01/17/2007 12:00AM

Gulfstream signal back at New York OTB's


The signal from Gulfstream Park in Florida was restored on Wednesday afternoon to the branches of all six New York State offtrack betting companies after officials of the OTB's and Florida horsemen reached an agreement on a simulcasting contract, according to officials for the both sides.

Representatives of the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation, which negotiated the Gulfstream contract on behalf of New York's OTB companies, would not comment about specifics in the agreement other than to say that the deal would be in place for this year's Gulfstream meet only.

The Florida horsemen's association rescinded its approval allowing the New York OTB's to offer wagering on the Gulfstream signal before the track's meet began on Jan. 3, asserting that the rate paid by the OTB's in its current four-year contract - 2.55 percent of handle - was too low. The horsemen were asking for 2.85 percent.

Ira Block, the general counsel for New York City OTB, would not comment specifically on whether the OTB's compromised on a new rate, but did say, "The contract that is in place now is the same contract that was in place at the beginning of the meet.

"The only difference is when it expires," Block said.

Representatives of the Florida horsemen, New York City OTB, and Gulfstream's parent company, Magna Entertainment, reached agreement on the new contract on Tuesday night, the officials said. Tuesday was a dark day for Gulfstream Park.

With the agreement expiring at the end of the Gulfstream meet on April 22, it appears likely that the OTB's and horsemen will clash again on the simulcasting rate before the 2008 meet at the track. Florida horsemen have said that the rate paid by New York's OTB's is the lowest for any Gulfstream simulcasting partner, but the OTB's have in the past justified that rate by the high volume of handle at the shops on popular signals.

Sam Gordon, the president of the Florida horsemen's association, would not comment on the rate under the new agreement, but said that horsemen will be looking for a higher rate on Gulfstream next year, and not just from OTB companies.

"The whole pricing model is going to be looked at, for everybody," Gordon said.