JC / Railbird

New Proposal, Laurel Cut

The New England HBPA’s response to Suffolk Downs’ proposed terms for the 2011 meet was presented to the track this morning and posted to the group’s website this afternoon. You can read the whole thing — it’s a two-page letter (PDF) — the gist of which is that the horsemen will race for the number of days required by state law for an equal split of the simulcasting revenue, “without the guarantee made in previous agreements as to the total amount of purses to be paid during the course of the meet.” No purse guarantees is the concession* — the rest of the proposal is what both sides stumbled over earlier in negotiations, leading to the breakdown in talks. Suffolk confirmed that it received the new proposal, but declined commenting until management reviewed it. My sense is that a breakthrough isn’t in the offing.

Suffolk’s simulcasting menu shrinks again on Friday. The Laurel Park signal will be blocked beginning tomorrow. The action, being taken by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association in solidarity with the NEHBPA (joining the Florida, Ohio, and Oregon horsemens’ groups), brings the number of blocked tracks to six and could be taken as another sign that the impasse isn’t about to end soon. Here’s one Massachusetts bettor mad about the mess.

10:35 PM Addendum: Funny, I didn’t expect confirmation that the situation wasn’t on an upswing to come so swiftly. “[T]he racetrack threatened legal action against the horsemen and demanded they remove their office trailers from the grounds,” reports Lynne Snierson. At issue, apparently, is the NEHBPA’s fact-sheet posted yesterday (and which I delved into a bit below).

*2/11/10 Addendum: Additional info on what the NEHBPA projects for purses:

The proposal requires racing for the minimum number of days required by statute which is presently 100 days of racing. Daily purse distribution would be determined based upon available revenue. Assuming revenue consistent with 2010, the NEHBPA projects a daily purse distribution of about $95,000 per day would result from implementation of its proposal, with the prospect that the daily purse distribution could increase to $100,000 per day based on increases in simulcasting revenue consistent with increases experienced for the month of January 2011.

Assuming that 2011 revenues will remain consistent with 2010 seems risky, considering the downward trend in handle across the industry, as well as at Suffolk Downs, which is down more than a third since 2007.


[…] Following up on a question about the proposal made by the New England horsemen to Suffolk Downs on Wednesday and the potential risk of racing this year without purse guarantees, NEHBPA lawyer Frank Frisoli replied: The proposal just advanced by the NEHBPA offers to fund purses for 2011 based upon the share of revenue generated for purses in accordance with the offer.  In this manner any reduction in revenue because of this dispute would be shared by both Suffolk and the NEHBPA…. It certainly appears the economy is recovering so that we can reasonably anticipate business to be at least as good as the prior year.  In any event if the revenue is shared as we propose (and as virtually every other venue shares it), and the risk of decreased revenue is likewise shared equitably. […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird v2 - Sharing the Risk on February 12, 2011 @ 7:27 am

[…] issues in the dispute with the horsemen over the 2011 meet. The letter is not a formal response to the proposal submitted by the NEHBPA to the track last week, which management is still […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird v2 - Suffolk Responds on February 15, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

[…] In my exchanges with NEHBPA lawyer Frank Frisoli, he’s expressed optimism that the recovering economy will keep 2011 numbers consistent with 2010, and has been insistent on the horsemen’s demand for an equal simulcasting split, which would fund purses as the level horsemen seek in the proposal the group submitted to Suffolk last week. […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird v2 - 100 Days or No Days on February 16, 2011 @ 12:13 pm

[…] total of the new offer from Suffolk is in line with the offer made by the New England to the track on February 10, which proposed purses based on available revenue and 100 days. A source confirms the track is […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird v2 - No Consensus (Yet) on February 21, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

[…] $100,000, based on an equal split of available revenue, assuming revenue remained level with 2010. That seemed a risky assumption, considering the downward trend in Suffolk’s handle, and it was on that basis that track […]

Posted by Jessica Chapel / Railbird - What’s Next? on February 25, 2011 @ 10:59 am