Losses hit Rosecroft, Delmarva

May 12, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

Colt Enterprises, Inc., the owners of harness tracks Rosecroft Raceway and Delmarva Downs, presented a bleak financial picture at the Maryland Racing Commission's monthly meeting yesterday.

John Kuhn, vice president of Colt, said the tracks have lost $4.8 million since Colt purchased them 31 months ago. But he added a more optimistic note.

"If all the entities that we work with pull together and they get a few breaks, I think harness racing [in Maryland] can survive and go on," Kuhn said in response to a question from commissioner John H. "Jack" Mosner Jr.

"I'm still concerned with the problems we have," said Rosecroft president Ted Snell. "There are more and more gambling facilities being built without racing."

A committee chaired by Dr. Allan Levey, a commission member, is studying the impact of casino-type gambling on horse racing. Levey said some who monitor the growth of gambling predict that "within eight to 10 years" a casino will be located "within 80 miles of every American."

Rosecroft, in Prince George's County, and Delmarva, near Ocean City, are for sale by the principal owner, Frederick Weisman, who is ill.

"He has a desire to liquidate his businesses and consolidate his holdings," Kuhn told the commission. He would not discuss details of the sale or prospective buyers.

Mosner asked Colt Enterprises for a written business plan to be forwarded to the commission if a sale is not completed by June 30.

Snell said, "No question business in general is up" slightly at the harness facilities and that purses have improved since Colt took over in October 1991.

On another issue, Cloverleaf Inc., a Standardbred horsemen group, received tentative commission approval for a ban on bent-shaft sulkies.

The United States Trotting Association has adopted legislation (effective Sept. 1) to bar the equipment for safety reasons.

Bent-shaft sulkies restrict the peripheral vision of drivers and have been involved in a number of serious accidents in other states.

Drivers have objected on two counts. They say the bent-shaft sulky helps a horse retain speed for a longer period, and that returning to conventional sulkies will be expensive.

The commission chairman John McDaniel said after a 45-day comment period the commission will consider the issue again.

NOTES: The commission gave Pimlico two additional weeks for its summer meet, which will start July 26 instead of Aug. 9. Laurel's fall meeting will now begin Sept. 27 with the Maryland Million card scheduled for Oct. 1. . . . The commission ratified a $6 Preakness Day admission charge at Laurel and Rosecroft and a $3 seating charge on the days of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont at two off-track betting outlets, the Cracked Claw near Frederick and the Riverboat On The Potomac in Colonial Beach, Va. . . . Approval was given for Fair Hill to conduct one of its meeting days May 30, starting at 1 p.m.. . . . Delmarva, which is scheduled to open May 20, will be allowed to reduce clubhouse admission from $4 to $3, and Rosecroft-Delmarva will replace the minimum $3 triple bet with a $2 wager. . . . Several trainers, headed by Bill Donovan, again expressed concern about the location of the Lasix barn (on the backside) at Pimlico. Commission members said they would again address the matter.

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