Horsemen, Rockingham Strike Simulcasting Accord

Following four hours of intense discussion early Sunday morning, Rockingham Park management and the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association reached a two-year agreement on a contract.

The Monday and Wednesday cards have been canceled, but racing will resume June 22. If the dispute had lingered, the grade III, $200,000 New Hampshire Sweepstakes scheduled for June 23 may have been in jeopardy.

"We are pleased to be working together," said Ed Callahan, vice president and general manager of Rockingham Park. "We'll resume live racing on Friday night, and we're all looking forward to a great season."

Simulcasting will continue as usual throughout the week.

Terms of the new contract were not disclosed, but horsemen were seeking 4.5% of all simulcast dollars in the first year -- up from 4% -- and 5% in the second year of the contract.

"We are very pleased that we have reaced an agreement that will be mutually beneficial to both Rockingham and our horsemen," said Manny Roos, president of the New England HBPA. "Our dispute was mainly over the dollars that were paid to the horsemen from incoming simulcasting, and we were able to come to a two-year agreement that was acceptable to both parities.

"This will provide our horsemen with the highest purses, on a per race basis, ever offered in New England."

Still to be decided is the state of racing legislation in Massachusetts. The extension on the current racing bill runs out o June 30, and if no new legislation is enacted, the laws would revert to legislation in place in the late 1970s before simulcasting was legalized.