11/08/2005 12:00AM

Calder, Gulf near simulcast deal

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MIAMI - Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course are in negotiations that could pave the way to allowing each track to offer simulcast wagering when not operating a live race meet, top officials from both tracks confirmed Tuesday.

Gulfstream Park's president, Scott Savin, and his Calder counterpart, Ken Dunn, both said an agreement could be signed before Thanksgiving. Similar negotiations have been ongoing for many years, the two track executives said, but now the deal is closer to becoming reality than ever before.

"It's not a done deal yet, but we have the support of the horsemen, and I am very encouraged by the way the negotiations have transpired," said Dunn. "In principal, we at Calder have changed our thinking regarding this issue and believe because of the changes in south Florida horse racing that it's time to experiment and see if collectively we and Gulfstream Park can find additional ways to increase the local marketplace."

Both Dunn and Savin agreed that working toward reaching a simulcast agreement is an indication of a newfound harmony not only between south Florida's two Thoroughbred tracks but also their parent companies, Churchill Downs Inc., which operates Calder, and Magna Entertainment, which owns Gulfstream Park.

According to Dunn, Gulfstream Park cleared one of the major obstacles to reaching a simulcast agreement this summer by winning a decision against the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering in circuit court. The decision overturned the division's interpretation of state law, which the wagering division believed prohibited intrastate wagering within the local marketplace.

Dunn said that under the court's latest interpretation of Florida's Interstate Horse Racing Act, any racetrack that runs live racing dates has the right to bring in any other signal from any local parimutuel facility as long as it is granted written permission from that track. That signal would include not only the live racing product but all other simulcasting signals being offered at the live site.

Savin said if a simulcast agreement is signed it would go into effect beginning with the opening of the 2006 Gulfstream Park meeting on Jan. 4.