Mark Vogel, owner of Rosecroft Raceway and Delmarva Downs, told the Maryland Racing Commission on Wednesday night that he no longer is interested in selling Maryland's two harness tracks.
"I decided that because the tracks are my best asset, it was in my best interest to keep them," Vogel said yesterday. The tracks had been for sale since Oct. 1 after Vogel was arrested Sept. 13 in Virginia on a cocaine-related charge.
The Washington Post reported yesterday that Vogel intended to keep his tracks.
Vogel said he told the commission of his intent to maintain ownership while expressing his optimism for the tracks this year. He said a written proposal of his plans will be submitted to the commission soon.
Vogel pleaded guilty to one count of cocaine possession in November. He received a one-year probation, under which the charge will be expunged if he doesn't commit another offense during that time.
Racing commission executive director Ken Schertle said yesterday that because of the plea arrangement, it is doubtful that the commission would revoke Vogel's ownership licenses. The commission has the authority to deny an operating license to anyone convicted of a felony. Schertle said he did not know how, or in what capacity, the commission would act upon Vogel's forthcoming proposal until it has been reviewed.
Included in the proposal is a request to direct racetrack funds for track-related attorney fees not covered in a current agreement with the commission. In the agreement, Vogel is not allowed to extract funds from the tracks for other interests, which auditors last year found he had done to support his real-estate business. At the racing commission's request, he had relinquished day-to-day control of the tracks to general manager Jim Murphy.
In recent months, Vogel's extensive real estate operations have been beset by problems.
"The cash-flow outlook for tracks in the coming year is good," Vogel said. "It's my biggest moneymaker. You've got to remember, I've already got a lot of money in these tracks. Because there had been so much publicity about the tracks being on the market, I wanted to clear up my intentions."
Vogel reportedly was asking $20 million to $25 million for Rosecroft, in Fort Washington in Prince George's County, and Delmarva, in Berlin near Ocean City.
Rosecroft will begin its yearlong meet a week from today. Delmarva will open May 24.