04/16/2008 12:00AM

Calder purse talks said to make progress


Representatives of Calder Race Course and its horsemen said Wednesday that they had made progress on a purse contract for the 2008 meeting, which begins on Monday.

The Florida division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said it would not sign a contract until agreement is reached on revenue splits from advance-deposit wagering handle and on future slot money generated at Calder, which is owned by Churchill Downs Inc. The track was given the right to operate slot machines when local voters approved them earlier this winter.

Without a purse contract, horsemen can prevent Calder from sending its signal outside of Florida.

Phil Combest, vice president of the horsemen's group, said Wednesday that progress has been made after negotiations seemed to stalemate over the past several weeks.

"Hopefully this whole situation will be resolved by opening day," said Combest.

Ken Dunn, the former president of Calder and now an adviser for Churchill, met with horsemen Wednesday.

"I think we've progressed well over the last 24 hours," he said.