12/07/2007 1:00AM

Horsemen form signal company

EmailA group of eight horsemen's associations have formed a company that will seek to exert more influence in negotiations with racetracks and account-wagering companies over the distribution of simulcast signals, the associations announced this week.

Wilson Shirley, a racing consultant who has been hired to head up the new company, declined on Friday to provide specifics about the plans of the company, called the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Partnership. Shirley said, however, that the company will act as an agent for the state horsemen's associations to protect the interests of owners and trainers during simulcasting negotiations.

"We do have specific plans, but until we act on those, it's not appropriate to talk about them," said Shirley, who is based in Lexington, Ky.

Groups representing horsemen in Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia have joined the partnership. Shirley said the company hoped to recruit horsemen's associations in additional states as well.

Over the past several years, many horsemen's associations have voiced concern over the payments received by trainers for simulcast signals and the distribution of many signals through account-wagering companies. The groups have generally advocated higher simulcasting fees and the unrestricted distribution of signals to all account-wagering companies.

Horsemen have veto power over simulcasting contracts under the federal Interstate Horse Racing Act. Shirley said that none of the horsemen's associations had assigned their rights to the company.

"They are only permitting the company to engage in certain activities as their agent or broker," Shirley said.