The horses raced without interruption Wednesday at The Isle Casino & Racing at Pompano Park as uneasy horse owners and track officials remain locked in tense contract negotiations.
The three-year agreement dictating how much the track pays the horsemen ended Tuesday, as a potentially nasty legal battle brews between Pompano Park and the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association. The association is suing the harness track, accusing Pompano Park officials of refusing to give the horsemen a fair cut of the money generated by the new casino’s Las Vegas-style slot machines.
The association — which represents about 600 owners, breeders, trainers and drivers — wants the state to ban the track from operating its slot machines until a revenue-sharing agreement is reached.
Pompano Park officials announced Wednesday that they would increase the money paid out to the horsemen as of tonight’s races.
“We are pleased to say that on average our purses will increase approximately 45 percent and in some of our more popular race classes, the purse will rise more than 50 percent,” said Doug Shipley, Pompano Park’s general manager.
The attorney for the horsemen’s association questioned Thursday whether the increase in purses is temporary until “the heat is off.”
“Even with this supposed 45-50 percent increase, Pompano Park pales in comparison to what other parks are paying out in other jurisdictions,” said attorney Jeffrey Schneider. “This is even inconsistent with their earlier statements [to the news media] where they said the purses would more than double.”
Horse owner Dave Schneider said he’s considering moving his 15 horses at the track out of state.
“What’s making morale low right now is people don’t know what the future is going to bring,” said Schneider, no relation to the attorney. “You are afraid to leave if it gets good, but afraid to stay if it gets bad.”
Schneider’s threat is pretty empty. Horse racing in this country is in serious decline, click here and here for examples. Moving to another state is not going to improve anything for this horse owner.
Yes the horseman should get a proper share from Pompano Park’s new revenue source, but at the same time the racing industry should be grateful. Without the casino, Pompano Park may have died like so many other racetracks.
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