05/15/2008 11:00PM

NYRA settles with tracks in eight states


A group representing racetracks in eight states has reached a multiyear deal with the New York Racing Association that will allow the tracks to import the association's races, officials of the two sides said Friday.

The deal was reached on Wednesday, according to Mike Weiss, the general manager of Beulah Park and the president of the Southern Racing Cooperative, a company that negotiates the signal rights on behalf of racetracks in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas. Most sites were able to offer patrons the ability to bet on the signal from NYRA's Belmont Park on Thursday, Weiss said.

The signal from Belmont Park had been blacked out in the states since Belmont opened on April 30. NYRA also operates Aqueduct and Saratoga Race Course.

Weiss declined to provide terms of the deal, but would say that the agreement was a multi-year contract.

"We're happy to be able to offer the Belmont Stakes," the third leg of the Triple Crown that is scheduled for June 7, Weiss said.

Hal Handel, the chief operating officer of NYRA, estimated that the sites in the eight states accounted for "less than 5 percent" of NYRA's out-of-state handle.

"Still, 5 percent is 5 percent, and we're happy to have them back," Handel said. He also declined to provide terms of the deal.

NYRA had been seeking an increase in the rate that simulcast sites pay for its signal. The push for the increase had also resulted in a dispute with a separate cooperative representing tracks in the mid-Atlantic, but that dispute was settled on May 8.