06/03/2011 2:12PM

Calder: Purse increase of 7.5 percent key to horsemen accepting compromise


MIAMI – Purses were raised 7.5 per cent effective with Friday’s first race at Calder as part of a compromise reached earlier in the day between track management and representatives of the Florida Division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

The purse increase will be applied evenly to the base overnight purses, excluding overnight stakes and 2-year-old maiden special weight races, which will be increased only $1,000 from $39,000 to $40,000. Under the agreement, the minimum Florida Owners Awards will also increase from $500 to $1,000.

In return for the purse increase, the FHBPA agreed not to rescind its permission for Calder to accept advance deposit wagers on its races or pursue its demand to expand the radius for which it is paid a commission on all ADW wagers at Calder from 25 to 100 miles. Calder officials had originally offered a 5 percent purse increase prior to Friday’s agreement.

“We’re off to a positive start of the meet and the early demand for the Calder product is encouraging,” said John Marshall, Calder’s vice president and general manager of racing. “For now, our purse revenues are stabilized by added revenue from slots and poker.’’

Local horsemen had threatened for the past several weeks to rescind permission, as is their right, for advance deposit wagering to be taken on Calder races if the track and its owners, Churchill Downs Inc., did not agree to expand the radius within which horsemen receive a share of those wagers towards purses.

“We’re obviously still not happy about the ADW situation,” said Kent Stirling, executive director of the FHBPA. “It doesn’t really seem fair to us that Churchill Downs, because it owns Twin Spires, actually receives an 18.5 per cent share of all ADW wagers on Calder within the 25- mile market area and we receive just 3.5 per cent. But the horsemen here fought a tough battle over purses in 2008 and we thought they just don’t have the fortitude to go through another battle like that. They [Calder management] offered us a 5 percent purse increase and we negotiated that up to 7.5 per cent and we thought that was fair for the time being.”