The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association on Thursday removed its permission for Calder Casino & Race Course to send its simulcast signal to racetracks and other outlets outside Florida.
Calder responded by reducing its average daily race purses by 20 percent, based on anticipated reductions in betting revenues. Calder started its racing season on April 6 with those purses averaging about $180,000.
The cutoff would not prevent Calder or any other South Florida pari-mutuels from taking simulcast signals and having bets on any thoroughbred races — including Friday’s Kentucky Oaks card and Saturday’s Kentucky Derby card at Churchill Downs.
The trainers and owners group cut off the Calder signal after it did not reach its goal of having a race purses contract with Calder by April 30.
The horsemen’s group did not agree to a contract because of a dispute related to the scheduled July 6 start of head-to-head racing by Calder and Gulfstream Park. Calder’s policy is that if a trainer sends a horse to race at Gulfstream on one of those days, it will not let the horse back into the Calder stables.
Gulfstream officials have said they will allow horses that race at Calder to return to Gulfstream.
Under the federal Interstate Horse Racing Act, any thoroughbred track’s designated horsemen’s group can prevent that track from sending its simulcasts across state lines to racetrack betting services and phone and Internet betting services.
Calder officials were not available for comment on Thursday.
Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida horsemen’s group, said he is hopeful that negotiations will soon resume on the issue of letting horses run at both tracks.
“Horsemen are being treated as pawns in this battle between two giant companies,” he said.