In a letter of August 18 authored by AzHBPA President Bob Hutton, he calls attention to an updated version of Turf Paradise’s stall application. Specifically Mr. Hutton refers to paragraph 1 of the application where it reads that, “Turf Paradise reserves the right to end the meet at any time.”
Why was that line added to the original application? What happened that would have caused this line to be added?
The reason the line was added is because of the threat by the AZHBPA to end Turf’s ability to simulcast races from other race tracks on September 23. The line was added to protect the track from a very real threat that would have brought an end to racing.
Why is simulcasting so important? Simulcasting comprises more than 99% percent of Turf’s total handle. Sixty-three percent of our total handle are wagers placed from out-of-state residents on Turf’s live races being simulcast out-of-state. And 36% is made up of Arizona residents wagering on simulcast races being imported into our OTBs and on track. In short, without simulcasting Turf would not be able to generate purses for the horsemen. Without simulcasting the live meet would collapse. That’s why that line was added to the Stall Application.
Why is it that Turf can be accused of threatening to end a live race meet, when the AZHBPA’s real threat of terminating Turf’s ability to simulcast races is not also seen for what it is? An attempt to close Turf Paradise for good.
Curious that Mr. Hutton’s letter brings up paragraph 7 of the stall application. This section refers to horsemen having only 5 days to leave the grounds should they be required to do so. In an email from the AzHBPA’s Executive Director, Leroy Gessmann, to Vincent Francia, Mr. Gessmann requests that that very language be added to Turf’s stall application. It was inserted at Mr. Gessmann’s request.
Mr. Hutton’s letter continues to take issue with Paragraph 11 of the stall application. The verbiage he refers to is taken verbatim from Canterbury Park’s stall application. As we know, many Turf trainers race at Canterbury and have signed their stall application, with that language. It’s not a problem for Turf’s trainers to agree to and sign a stall application with this language in Minnesota but it’s somehow a violation of those same trainers’ rights here in Arizona?
As long as I own Turf Paradise I am committed to offering a live race meet, and to run it from begin date to end date. I am committed to running the upcoming live meet, from November 5 through May 7, 2022. Improvements have been under way for some time in preparation for this meet.
So what is the next step? The next step is for Mr. Hutton to join ADOG Director of Racing Rudy Casillas and me to work out a contract. However, Turf plans to run its live race meet with or without a contract. It goes without saying that, a contract serves both the horsemen and Turf. So, contact Mr. Hutton via phone, email, text or in person and encourage him to sit down and work out an agreement.
That is what I’m committed to.