Judge Dismisses Suit Over Simulcasting

Rosecroft Raceway contended anti-trust law violations over simulcasting refusal.

A federal judge has dismissed an anti-trust lawsuit filed by a closed Maryland harness track against Churchill Downs, TrackNet Media Group, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and other parties over full-card simulcasts.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Bennett rejected Rosecroft Raceway’s allegations that Churchill Downs, TrackNet Media, and the other defendants broke a contract when they eliminated Rosecroft’s ability to air Churchill Downs races.

In his ruling, Bennett said Churchill and TrackNet media did not breach the simulcast agreement by refusing the transmission of the signals to Rosecroft "since Rosecroft did not have the necessary consents under the (Interstate Horseracing) Act (of 1978) to continue to receive or accept wagering on out-of-state Thoroughbred horse racing simulcasts. If TrackNet or Churchill Downs had restored the simulcast signals to Rosecroft without the consent of the Maryland Jockey Club, they would have violated the Interstate Horseracing Act."

Cloverleaf Enterprises, which owns Rosecroft Raceway, filed the suit in the spring of 2009 when it began losing simulcast signals after Cloverleaf refused to pay weekly payments of $118,000 to Maryland Thoroughbred interests for the right to take the signals.

Cloverleaf had entered into a long-term agreement with the Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and Maryland Horse Breeders Association that allowed Rosecroft to take Thoroughbred signals. Under the deal, Rosecroft is to pay the parties $5.9 million a year.

The cross-breed agreement allows a party owed any funds to terminate it and take legal action. The Maryland Racing Commission, which has jurisdiction under the IHA, stepped in last spring and revoked Rosecroft’s license to import the races.

According to the memorandum opinion in the case, Rosecroft informed the MJC, Maryland THA, and MHBA in August 2008 it could no longer afford the weekly payments. The parties agreed to a one-time payment of $470,000 for 2008 and began renegotiating the contract, but the talks ended in 2009.