Calder, horsemen come to compromise on purses
Calder Race Course in South Florida on Friday announced a purse increase of 7.5 percent effective immediately thanks to what the release said was a strong start for the meet.
According to the press release, the increase is applied evenly to base overnight purses excluding overnight stakes. Florida Owners Awards also increase from $500 to $1,000. Purses on 2-year-old maiden special weight races increased from $39,000 to $40,000.
“We’re off to a positive start of the Calder meet. The early demand for the Calder product is encouraging,” said John Marshall, Calder vice president and general manager of racing, in a prepared statement.
The statement further said the purse revenues are stabilized by added revenue from slots and poker.
The announcement came after an hours-long meeting between Marshall an the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association on Thursday.
The FHBPA were threatening to withhold the signal of live races from Calder if the horsemen did not get a larger percentage of advanced-deposit wagers made within a 100-mile radius of the track. Those types of wagers are typically made over the internet, via accounts where money is deposited in advance, hence the name. Churchill Downs Inc., which owns Calder, operates its own advanced deposit wagering, or ADW, site.
If the horsemen withhold the signal, the races at Calder could not accept wagers through the ADW sites. More and more wagering is being done via ADW platforms than on track, which horsemen argue is hurting purses and unfairly benefiting the site operators, including Churchill Downs .
The Thursday meeting came after an FHBPA Wednesday deadline on the issue expired.
Churchill’s ADW site is Twinspires.com, the largest ADW company in the country. They recently purchase ADW pioneer Youbet.com.
Calder representatives had offered a 5 percent purse increase if the status quo was kept or threatened a 10 percent cut to purses if the FHBPA witheld the signal.
FHBPA’s argument is that Twinspires.com takes 22 percent of the amount wagered via ADW off the top, with 7 percent divided equally between Calder and the horsemen. Since Calder and Twinspires.com are both Churchill Downs properties, the effective split is 18.5 percent for Churchill, while the horseman get 3.5 percent.
The 2011 Calder Meet began on April 25 and runs through Sept. 30. The Tropical Meet at Calder will be held from Oct. 1 through Dec. 2.