calder announced the purse increase several hours after the Florida HBPA board agreed to an advance deposit wagering contract for the Miami Gardens, Fla., track’s 2011 season that extends through Dec. 2. The ADW agreement and the purse hike follow several weeks of often bitter negotiations that centered on a dispute over ADW source-market revenue.
In the negotiations, the Florida HBPA said it would consider not granting permission for Calder to send its signal to some ADWs if the track, owned by Churchill Downs Inc., did not agree to a new ADW contract that would provide higher revenue for Calder purses.
In its June 2 notice, Calder said it would cut average daily overnight purses by 10%-15% if the Florida HBPA cut off any signals to ADWs.
The Florida HBPA renewed the ADW contract’s 2010 terms to prevent the prospect of lower race purses, its executive director Kent Stirling told The Blood-Horse. The Florida HBPA will seek a new ADW contract in 2012, he said.
Stirling and several trainers have told The Blood-Horse they believe Calder should have started the 2011 meet with daily overnights higher than $170,000—adding some of the purses-designated slot machine revenue it instead has used to create an underpayment in the purse account. Calder vice president and general manager John Marshall has said Calder opened with a conservative overnight average, with a goal of later being able to raise rather than cut purses.
In their June 3 statement, Calder and the Florida HBPA said the purse increase is applied evenly to base overnight purses excluding overnight stakes. Minimum Florida owners’ awards will increase from $500 to $1,000, and 2-year-old maiden special weight purses increase from $39,000 to $40,000.
In the statement, Calder officials and the Florida HBPA said they will continue managing the purse account responsibly and both look forward to possible future purse increase opportunities.