01/29/2003 1:00AM

Rockingham deal reached


SALEM, N.H. - Rockingham Park, Suffolk Downs, and the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have reached an agreement over simulcast fees, ending a horsemen's boycott and allowing a number of out-of-town Thoroughbred signals to return to Rockingham.

Suffolk officials declined to offer specifics on the deal, but said the arrangement will be worth in excess of $1 million this year to its Thoroughbred operation, with a specific portion earmarked for purses.

According to published reports, officials from Rockingham, which will drop Thoroughbred racing and run only a harness meet this year, agreed to a five-year deal under which it will pay Suffolk a $500,000 annual fee to receive its signal. In addition, Rockingham will pay Suffolk 5 percent of any handle on flat-race bets taken via Rockingham's account wagering system.

The deal came after two days of testimony in a New Hampshire federal court that was hearing a lawsuit filed by Rockingham against Suffolk and horsemen's groups involved in the boycott.

Some simulcasts at Rockingham, including that of Suffolk, resumed on Wednesday, with a full schedule expected by this weekend. Among the tracks whose horsemen sided with Suffolk and refused to allow their simulcast signals to be sent to Rockingham are Gulfstream, Fair Grounds, Turfway, Sam Houston, and Beulah Park.