Because of the dispute over simulcast fees and revenue, Calder Race Course will not offer wagering on the May 2 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), as well as all other races on the two programs.
According to a statement from Calder owner Churchill Downs Inc., the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association won’t consent to the signal export. In late April, the Florida HBPA pulled its approval for Calder to export its signal to out-of-state wagering outlets and advance deposit wagering companies.
The Florida HBPA and Kentucky HBPA are members of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group, which is attempting to negotiate a better return on revenue from various pari-mutuel sources, including ADW.
“It’s very disappointing that fans in the South Florida marketplace are being denied the opportunity to wager on the Kentucky Derby, the country’s most important horse race,” Churchill Downs president Steve Sexton said in a May 1 statement. “We have an impressive race day and wish the horsemen would allow Calder’s patrons to enjoy it.
“We have attempted to discuss a purse contract with the Florida horsemen, but they refuse to do so without a slots agreement, on which we have diligently tried to reach resolution over the last several months. This demand is especially frustrating since 2008 purses will not be affected by the slots agreement. At a time when our sport’s visibility is at its highest, the horsemen have chosen to alienate new fans and abandon existing fans.”
Calder has been approved to install slot machines but hasn’t announced a start-up date.
THG officials and representatives of individual horsemen’s groups have said a change in the pari-mutuel revenue model is necessary. They currently are targeting ADW.
“Since its inception, ADWs recognized the distinct possibility that there would be a significant downturn in wagering at racetracks,” Kentucky HBPA president Rick Hiles said in a letter sent to Kentucky horsemen in late April. “Early on, they initiated ‘bettor-poaching fees,’ later referred to as ‘source-market fees,’ to address the erosion of betting at the racetrack where horsemen receive a larger share of the wagering dollar. Later, ADWs decided to increase the host fees as opposed to source-market fees, but in the end, while ADWs enjoyed immense profits from siphoning off betting patrons at the racetrack, horsemen continued to experience a decline in purses.
“Experts continue to lament that the model is broke, but no one seems to have an answer on how it should be fixed. Exacerbating the problem is that now several racetracks have entered into the national ADW business. Therefore, while the ADWs flourish and racetracks profit from their ownership of the ADWs, horsemen’s problems with a lower share of the wagering dollar are compounded. With this backdrop, horsemen have decided that the time has come to restructure the model to assure that horsemen are receiving an equitable share of wagering revenue.
“It was never our intention to alienate the betting public; we are simply attempting to assure that horsemen can continue to provide the quality of racing with reasonable purses that everyone richly deserves.”
CDI owns and operates the TwinSpires.com ADW service. TwinSpires.com will only offer wagering on the Oaks, Derby, and May 3 Woodford Reserve Stakes (gr. IT). The ADW provider will not be able to offer wagering on other races on the two Churchill programs.
Churchill in its May 1 release said wagering on the May 2-3 programs will be available at all other tracks and off-track betting outlets in the United States except for two Indiana OTB parlors in Clarksville and Evansville. Churchill and Kentucky horsemen for years have kept the Kentucky Thoroughbred signals out of those two Indiana Downs-owned facilities, which border Kentucky.
A Gulfstream Park spokesman said May 2 arrangements had been made for Gulfstream to take the Derby program through Tampa Bay Downs. Gulfstream usually gets the Churchill signal through Calder, but Calder can't import it.