No 'Signal Wars' Evident at Turfway Park

No 'Signal Wars' Evident at Turfway Park
Photo: Pat Lang
Turfway Park's fall meet begins Sept. 3.

Turfway Park said Aug. 20 it has received horsemen’s consent to distribute its racing signal for the upcoming fall under the auspices of the present exclusive agreement with TVG, thus ending any speculation of a standoff similar to those plaguing other tracks.

Bob Elliston, president of Turfway Park, said he received the consent letter from the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association Aug. 20, exactly two weeks before the Florence-area track is scheduled to open its fall meet.

Elliston said the combination of host fees and source market fees granted under the nine-year-old TVG arrangement “satisfies those parameters” of revenues shares horsemen are seeking to increase from those realized by certain advance deposit wagering entities.

“TVG has a very equitable deal for us at this time” said Elliston, who said terms of the TVG contract are confidential.

Elliston deferred comment on the horsemen’s opinion of exclusive contracts with TVG to the Kentucky HBPA, which did not immediately respond to requests for an interview.

The exclusive agreement with TVG and Turfway Park expires in April 2009, Elliston said. Keeneland, which co-owns Turfway Park along with a subsidiary of Harrah’s Entertainment, also has a long-standing exclusive agreement with TVG. It is believed the TVG agreement with Keeneland expires at the conclusion of the Lexington track’s upcoming fall meet, which is scheduled to run from Oct. 3 to Oct. 25. Keeneland officials were not immediately available for comment.

Elliston said there was a “sharing of information” with the Kentucky HBPA, including terms of the TVG agreement, and that talks with the horsemen’s group were productive.

“We have been working on it—I didn’t want a situation similar to what happened to Ellis Park right at the beginning of their meet,” Elliston said.

Ellis Park, which is currently running its live meet, announced the day before its scheduled July 4 opening it would close the Henderson-area track over a signal standoff with horsemen, before quickly reversing its position and opening the facility for racing a week later.

The Turfway fall meet is scheduled to run from Sept. 3 to Oct. 2. Consecutive winter meets then are scheduled to run Nov. 30 through April 2, 2009.

It appears that ADWs, such as Churchill Downs Inc.’s Twinspires.com and Magna Entertainment Corp.’s XpressBet.com, will not be receiving the Turfway Park signal. TVG and TrackNet Media Group, which is the content partnership of CDI and MEC, have been at odds since the joint venture of the racetrack companies was launched in March 2007.

Horsemen groups have withheld consent for signal distribution at several tracks since April. Included in the mix are CDI-owned Churchill Downs and Calder Race Course, and MEC-owned Lone Star Park and Thistledown, among others. The dispute has resulted in lower revenues to tracks and ADWs due to decreased handle, and in most cases, reduced purses to horsemen.

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