02/08/2011 3:51PM

Florida horsemen block export of their signals to Suffolk


Groups representing horsemen at Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida have pulled their approval for the export of their signals to Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts because of a dispute between Suffolk and its own horsemen, according to Suffolk officials.

The decision by the two horsemen’s groups expands the number of racing signals that are being denied to Suffolk Downs to five, joining Aqueduct, Portland Meadows, and Beulah Park. While horsemen’s groups in Ohio and Oregon were responsible for pulling approval for Beulah and Portland Meadows, Suffolk’s horsemen have exercised a veto power available to them to block the import of Aqueduct as the dispute drags on.

Despite the blackouts, horseplayers in Massachusetts are able to bet on the signals at nearby harness and greyhound tracks, which have not been denied the simulcasts.

Suffolk and its horsemen are currently locked in a dispute over Suffolk’s plans for live race dates this year. The track wants to cut the number of dates to 76 with total purse distribution of $7.5 million, while horsemen are pressing for the statutory minimum of 100 dates and total purse distribution of $10.6 million.

Suffolk held 100 days of live racing last year, with a meet running from mid-May until October.

Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk, said that negotiations over the length of the meet remained at a standstill on Tuesday.

“We’re still waiting on a counterproposal to the proposal we offered on Jan. 26,” Tuttle said.