09/17/2008 11:00PM

Hollywood revenue up in air


POMONA, Calif. - Hollywood Park and the Thoroughbred Owners of California have yet to reach an agreement with horsemen for the track's fall meeting, with a dispute centering on the distribution of revenue from account wagering sources, according to discussions at Thursday's California Horse Racing Board meeting.

Racing board officials said on Thursday that it will conduct a special hearing in coming weeks in an attempt to remedy the dispute. The Hollywood Park fall meeting is scheduled for Oct. 29 through Dec. 21.

Hollywood Park's president, Jack Liebau, said his track wants a distribution of revenue that existed in previous agreements. The terms of those agreements have not been made public.

Liebau said he agreed to meet with the racing board in coming weeks.

"I will not go down to the last minute," he said. "There are a lot of different positions with the issues involved."

The president of the owners' group, Drew Couto, told the racing board that the issue has become such a great concern that he fears that Hollywood Park will not run its fall meeting without an agreement. Couto asked the racing board for an emergency provision to extend the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 24 through Oct. 26. The board did not discuss that request on Thursday.

"The question is the rate," Couto said of the ongoing dispute. "Right now, California tracks and horsemen have asked to share one-third or one-quarter of revenue."

Account wagering providers, said Couto, "are taking more than half of the revenue. We want a more equitable distribution of revenue."

When asked if it was possible that Hollywood Park would not run a meeting this fall, Liebau said, "I'm not in a position to respond to that question."

The racing board issued a conditional approval of Hollywood Park's license for a fall meeting, contingent on the completion of the horsemen's agreement.