01/06/2004 12:00AM

Signal fight partly resolved


Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park in Florida have reached an agreement to swap their racing signals, but the two tracks remain far apart on an agreement to allow Tampa to take bets on other simulcast signals, Tampa's general manager said Tuesday.

The general manager, Peter Berube, said the agreement will allow Tampa to take the Gulfstream signal throughout Gulfstream's 2004 meet, which ends on April 25. Tampa had been blocked from taking the signal since Gulfstream started racing on Jan. 3. The agreement will also allow Gulfstream to offer the Tampa signal to its fans.

Berube said, however, that Tampa and Gulfstream have yet to reach an agreement on whether Tampa can offer the signals from Golden Gate Fields, Santa Anita, and the New York Racing Association. Golden Gate and Santa Anita are owned by Gulfstream's parent company, Magna Entertainment Corp., and NYRA has an agreement with Gulfstream to distribute its signal in the state of Florida.

Negotiations to resolve the remaining issues have broken off, Berube said, adding that Tampa was willing to pay the rate it paid last year for the signals.

Gulfstream's general manager, Scott Savin, did not return a phone call on Tuesday, a dark day at Gulfstream.

The simulcast blackouts have not only affected fans at Tampa Bay Downs, but also at three greyhound tracks in the Tampa vicinity: Tampa Bay Greyhound, Derby Lane, and Sarasota. None has offered races from any Magna-owned tracks since Santa Anita and Golden Gate opened on Dec. 26.

Magna, the largest racing company in the United States, has taken a hard line with its simulcast signal over the past few months, shutting off several account-wagering sites from its tracks, implementing a subscription fee for its live video on its websites, and playing hardball in negotiations with tracks and offtrack betting sites. Racing officials have said that Magna is concerned that it is not receiving enough revenue for its tracks' signals, especially from offshore betting sites.