Judge Gives Mountaineer, Horsemen More Time

A judge has given Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort and the Mountaineer Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association until Feb. 21 to defend their positions in a dispute over a contract and racing dates.

At a Feb. 13 hearing in Wheeling, W.Va., U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Stamp Jr. did not rule on the Mountaineer HBPA's request for a preliminary injunction. The horsemen's group filed the lawsuit in early February because horsemen and management failed to agree on an amendment to their contract. In turn, Mountaineer said horsemen were attempting to use the contract to increase live racing dates.

If granted, a preliminary injunction would halt simulcasting. The Wheeling Intelligencer reported that Joe Cuomo, director of racing and audits for the West Virginia Racing Commission, testified that Mountaineer could lose at least $10.6 if simulcasting was suspended. The track relies heavily on export of its signal.

The newspaper reported that Mountaineer HPBA president Chuck Bailey said more racing dates are necessary to accommodate the horses that need to race. Mountaineer counsel Wendel Turner told the court additional racing days would water down the product and force a reduction in daily average purses.

The racing commission approved Mountaineer's request for 210 days of live racing in 2003 even though West Virginia Lottery Commission statutes require 220 days of racing for facilities with video lottery terminals. A lottery official said the track was "grandfathered" from the requirement, the newspaper reported.