Updated on 09/17/2011 10:22AM

Deal made over signal to tracks


Churchill Downs Inc. and tracks in the mid-Atlantic reached a simulcasting agreement on Saturday morning, bringing an end to a four-day blackout of Churchill's tracks in six states in the region, officials of the tracks involved announced Saturday.

Details of the one-year agreement were not released. The mid-Atlantic tracks' three-year simulcasting agreement with Churchill Downs had expired at the beginning of this year.

The agreement had threatened to cost Churchill significant amounts of simulcasting business and had deprived mid-Atlantic horseplayers of the signals from Hollywood Park and Calder Race Course, two Churchill-owned tracks, for several days. The agreement was reached just hours before Churchill Downs was scheduled to start its spring meet.

A fourth Churchill track, Arlington Park, is scheduled to begin its lengthy spring-summer meet on May 9. Additionally, Churchill's most prestigious race, the Kentucky Derby, is scheduled for Saturday.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement that allows us to achieve our short-term objectives and look forward to a long-term partnership with the mid-Atlantic member tracks. . . ." said Karl Schmitt, Churchill's chief of simulcasting, in a statement.

The mid-Atlantic cooperative - which includes tracks in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland - was formed three years ago to negotiate simulcast contracts jointly. It was formed in part to offset the negotiating power derived from Churchill's rapid expansion.

The cooperative had flexed its muscles two years ago when it refused to take the simulcast signal from Keeneland Racecourse after Keeneland reduced its takeout. The reduction threatened to squeeze the mid-Atlantic tracks' profit margins One week into Keeneland's three-week meet, the parties agreed on a contract.

The cooperative includes 17 Thoroughbred and Standardbred tracks and their offtrack wagering facilities, including Atlantic City Racecourse, Charles Town Races, Colonial Downs, Delaware Park, Dover Downs, Freehold Raceway, Harrington Raceway, Laurel Park, Pimlico, The Meadowlands, Monmouth, Ocean Downs, Penn National, Philadelphia Park, Pocono Downs, Rosecroft Raceway and The Meadows.