After months of discussions and negotiation, the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association and Gulfstream Park have reached an agreement on a comprehensive purse contract for 2017. Leading the Contract Committee was FHBPA Owner-Director Stephen Screnci, a Boca Raton attorney.
As typical in the negotiation process, weighty and innovative issues were covered. “Overall the negotiations for the contract went smoothly. I was very pleased with how well it went considering the importance of the issues, and significant dollar amounts that were agreed upon,” pointed out FHBPA President Bill White.
A key term of the agreement calls for the elimination of a lingering overpayment in the Non-Championship Meet purse account. That overpayment will be reduced to zero at the end of 2016 and includes a cap on any future overpayments.
“The horsemen will be able to start the 2017 Non-Championship Meet with a balanced purse account, which should result in more predictable race cards and purses. This will better reflect the current handle at the track which has been setting records for the last couple of years,” said Glen Berman, who took over as Executive Director of the FHBPA earlier this year. “The constant overpayment status of the purse account has left current horsemen paying the bills of past years’ meets,” he explained.
A key component of the contract was the agreement to create the FHBPA Stakes Series, a series of $100,000 stakes races to be run during the 2017 Non-Championship Meet.
This innovative approach by the FHBPA and Gulfstream Park will reward South Florida owners and trainers who run year-round with more opportunities to race their top horses.
One noteworthy benefit to the horsemen is the fact that all three stables, Gulfstream, Gulfstream West and Palm Meadows stables will remain open for the entire year. “This will provide great peace-of-mind and much-needed flexibility for the smaller stables. It adds a layer of certainty, as before there was no contractual agreement for all three stabling areas to remain open year-round,” added White.
In the coming days, the FHBPA will provide more details of the contract as conditions precedent are resolved.
“It’s a great contract for everyone – the horsemen, the track, and for Florida racing,” White emphasized. “We’re very excited.”