07/30/2008 12:00AM

Horsemen seek dismissal of Churchill suit


A consortium of groups representing horsemen have asked a Kentucky judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Churchill Downs Inc. on the grounds that the horsemen have an ironclad right to block the export of racetrack signals to out-of-state locations.

The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, and the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Group - a company that represents horsemen in simulcast negotiations - filed the motion to dismiss on Monday in the United States District Court in the Western District of Kentucky. The motion was filed in response to a lawsuit against the groups in which Churchill Downs Inc. has alleged that the groups are in violation of the Sherman Act, an antitrust law.

Earlier this year, the Kentucky horsemen's association balked at giving Churchill Downs approval to send its signal to account-wagering sites unless the track reached agreements with account-wagering companies giving horsemen one-third of the revenue from betting through the operations. Churchill filed its lawsuit in response to the horsemen's position.

The federal Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 explicitly gives horsemen the right to approve the export of signals to out-of-state locations. The motion to dismiss asserts that the act protects the horsemen from legal action.

The Interstate Horseracing Act "is very clear," the motion states. "The horsemen have an absolute veto right to withhold their consent, and that mean there can be no interstate wagering on the affected races."

Kevin Flanery, a spokesman for Churchill Downs, declined to comment on the motion on Wednesday, citing the company's policy not to discuss litigation.