Calder Race Course has won the right to install slot machines.

Calder Race Course has won the right to install slot machines.

Eliot Schecter

Calder Cuts Purses; Eliminates Stakes

Calder has again cut purses; eight stakes cancelled.

Calder Race Course has announced another major cut in purses and the cancellation of eight $100,000 stakes races. The track, in a release, said it was trimming overnight purses by 17% effective Sept. 18.

For nearly three months, Calder’s parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., was at an impasse over wagering splits with horsemen, which withheld permission for the south Florida track to send its signal out of state. The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has still not reached an agreement with CDI over advance deposit wagering.

The track said it is forced to cut purses further because of "lower than anticipated business levels."

In June, an agreement was reached that allowed CDI Calder to resume sending its signal to non-Florida tracks and off-track betting sites. The contract did not, however, resolve the advance deposit wagering part of a massive signal blackout that has contributed to a severe decline in all-sources handle year-to-date at Calder.

The national Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group is negotiating Calder’s 2008 ADW contract with CDI. Since Calder opened its meet April 21, six New York state OTB corporations are the only ADWs the Florida HBPA has permitted to take bets on Calder. That blackout includes CDI-owned and all other United States-based Internet sites.

Calder reduced purses by 30% in late April and in May reduced the purses of eight stakes races. Now, besides a reduction in overnight purses, the track announced it will cut $1,020,000 to upcoming stakes.

All of the stakes Calder is eliminating are non-graded. Six of those had been scheduled for three of the track’s major Saturdays. The Shocker T. Handicap and Hollywood Wildcat Handicap were  scheduled for the Oct. 18 Festival of the Sun. The Kris S. Stakes and Cherokee Frolic Stakes were scheduled as part of the Dec. 6 Grand Slam I card. The Chaposa Springs Handicap and the Pete Axthelm Handicap were scheduled as part of the Dec. 27 Grand Slam III program.
Calder is retaining all 11 graded stakes scheduled for the remainder of its meet, which runs through Jan. 2, 2009.
But it is cutting purses from $200,000 to $150,000 on two graded stakes. Those are the La Prevoyante Handicap and the W.L. McKnight Handicap on the Dec. 13 Grand Slam II card.
However, Calder is keeping all eight stakes scheduled for its Nov. 8 Florida Million card for Florida-breds.
Calder will keep purses for all overnight stakes at a minimum of $55,000. That will keep those stakes as “black type” stakes.

The stakes races cancelled are the Shocker T. Handicap, Hollywood Wildcat Handicap, Challenge of the Americas Invitational, Kris S. Stakes, Cherokee Frolic Stakes, Chaposa Springs Handicap, Pete Axthelm Stakes, Tropical Park Oaks.

The track also announced the following reductions to stakes races: Brave Raj Stakes from $150,000 to $90,000; Foolish Pleasure Stakes from $150,000 to $90,000; La Prevoyante Handicap from $200,000 to $150,000; and W.L. McKnight Handicap from $200,000 to $150,000.

"A number of factors require that these reductions be made," Kevin Flanery, senior vice president of Churchill Downs Inc., said in a company release. "Calder has not fully recovered from the two and a half months at the beginning of the season when its signal was not allowed to be simulcast out of state. In addition, Calder racing has not been available through advance deposit wagering platforms, such as, since the season began on April 21 due to an ongoing dispute with the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group."

Correspondent Jim Freer contributed to this article.