State racing commission members said yesterday that they were hopeful a solution could be found in the wake of a move Friday by First National Bank of Maryland to foreclose on an $11 million loan to the state's two harness tracks, owned by developer Mark Vogel.
One of the tracks, Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, is scheduled to open for the season Friday.
"I don't believe we can intervene as far as First National is concerned, but we'll have to wait and see what their intentions are," John H. Mosner Jr., a member of the Maryland Racing Commission, said.
"I do believe it's in First National's best interests to keep the harness industry healthy; it is such an important industry in this state. So I don't think you'll see any break or gap [in the upcoming harness racing schedule]."
The Washington Post reported yesterday that First National had filed papers seeking to freeze the operating accounts of the tracks and foreclose on Vogel's loan. Vogel also owns Delmarva Downs, near Ocean City.
The bank's actions came after Vogel missed two loan payments in December and January.
Vogel is scheduled to meet with First National officials Tuesday. His attorney, Paul Mark Sandler, said yesterday that Vogel will present a plan showing that all material defaults can be cured.
"I am hopeful . . . that a working relationship can be established with the bank that will provide for a healthy climate for the track to continue operating, growing and serving as a source of entertainment for the citizens of Maryland that enjoy harness racing," Sandler said.
A spokesman with First National said the bank could not comment on its financial dealings with Vogel.
Last week, Vogel told racing commission members that he no longer intended to sell his tracks. The tracks had been for sale since Oct. 1, after Vogel's arrest in Virginia on a narcotics charge Sept. 13. Vogel since has pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and was sentenced to probation for one year.
The racing commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday and probably will discuss matters involving Vogel, said Mosner. Commission member Eric Frederick said he believes Vogel will have to reach an agreement with First National to ensure Rosecroft's opening.
Though the bank's move has threatened Rosecroft's opening, commission member John P. McDaniel said he believes the issues will be resolved.
TTC "It's a serious situation, and one we feared would develop with all the eggs being in one basket," McDaniel said in reference to Vogel's monopoly. "But I do believe it is something that will be resolved, simply because the harness industry is too important not to be protected, even if it takes heroic efforts."