01/12/2004 12:00AM

Mountaineer dispute ends

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Representatives of Mountaineer Park and its horsemen reached an agreement on Saturday on a three-year purse contract, ending a dispute that cost the track four days of live racing.

The new agreement calls for 228 days of live racing in 2004, according to the track and horsemen. Horsemen were seeking 232 live racing dates, and the track was attempting to run 210 live racing days.

The previous purse agreement expired on Dec. 31. Without a new contract in place, racing was canceled from Jan. 3-6, and Mountaineer also was prohibited from offering simulcast signals to its customers.

Mountaineer had started collecting stall-rental fees from horsemen as of Jan. 5, citing liability issues in the absence of an agreement, but track officials said that all checks received from horsemen would be returned.

In addition to its racing product, Mountaineer operates a slot-machine parlor. Revenue from the slot machines has contributed to huge purse increases at the track, and a nighttime schedule that takes advantage of many other tracks' dark days has resulted in equally sizable increases in handle on Mountaineer's simulcast signal.

Mountaineer began offering out-of-state simulcasts on Sunday, and its next live racing day is scheduled for Jan. 19.