01/06/2004 12:00AM

Contract talks resume in W.Va.


Officials of Mountaineer Race Track and representatives of the track's horsemen met on Tuesday afternoon to attempt to resolve an impasse that has shuttered racing and simulcasting at the West Virginia track and casino since the start of the year.

The negotiations were still ongoing as of late Tuesday afternoon, according to representatives of the horsemen and the track. Mountaineer is not scheduled to hold another live racing day until Jan. 19.

Mountaineer's contract with its horsemen expired on Dec. 31. The inability of the two sides to reach a new agreement cost the track four consecutive live race cards, from Jan. 3-6.

Horsemen are asking the track to run 232 live racing days in 2004, but the track applied to state regulators for only 210 live racing days. Mountaineer is required by law to run 220 live racing days from July 1 to June 30 in order to operate slot machines.

Mountaineer has closed its training track and has asked trainers to pay $8 a day per stall to remain at the track during the impasse. Any horsemen at the track who did not agree to the fees were served eviction notices Monday night. A release from Mountaineer said that 80 percent of the horsemen had agreed to the fees as of late Monday.