Debate Looms In Montreal Superior Court

Published: February 5, 2009 07:02 pm EST

Is a racetrack operator in court-authorized creditor protection bound by the same rules as others when it comes to altering or obtaining permits for racing dates?

And can a company in creditor protection continue benefiting from some clauses of a contract while ignoring others, at its discretion?

These are among the legal questions being debated in Montreal Superior Court this week in a motion separate from racetrack operator Attractions Hippiques’ request for a 60-day extension of the creditor protection it first obtained last June.

Through their lawyers, the provincial horsemen’s and breeders’ associations argued that court protection cannot override the authority of the Quebec racing commission, La Regie des Alcools, Courses et Jeux (RACJ), when it comes to racing matters such as cancellation and rescheduling of live cards and the drafting of annual calendars.

Attractions Hippiques simply discarded the 2008 Quebec calendar okayed by RACJ and “unilaterally chose when the racing programs would be,” horsemen’s lawyer Jean-Philippe Gervais told the court.

Nor should Attractions Hippiques be allowed to pick and choose which clauses of its 2006 deal with the Quebec government are valid – specifically the ones providing it with revenue from VLTs and simulcasting – while failing to comply with the ones stipulating payment of rent at Hippodrome de Montreal and specific amounts for purses, Gervais said.

In a case of creditor protection, the existing contract is either totally valid, totally invalid, or renegotiated, Gervais said. “It’s not half and half. The law doesn’t allow them to act that way.”

Judge Chantal Corriveau, who is also adjudicating Attractions Hippiques’ contested request for an extension of creditor protection, will rule on these questions as well, likely next week.

(Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)