Oregon Horsemen Supporting NEHBPA

Suffolk Downs will no longer to be able to simulcast races from Portland Meadows.

By Lynne Snierson

The horsemen in Oregon have joined the list of groups supporting the New England chapter of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, although Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts remains open for simulcasting while the bitter dispute over a live racing contract for 2011 continues.

In the newest development Feb. 7, the East Boston track will no longer be able to simulcast races from Portland Meadows. On January 29th, the NEHBPA pulled its consent for Suffolk to import races from the New York Racing Association, and over the weekend, horsemen in other jurisdictions stopped the signals from Beulah Park in Ohio and Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida.

While neither Suffolk chief executive officer Chip Tuttle nor Frank Frisoli, the attorney representing the NEHPBA, were available for comment, sources said the two sides remain far apart in a contentious disagreement over the number of live racing days, purse money, and the split of simulcast revenue.

The Daily Racing Form ran an ad placed by the track in its Sunday (Feb. 6) editions. The ad was written as an open letter to state Suffolk’s position in the dispute. As reported by The BloodHorse Feb. 5, Tuttle stated that the track intends to run a live meet in 2011, and that position was reiterated in the letter. Also as reported initially, Tuttle said he may negotiate with an alternative horsemen’s organization.

The Daily Racing Form ad stated: “You should be aware that while we have been willing to talk with the NEHBPA, our recognition agreement with the organization expired at the end of 2010. That means until our live meet begins in 2011, there is technically no recognized horsemen’s group in Massachusetts and we are free to discuss parameters of the 2011 season with any individual owners, trainers, or organizations.”

There is continued talk of a rival group called the Thoroughbred Horsemen of Massachusetts coming together, but none of the owners, trainers, or breeders said to be disgruntled with the way the NEHBPA is representing them would comment for the record.