09/23/2008 11:00PM

Court rules in Ohio horsemen's favor


A U.S. District Court has ruled that horsemen's rights under the federal Interstate Horseracing Act cannot be superseded by a state regulation as the result of a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association against Ohio regulators and racetracks.

Judge Michael Wilson of the U.S. District Court for Southern Ohio issued the ruling siding with the horsemen on Tuesday. The ruling held that an Ohio law giving the racing commission the power to overrule a horsemen's veto of a simulcasting contract violated the Interstate Horseracing Act, the 1978 federal law that granted horsemen the power to approve the distribution of simulcast signals.

The Ohio HBPA filed the lawsuit in January 2007 after the Ohio State Racing Commission allowed Beulah Park to send its signal to Chester Downs in Pennsylvania over the horsemen's veto, citing the state regulation granting the commission the right to overrule the horsemen if their approval was deemed "unreasonably withheld."

The Ohio HBPA had declined to approve the distribution of Beulah's signal to Chester because of their dissatisfaction over Chester paying a 3 percent fee. The Ohio HBPA asserted that Chester should pay 5 percent for the signal.