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Pimlico blackout lifted temporarily

There will be no blackout of Big Brown.

Tampa Bay Downs, Derby Lane and Tampa Greyhound Track learned Thursday afternoon they would be allowed to offer simulcast wagering on the Preakness Stakes and Black-Eyed Susan cards from Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

The Preakness, featuring undefeated Big Brown, is Saturday, while the Black-Eyed Susan is today. Each card has 13 races with 16 total stakes. Post times are 12:15 p.m. today and 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

"This is great news," Downs track spokeswoman Margo Flynn said. "The Triple Crown races are a major part of our industry and so popular with our fans."

Until Thursday, the Pimlico races had not been available to any parimutuel facility in Florida. Taking advantage of a federal law allowing track horsemen to withhold a signal for interstate betting purposes, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has used that in support of Florida horsemen, who are in a contract dispute with Calder Race Course in Miami over purses and distribution of slots revenue. The signal has been blocked since Pimlico opened on April 17.

Calder is the distributor of thoroughbred simulcasts in Florida (state law requires that a track with live racing act in that capacity).

The Maryland horsemen agreed to lift the blackout temporarily. According to the Daily Racing Form, the agreement was based on Churchill Downs Inc., Calder's parent company, putting all revenue from the two simulcasts in escrow until the dispute at Calder is resolved.

"We don't know anything beyond the next two days (about Pimlico)," Flynn said.

Until the agreement, Internet sites would have been the only way for state patrons to wager on the Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan.

"Everybody in the state wouldn't have had it," Derby Lane chief operations officer David Tiano said. "It was all or nothing. This whole contract negotiation is between the horsemen and the tracks. We're very happy about the latest news."

This will be the first Triple Crown race available to Calder. Kentucky horsemen, locked in a dispute with Churchill Downs Inc. over revenues from advance-deposit wagering (ADW) companies, blocked the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks signals.

Those races were simulcast in the bay area because Tampa Bay Downs, racing live at the time, served as the host track to secondary facilities Derby Lane and Tampa Greyhound Track.

On Wednesday, Churchill Downs announced on its Web site that it had taken legal action in the ADW issue against the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and officers of each organization in the United States District Court of the Western District of Kentucky.

Other thoroughbred tracks have not been available at area simulcast sites, including Delaware Park in Wilmington, Thistledown in North Randall, Ohio, and Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa.

Pimlico blackout lifted temporarily 05/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 1:58pm]
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