Horses

Ellis first to give horsemen bigger cut

The agreement between Ellis Park and Kentucky horsemen that will get racing back on track Friday is the first time that trainers and owners have gotten what they have been asking for: a bigger share of the money from advance-deposit wagering.

Horsemen in several states have been bargaining with tracks to increase the percentage that goes into purses from ADW and other off-track sources. The dispute has resulted in blocked simulcasting, purse cuts and lawsuits.

Last week Ellis Park owner Ron Geary abruptly announced he was closing the Thoroughbred track instead of opening for a 44-day meet as scheduled on Friday.

A deal, announced Saturday, will make the ADW percentage similar to that from on-track betting. Racing will begin on Friday, with fields of up to a dozen horses.

According to Geary, he is giving up his share of the ADW takeout but hopes to make it up in increased overall betting.

Geary will pay the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association 6 percent of all ADW, which will be about one third of all the money not paid back to ADW bettors.

Advance-deposit wagering, including Internet betting, is a relatively small but growing part of the $14 billion simulcasting market.

The Ellis Park signal will be carried on all ADW platforms, including TVG and HRTV.

Separately, horsemen have reached partial resolution in Florida. Churchill Downs-owned Calder Race Course has been blocked from simulcasting its signal for two-and-a-half months because the track and horsemen couldn't reach an agreement on how to split revenue from ADWs and future slot machines.

On Monday, Churchill announced it had reached agreements on purses and slots that will guarantee $14.375 million for purses for the first three years, with 6.75 percent of slots for the next seven years.

Churchill has agreed to drop the Florida horsemen from its anti-trust suit filed in Louisville. The suit will continue against Kentucky horsemen or the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association bargaining group.

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