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Calder Has Agreements on Purses, Calendar

South Florida tracks also submit dates' requests that do not overlap.

Calder Casino & Race Course is preparing to open its eight-month racing season April 25 with its purse contract and all other racing contracts and calendars in place.

Calder will have live racing on Thursdays through Sundays through early November, John Marshall, the track’s vice president and general manager for racing, said March 31.

On Nov. 15, Calder will add Mondays to its schedule, Marshall said. The Miami Gardens, Fla., track’s season will extend through Jan. 3, 2011.

Also on March 31, Calder and Gulfstream Park submitted their final filings for 2010-2011 racing dates to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. The southeast Florida tracks, as expected, will again avoid conflicts, with Gulfstream racing from early January through late April and Calder racing throughout the other months.

On March 19, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association signed a 2010 purse contract with Calder and its parent Churchill Downs Inc. The Calder-Florida HBPA contracts for simulcasting and advance deposit wagering were signed in 2008 and are in place for 2010.

Calder, Gulfstream and the Florida HBPA in late March agreed to extend the cross-simulcasting arrangement for Calder and Gulfstream for 12 months, through May 31, 2011.

Having contracts in place a month before Calder begins racing "provides important assurances for our horsemen and will enable us to effectively market our racing product," said Sam Gordon, president of the Florida HBPA.

In September 2007, the two southeast Florida tracks began their arrangement in which the track holding live racing sends its signal and imported signals to the dark track. They began cross-simulcasting after the Supreme Court of Florida ruled that a state law that prohibited that type of signal sharing was illegal.

Gulfstream, in Hallandale Beach, Fla., is eight miles east of Calder.

Under their cross simulcasting agreement, the host track’s blended split share at the guest track is about 14 cents with half of that going to purses. The guest track’s blended share is about seven cents, with 25% going to purses.

"All three parties have a contract that they feel makes sense," said Gulfsream president and general manager Ken Dunn.

Marshall said that having all contract talks resolved "gives notice to our fans and horsemen that they can have confidence in our products. It will let us focus on marketing and promotions to get our meet off to a good start."

Calder and the Florida HBPA did not disclose financial details of their purse contract. Officials of the Florida HBPA said the contract is the same as 2009, with the addition of slot machine revenues from the casino that Calder opened in January 2010.

Under an agreement signed in 2008, Calder this year will provide about $4.8 million in slots revenue for overnight purses. That will add about $30,000 per race day to those purses, the FHBPA estimates.

Calder and the Florida HBPA are hoping that the track will rebound from the past two years when handle was severely impacted by contract disputes and from the recession that has led to lower handle throughout the racing industry.

In 2008, contract disputes that pitted Calder and CDI against the Florida HBPA kept Calder from sending simulcasts to tracks outside Florida and from receiving about a dozen tracks’ signals for 10 weeks. The disputes also prevented most major ADWs from taking bets on Calder races for almost its entire meet, and led Calder to cut overnight purses several times and cancel more than a dozen late-year stakes.

According to CDI’s reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Calder’s all-source handle fell from $923 million in 2007 to $650 million in 2008. Calder had all-sources handle of $673 million in 2009, according to those reports.

March 31 was the deadline for Florida’s Thoroughbred permit holders to submit final filings for dates--for races to be run during the period between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011.

Since a 2002 change in state law, Florida Thoroughbred tracks have been able to select their race dates. In prior years, state racing regulators determined dates for those tracks.

Here are the dates the tracks listed in final filings:

--Calder -- June 4, 2010 to Oct. 19, 2010 for Calder Meet; Oct. 21, 2010 to Jan. 3, 2011 for Tropical at Calder Meet; April 25, 2011 to May 30, 2011 for Calder Meet.

--Gulfstream -- Jan. 5, 2011 to April 24, 2011.