Calder, Horsemen Reach Purse Agreement

Calder, Horsemen Reach Purse Agreement
Photo: Jim Lisa Photos
Calder Race Course

Calder Race Course announced April 16 that it has signed a 2009 purse contract agreement with the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. The Miami Gardens, Fla., track and its parent, Churchill Downs Inc., reached the agreement with the Florida HBPA on the evening of April 15.
Calder said the purse agreement is for its 2009 Calder meet, from April 24 to Oct. 21, and for its Tropical meet, from Oct. 22 to Jan. 2, 2010.
In a news release, Calder said: “The parties have worked together, along with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association over the last three months to ensure that an agreement would be in place prior to the start of the live racing meet at Calder.”
Calder and CDI had previously signed simulcast and advance deposit wagering agreements with the Florida HBPA for Calder’s two 2009 meets.
Signing of the purse agreement will enable Calder to begin and run its meets without the contract disputes that proved costly in 2008, in revenue and in relations with horsemen
“Everything is done, and the meet will be off to a start on all cylinders,” Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida HBPA, told The Blood-Horse.
On April 7, officials of Calder and of the Florida HBPA said they were still negotiating two points in a 15-point purse contract.
Those issues involved the method for distributing an additional $300,000 that the Florida TBOA is contributing for purses in 2-year-old races at Calder this year.
Stirling said the Florida HBPA has agreed with Calder and CDI on a division of that money that is acceptable to both parties.
“We are delighted to have a signed agreement for the upcoming season,” said Sam Gordon, president of the Florida HBPA. “We appreciate the partnership we’re forming with the new management at Calder and look forward to a successful year.”
John Marshall, vice president and general manager of racing for Calder, said: “This agreement is a positive development for everyone with a stake in South Florida racing, especially Thoroughbred racing fans. Our renewed partnership with the FTBOA and FHBPA could not come at a better time as Calder races into the future.”
In Calder’s news release, Marshall and Gordon praised FTBOA executive vice-president Richard Hancock and his board for their contributions to Calder’s upcoming race meets.
Stirling noted that the purse agreement is in place prior to the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s two-year-olds in training sale that will be held from April 20 to April 23.
“This agreement lets people know that the purses are back and that it will be worthwhile to buy a horse and race at Calder this year,” he said.
On April 7, Marshall said Calder in 2009 expects to maintain daily average purses in the range of $160,000 for overnights and for $190,000 including stakes.
“We will have to manage it responsibly and be able to throttle it up and back based on the flow of business,” he said.
Calder’s first condition book shows a 12-race opening day card with $190,500 in purses. No stakes are listed for that card.
The impact of last year’s stalled negotiations included Calder’s Sept. 12 decision to cut its average daily overnight purses from $180,000 to $150,000. Calder made that decision after lower-than-projected handle resulted in an overpayment into the purse account for the two preceding months.
Last year’s contract disputes resulted in Calder not being able to send its simulcast signal outside Florida until early July and its races not being available on most ADWs until late December. Last Dec. 22, 10 days before the track ended its 2008 meet, Calder and the Florida HPBA signed an ADW contract for 2009.
Calder’s all-sources handle fell 30% from $923 million in 2007 to $650 million in 2008, according to CDI’s annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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