05/07/2008 12:00AM

Churchill plans more cuts


Churchill Downs Inc. plans to cut purses at its Louisville racetrack and again at Calder Race Course in Florida because of a lingering dispute with horsemen that has limited the availability of the two tracks' signals in the simulcast market, the company's chief executive, Bob Evans, said on a conference call with analysts on Wednesday morning.

"We anticipate having to reduce purses at Churchill next week," Evans said, without citing an estimate. "We also plan to reduce purses at Calder again."

Churchill cut the purses at Calder by 30 percent across the board approximately one week into the track's current meet, which started on April 21. A group representing horsemen at Calder has refused to give the track authorization to send simulcast signals to any out-of-state sites other than New York's offtrack betting corporations because of a stalemate over a purse contract.

Churchill's signal has been unavailable on any national account-wagering platforms since the meet began on April 26 because of a dispute over the amount of money returned to horsemen from in-home wagers. Horsemen have the right to approve the export of a track's simulcast signal through a federal law.

A group representing horsemen over account-wagering rights has recently begun demanding that horsemen receive one-third of all revenue from in-home bets. Evans indicated on the conference call that Churchill did not anticipate meeting the horsemen's demands.

On a day when markets were broadly down, Churchill's stock dropped 4.9 percent on Wednesday, from $45.76 at the start of the day to $43.50 at the close of trading.

* Racing World, the satellite channel owned in part by Churchill Downs Inc. that broadcast North American horse races into homes in the United Kingdom, has been discontinued, Churchill confirmed Wednesday.