06/02/2011 5:57PM

Calder: Horsemen meet with management


MIAMI - Representatives of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association met with the vice president and general manager of racing at Calder Race Course, John Marshall, for several hours on Thursday afternoon trying to resolve their differences regarding several issues, most notably revenues from money bet via advance deposit wagering accounts on live racing at Calder.

The Florida horsemen are seeking to expand the area from which they receive money for purses from advance deposit wagering from the current 25 mile radius to within 100 miles of the track. Calder's management has adamantly opposed the change.

The horsemen have threatened on several occasions to rescind permission, as is their right, for Calder to accept any account wagering on its product if their demands were not met. The latest deadline they gave the track to agree to expand the radius expired at midnight on Wednesday.

"Our representatives met with John today, and we're hopeful some kind of compromise agreement can be ironed out prior to racing resuming here on Friday," said Phil Combest, vice president of the horsemen's association.

Marshall said earlier Thursday that Calder would immediately increase purses 5 per cent if the horsemen agreed to keep the status quo regarding the account-wagering radius and not rescind permission for account wagering. He said the alternative would be to slash purses approximately 10 per cent if the horsemen pulled the plug on the account wagers.

"If the horsemen pull their online consent we'll have to drop purses to make up for the lost revenue stream," said Marshall.

Calder is owned by Churchill Downs Inc. which owns Twinspires.com, the largest account-wagering company in the country. Churchill Downs recently bought the account-wagering company YouBet, which is now part of Twinspires.com.

On an account wager placed in Florida or in another state on a Calder race, the takeout is 22 percent. A "host" fee of 7 per cent is split between Calder and the horsemen. But, the horsemen contend, that Churchill management is actually receiving 18.5 percent on each dollar wagered while the horsemen get only 3.5 per cent for purses.

"We don't think this is fair," the horsemen's association contended in a release handed out to its members before a general meeting at the track on Thursday. "All we're asking for is our fair share from Twinspires and YouBet and Churchill."