Churchill, Others Seek Payments from Hialeah

Churchill Downs Inc. has filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade, Fla., Circuit Court alleging that Hialeah Park has failed to make payments of approximately $185,000 in simulcast fees. The suit was filed July 27.

"These payments are in arrears for more than 30 days, and having exhausted all other avenues, we are pursuing payment through the legal system," said Karl Schmitt Jr., senior vice president of communications for Churchill Downs Inc.

During its meet that ended May 22, Hialeah conducted simulcast wagering on races from Churchill Downs and Hollywood Park, both of which are Churchill properties. According to the lawsuit, Hialeah has made only partial payments for the wagering conducted during its 2001 meet.

Churchill may not be alone in seeking legal remedy for outstanding payments from Hialeah. Don Litch, the assistant controller of Racing Services, indicated that his company is owed about $372,000 for winning wagers placed at its Fargo, N.D., betting outlet.

"We've been chasing money since the second week of April and not getting any response," Litch said. "It appears they flat out do not want to pay."

Hialeah officials were unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, Bruce Green, who represents the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, is moving ahead with a lawsuit against the track on behalf of horse owners who received checks that didn't clear.

Florida HBPA executive director Kent Stirling said he is aware of approximately 10 Hialeah checks valued at $265,000 that were returned as unpayable.

"We really don't know how high that number will ultimately go," Stirling said.