Harness tracks file for bankruptcy

January 11, 1991|By David Michael Ettlin

On the eve of its 1991 season opening, Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George's County and a sister harness track on the Eastern Shore filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday under an agreement worked out between owner Mark Vogel and First National Bank of Maryland.

The bank had moved a week ago to foreclose on an $11 million loan to Vogel, a developer who in recent months has had financial and legal problems -- the latter including a drug conviction.

The late-afternoon filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore was viewed by attorneys representing Vogel as a move in the best interests of the parties involved in the legal dispute as well as track workers, the racing industry and the state.

Rosecroft, in Fort Washington, will be open for racing as scheduled at 7:30 tonight. The other harness racing track, Delmarva Downs in Berlin, near Ocean City, will be open with simulcast betting, said spokesman Jerry Connors.

Under terms of the petition filed yesterday, James J. Murphy, formerly president and general manager of Rosecroft and Delmarva Downs, becomes trustee and will continue to run the tracks.

"The filing was voluntary, based upon agreement between the [race track] entities owned by Mr. Vogel and the bank," said the developer's attorney, Paul Mark Sandler. "The purpose of the agreement was to provide a stable environment for resolving the dispute between Mr. Vogel and the banks and to avoid the disputes . . . flowing over into the race track, which could only be detrimental to the employees and those who depend on the race track for their livelihood."

The developer's bankruptcy lawyer, Ira Wolpert, said the parties agreed that "this was best for the public, for the track, for all the employees, and that this would best preserve and protect the asset. The bank in fact is going to advance additional money to the track to keep it operating."

James M. Smith, the attorney representing First National, could not be reached for comment last night.

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