De Francis: Deal close with Cooke

January 03, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Laurel/Pimlico operator Joe De Francis said he expects to complete an agreement with Jack Kent Cooke next week to sell 55 acres of land at Laurel Race Course to Cooke to build a stadium for his Washington Redskins football team.

"Mr. Cooke has been anxious to get this done earlier," De Francis said. "But he has been gracious enough to give me more time since I've been tied up the last couple of weeks with working out a settlement with the Manfusos [minority track partners] and getting amendments together for the Virginia application."

De Francis will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. today at Laurel Race Course to discuss the stadium deal and key amendments to his Virginia track proposal, which are due today.

Cooke, meanwhile, is scheduled to meet in Annapolis with Gov. William Donald Schaefer at 2 p.m.

At his news conference, De Francis will announce that he is moving the site of the proposed track from New Kent County in southern Virginia to a new northern location near Dulles Airport in Loudoun County.

He also is giving more complete financing details and has lined up Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc., one of the country's top five investment banking firms that is headquartered in Baltimore, to serve as the Maryland Jockey Club's adviser. The company will be the exclusive financing agent to raise the money to build the $55 million track.

Originally, De Francis had said Stephens Inc., a Little Rock, Ark., firm, would sell bonds to raise $50 million toward the cost of the track and that $5 million would come from private Virginia investors.

"Legg Mason not only has the size and financial muscle to handle this project, but they also are familiar with the area," De Francis said. "I can't think of anyone better to be involved in this deal and I regard their participation as a big plus."

De Francis said he has not reached an agreement with R. D. Hubbard, chairman of the board of Hollywood Park, about that track becoming his partner in the Virginia venture.

"Under Virginia law, I don't know if that possibility has to be part of the amendment process," De Francis said. "I'll have to consult with my lawyer [Bill Thomas in Richmond] to make that determination. Right now, that aspect of the Virginia deal [Hollywood's involvement] is still hanging out there."

Meyerhoff's first '94 win

It didn't take long for Robert Meyerhoff, Maryland's leading 1993 owner and breeder of stakes winners, to win his first 1994 stakes.

The victory came yesterday when Meyerhoff's 3-year-old colt, Looming, came from off the pace and beat Dumbarton Farm's Cashel Dancer by 1 1/4 lengths in the $26,725 Silano Stakes.

Private High, the other part of the favored Meyerhoff entry, finished fifth.

Looming was one of three sons of Broad Brush that trainer Richard Small ran Dec. 11 in the Maryland Juvenile Championship. The entry was favored, but failed to hit the board.

Looming ran best of the trio, finishing fifth. "He ran OK, but it was just a bad day all around," Small said. He added that Barge In, the seventh-place finisher, bled in the race and has since been sent along with Concern, his stablemate who was eighth, for some freshening in Camden, S.C.

Small said he probably will take Barge In and Concern to Oaklawn Park for the winter along with Valley Crossing, Tennis Lady and Sticks and Bricks.

"I'll probably leave Looming and Private High in Maryland," he said. "Private High didn't run too well today. He's studdish and might have to be gelded."

Other Meyerhoff stakes horses, Broad Gains and Frottage, will compete in Maryland this winter, Small said.

Small left immediately after the race for his Camden training headquarters.

"Valley Crossing goes to the track for the first time after getting about a month's rest," Small said. "I want to be there to get him started."


Maryland bettors could not wager on the simulcast of the Grade II William L. McKnight Handicap at Calder Race Course yesterday because the numbers of the horses were printed incorrectly in the Laurel program. The error apparently occurred after the computer company that is supposed to make changes sent incorrect information after scratch time on Saturday.

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