Pari-mutuel split is still unresolved

January 06, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

First it was the jockeys. Then employees. Now horsemen are wrangling over details of a contract with local track management on the best way to slice up their piece of the pari-mutuel pie.

At stake is the continuation of the state's simulcast contracts and the threat that at least one outlet in Atlantic City, N.J., will not take Laurel races today, said Alan Foreman, counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

Last night, for the third time in about six weeks, the Purse and Contract Committee of the MTHA met with Laurel/Pimlico management to hash out how much money should be allocated to stakes races.

By the end of the evening no agreement had been reached and the horsemen still had not voted to approve 1995 simulcast contracts. That approval was due Dec. 31, 1994. Some tracks will continue to take Laurel simulcasts without approval of the horsemen, but some, like the New Jersey outlet, already have requested a written letter of agreement from the horsemen, but might continue simulcasting while negotiations continue.

Specifically, the horsemen want a redistribution of funds that would take purse money away from some of the high-profile races and put it into everyday "bread-and-butter" races.

At the same time, Laurel/Pimlico owner Joe De Francis said that if the horsemen are putting in a request, he would like to ask for something, too: the horsemen to contribute an additional $285,000 to the Preakness purse.

The horsemen already put up $215,000 of the $500,000-added Preakness purse and are balking at the idea of allocating any more, especially since the tracks receive television revenue from the race.

De Francis is balking at the idea of cutting stakes monies, saying it will harm the track's racing product. Last night, he offered a couple of scenarios, which were rejected by the horsemen. He ended the night by saying that the funding for the stakes program will stay at 17 percent, which is legislated by state law, and that an extra 4 percent of purse money currently used to fund overnight stakes will be withdrawn. Instead, the overnight stakes will be replaced by open allowance races.

That idea did not sit well with the horsemen, but the meeting was adjourned.

"Everything is still up in the air," said MTHA president Richard Hoffberger.

Interactive TV delayed

The start of an interactive home wagering experiment in Baltimore County that was supposed to begin Jan. 15 has been delayed until March 1.

On Demand Services, the company engineering the mechanics of the experiment, still is working out technicalities involved in the project and has postponed the start of the experiment.

Laurel/Pimlico is still in the process of selecting 25 test homes that will participate in the home wagering project.

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