By Jim Freer
After the start of Calder Race Course's opening-day card of nine races April 21, the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association agreed to permit the racetrack to send its signal to New York’s off-track betting companies. Six OTB outlets in that state received the signal for the last three races.
The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Group, which is locked in a dispute with TrackNet Media Group over ADW signal distribution rights, had signed an agreement on revenues with New York OTB in February, said FHBPA executive director Kent Stirling. Thus, when New York OTB asked for the signal shortly before the start of Calder’s card, FHBPA agreed to send it.
Gulfstream Park, located about eight miles from Calder, received Calder’s signal and imported signals under a cross-simulcasting agreement separate from FHBPA’s dispute with Calder.
All Florida pari-mutuels that regularly take Calder’s signal under intra-state wagering agreements received the signal on April 21, Calder officials said.
But Calder opened its season without sending its signal and imported signals to The Isle Racing & Casino at Pompano Park. As part of cross-simulcasting that began last September, Calder and later Gulfstream sent signals to that harness track.
FHBPA does not have meetings scheduled with Calder and its parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., on April 22, Stirling said.
“My guess is that the situation (no contracts on purses and other issues) will continue to Friday,” he said.
The FHBPA and CDI have rejected the other’s latest proposal on a split of future slot machine revenues at Calder, Stirling said. CDI has said it might have a casino with slot machines at Calder as early as next year, but has not announced plans.
An agreement with FHBPA on purses is required for Calder to send its signal to tracks outside Florida.
Last September, the Supreme Court of Florida overturned a state law that prohibited Thoroughbred tracks from sending their signal to other pari-mutuels within 50 miles. Pompano Park is about 25 miles from each Thoroughbred track.
But after collecting data, Calder has determined that what it calls an “experiment” was not generating enough new Thoroughbred customers at Pompano Park to warrant continuing it, a Calder spokeswoman said.
Calder understands that some fans at Pompano Park might be inconvenienced, she said. Calder will examine data on what it calls “a new phase” of cross-simulcasting before determining longer-term plans.
Officials of Pompano Park, a subsidiary of Isle of Capri Casinos, were not available for comment.
Calder is not providing data on cross-simulcasting.
In February, Pompano Park said it took a daily average $55,614 in bets on Gulfstream races during the first 34 days of that track’s meet. Pompano Park also has said that betting on Calder and later Gulfstream accounted for about half of its afternoon Thoroughbred cross-simulcast betting.
That simulcasting has attracted several hundred fans per day, with larger crowds on weekends, to Pompano Park.
Calder and Gulfstream have said a large but undetermined number would otherwise have gone to the live track--where that track and horsemen receive larger shares of takeouts.