Horsemen, Delaware Park at Contract Impasse

The Delaware THA said Jan. 31 that efforts to strike a deal thus far have failed.

The Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association said Jan. 31 it is "at an impasse in negotiations" with Delaware Park on a new contract.

The contract between the parties expired Dec. 31. The status of full-card simulcasts as of Jan. 31 at Delaware Park wasn't immediately known; horsemen have the right to pull simulcast consent under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.

Edwin Kee, the Delaware Secretary of Agriculture, has participated in negotiations between the track and horsemen. The Delaware THA said no further negotiations are scheduled; live racing at Delaware Park usually begins in late April or early May.

"The one issue giving rise to the breakdown of negotiations is Delaware Park's demand that DTHA take a substantial amount of money from the purse account to reimburse Delaware Park for losses sustained in the racing operation," the horsemen's group said in a release. "This (comes) in spite of the fact that Delaware Park realizes substantial profit from its casino operation.

"DTHA's position is that the racing operation is a cost of doing business for the casino revenue."

Delaware Park officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment the morning of Jan. 31.

Purses at Delaware Park receive revenue from video lottery terminals, table games, and limited sports betting. According to the Delaware Lottery, purses at the track earned 9% of VLT revenue in 2012. The state's cut was 44%, while the track got 41% and vendors 6%.

The three racetrack casinos in Delaware have taken revenue hits because of increased gaming competition in neighboring Maryland and Pennsylvania. The Delaware facilities have been approved to offer in-state online casino gambling.

Earlier this year John Wayne, executive director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, said Delaware Park, the only Thoroughbred track in the state, has requested 100 live racing days for 2013 but is "in negotiations with the Delaware horsemen to approach the General Assembly to amend the code for less days. 'Less being more' during these economic times may be a solution in sustaining a competitive purse program to attract horsemen to race in Delaware and make the exported simulcast signal more attractive to bettors."

The track was awarded 100 days of live racing in 2012 but raced 94 days after weather- and entry-related cancellations.