02/20/2015 1:40PM

Mid-Atlantic tracks hit obstacle after deal nearly done


A cooperative of racetracks and the company controlling the simulcast signals to Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park have agreed to the main pricing aspects of a new simulcast contract, but approval of the pact is being held up by a related issue affecting one of the cooperative’s members, Rosecroft Raceway, according to officials for both sides.

The Mid-Atlantic Cooperative, which represents 23 racetracks and simulcast sites in a smattering of states, and Monarch Content Management, a company owned by the Stronach Group, have been locked in a stalemate over a new simulcasting contract since late last October. According to the officials, the talks produced an agreement over new simulcast rates two weeks ago, but since then, the issue with Rosecroft has forced the two sides to dig in their heels once again.

“We got to economic terms that seemed acceptable a couple of weeks ago, but we’ve reached an issue that is beyond our authority to resolve,” said Phil O’Hara, the executive director of the cooperative, on Friday afternoon.

According to Scott Daruty, the president of Monarch, the situation has arisen because Rosecroft, a harness track, is in pending arbitration with the Stronach Group’s Maryland Jockey Club, the owner and operator of Laurel Park and Pimlico, over the distribution of simulcast revenues to harness and Thoroughbred interests in the state.

Monarch has argued that the arbitration would trigger a clause in the contract allowing the group to negotiate new terms with Rosecroft, depending on how the arbitration is resolved, Daruty said. As a result, Monarch has told the Mid-Atlantic cooperative that it would sign a deal if Rosecroft were excluded, but the Mid-Atlantic has countered that the agreement must include all of its members or none.

Since the dispute arose last year, the members of the cooperative have not offered any simulcast signals from the Stronach Group tracks and several other racetracks, including Tampa Bay Downs. Cooperative members include sites in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, and several other states.