12/31/2002 1:00AM

Philly horsemen sign contract


Pennsylvania horsemen and Philadelphia Park agreed to a one-year contract on Monday, avoiding the possibility of a shutdown of live racing and simulcasting on New Year's Day.

Under the new contract, horsemen will continue to receive 31 percent of all wagering revenues, as stipulated in the five-year contract that expired Tuesday.

Greenwood Racing, the owner of Philadelphia Park, had been seeking another five-year contract, but horsemen were reluctant to commit themselves for more than 12 months because of the possible introduction of slots legislation later this year.

"In terms of angst and aggravation it's a nice prospect not to have to [negotiate a contract] every year, but with the vagrancies on the gaming issues coming up, the horsemen felt it was very important for a one-year term," said Hal Handel, chief executive officer at Greenwood Racing. "There's an old lawyer's saying, 'When you have a good contract, no one is entirely happy with it.' "

Had there been a shutdown of live racing at Philadelphia Park, under Pennsylvania law, wagering at Greenwood's OTB's and simulcast wagering at the track would have been halted.