Ohio Horsemen, Tracks Still Working on Dates

The Ohio State Racing Commission was unable to act on 2014 racing dates at its Sept. 24 meeting, but a horsemen's representative said negotiations on dates are progressing.

The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association board of directors is scheduled to meet Sept. 26 to discuss racing schedules for next year. The organization's approval is necessary should racetracks apply for fewer dates than the minimum set by statute.

ThistleDown Racino, formerly called Thistledown, applied for 122 days of live racing in 2014 and therefore meets its minimum.

River Downs, still under construction, asked for 102 days, which is short of its minimum. Penn National Gaming Inc. requested a combined 77 days of racing at Beulah Park and its replacement, Hollywood Mahoning Valley Race Course; Beulah Park usually races in excess of 110 days a year.

"We're closer to getting dates agreements done in late September than we have been in previous years," Ohio HBPA executive director Dave Basler said.

The OSRC in a release said it "may or may not consider dates applications" when it next meets Oct. 24.

Basler said the fact horsemen, both Thoroughbred and Standardbred, still have no agreement with racetracks on the percentage of video lottery terminal revenue that will go to purses and breed development won't impact negotiations on 2014 racing dates.

The 2011 law authorizing racetrack VLTs in Ohio left the percentage for horsemen open to negotiations. A 2012 casino clean-up bill added some clarity by setting the range at 9%-11% and authorizing the OSRC to set the percentage should an agreement between tracks and horsemen not be reached.

This year, another statute was approved that orders the OSRC to set the VLT percentage by about Jan. 1, 2014. So far, the two racetracks with operating VLTs have paid the minimum 9% to escrow accounts.

The lack of a VLT revenue agreement with ThistleDown Racino led the Ohio HBPA to block the track from transmitting its live racing signal out of state with the exception of a few advance deposit wagering services. That has been the case since the meet began in April.

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