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List of places boycotting TB Downs is diminishing

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 20, 2001

Surfway Park was scheduled to begin sending its simulcast signal to Tampa Bay Downs on Wednesday night, removing another from the list of facilities boycotting the track in a minor, but persistent, labor dispute.

Local Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective associations can bar their tracks from sending their simulcast signal to out-of-state venues as a weapon in labor squabbles, and such groups at Turfway Park, Charles Town (W. Va.), Sam Houston, Delta Downs and the Fair Grounds had boycotted Tampa Bay Downs in support of Bob Jeffries. The Tampa Bay HBPA president was denied stall space at Tampa Bay Downs for a second straight year, in retaliation, he believes, for his involvement in past contract negotiations.

Downs general manager Peter Berube said he was assured by Turfway management its boycott was done. Berube added that in conversations with Charles Town officials, "getting the truth out there," that Tampa Bay Downs and the TBHBPA had a signed contract, should help re-establish that signal.

"I think there could have been some misinformation out there," Berube said. "The Charles Town people were going to go talk to their horsemen."

Berube threatened legal action early this week if the signals, which were interrupted on Saturday's opening day, were not resumed. But Wednesday he said he was "holding off at this point."

Either way, Berube said, the boycott is not hurting the track much because it presents more than 20 simulcasts. He didn't provide exact figures, but called the revenue loss "nominal."

NAME-DROPPING: Seems it never is too early to start thinking about the Kentucky Derby. To that end, here are a few 2-year-olds to keep an eye on:

Officer, of course. Bob Baffert's latest world-beater has five wins in eight starts, but was beaten in his last, in Saturday's Hollywood Futurity by

Siphonic. The horse won the Grade I Futurity by 31/2 lengths over Fonz's in 1 minute, 42 seconds over 1 1/16 miles.

Easyfromthegitgo. Tested in one allowance so far, but has Dehere and Easy Goer in the bloodlines.

PURCHASE: Thoroughbred-owner Eugene Melnyk reportedly will purchase Harry T. Mangurian's Mockingbird Farm in Ocala by January, and use it as a breaking and training facility.

The 1,100-acre property will be overseen by new trainer/general manager Phil Hronec, farm manager for John Franks' Franks Farm Southland Division in Ocala.

The Mockingbird property includes parts of the famed Tartan Farm. One is the cemetery, where Dr. Fager, Ta Wee and other famous Florida champions are buried.

HELP: New York Horse Rescue is attempting to convince tracks and owners to keep retired thoroughbreds out of the slaughterhouses.

At www.nyhr.org, the group showcases adoptable horses and issues, such as the use of urine from pregnant mares to make Premarin, an estrogen replacement. Mares are bred and confined to their stalls so their urine can be harvested. The foals often are auctioned and slaughtered.

VOTE: Cast your vote for the Feb. 18 Eclipse Awards at www.drf.com/eclipse/polls.html. But your vote won't have the weight of an all-star ballot, as staffers from the Daily Racing Form, members of the National Turf Writers Association and representatives of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association comprise the official voting body.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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