Suffolk Downs

Suffolk Downs

Chip Bott

New England Horsemen: Simulcasting an Issue

Horsemen are seeking more simulcasting revenue than track is offering.


The New England Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association says its decision to block simulcasts of the New York Racing Association to Sufolk Downs is due primarily to a dispute over revenues.

According to Frank J. Frisoli, legal counsel for the NEHPBA, the horsemen’s group used its right to block the NYRA simulcasts into Suffolk Downs because of an inability to reach terms of a new contract with the Massachusetts track. The NEHBPA said Suffolk had proposed a reduction of live racing days that is below the minimum set by state law and had requested horsemen to support legislation that would reduce the minimum number of live racing days annually.

Also, the contract proposed by Suffolk would have allocated only 4% of simulcast revenues to purses, the minimum under state law, according to the NEHBPA.

Suffolk Downs has been granted 100 live days of racing for 2011, the minimum required under state law, but according to the horsemen’s group has requested that they want the minimum reduced to 67 days, with contingencies to increase it to 76 days. Suffolk has projected $7.5 million in purses for 2011, which would be about $75,000 a day spread over 100 days.

Suffolk Downs president Chip Tuttle said Jan. 28 that the horsemen’s requests would require management to pay $3 million than they are required to under state law.

The NEHBPA is seeking an allocation of 7.5%, the maximum under state law, of simulcasting revenue to purses, which the organization said would amount to a 50-50 split between horsemen and the track.

"The New England HBPA simply seeks a fair share of gross revenue commensurate with revenue sharing in virtually every other jurisdiction," Frisoli said in an e-mail. "Suffolk Downs does not want live racing in 2011 and took a position intended to accomplish that objective by insisting it retain 75% of simulcasting revenue when everyone else does a 50-50 split."

The NEHBPA also said track management on Jan. 29 denied the horsemen’s group access to the stable area and its offices located there.