Cloverleaf to extend its option

March 09, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

The Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association, the harness horsemen's group attempting to purchase Rosecroft and Delmarva raceways from Colt Enterprises, will be able to extend its option to buy the two financially troubled tracks past the original 90-day deadline set for May 9, Cloverleaf officials said yesterday.

But at the same time, Colt management is continuing to talk to at least one other group, Top Speed Entertainment, which has expressed interest in buying the tracks, in case the Cloverleaf deal doesn't work out.

"We've been told that as long as we're making progress, we don't have to stick to deadlines," said Alan Foreman, the attorney representing Cloverleaf. "Colt has indicated that they want to complete the deal with us."

Charles Lockhart, Cloverleaf's executive director, added that he has had discussions with a number of people about becoming an equity partner, including Bob Manfuso, former part owner of the Laurel/Pimlico thoroughbred tracks. Lockhart said Manfuso had told him that he had been approached by a couple of people interested in Rosecroft/Delmarva. "We met and discussed the Rosecroft situation," Lockhart said. "But I don't even know if you'd term the meeting an exploratory talk.

"We've met with a number of other groups that had already expressed interest in purchasing the tracks and we're willing to listen to them. Then we'll take recommendations to our board and figure how we'll structure the deal."

Cloverleaf recently held a series of three public meetings where a number of people opposed the Cloverleaf move.

"I would say those segments are composed of people who support another group that wants to buy the tracks, whether the group is legitimate or not," Lockhart said. "There are also concerns about how Cloverleaf would structure and control management of the operation. We're reviewing the whole aspect of these concerns and are making changes in our original plan based on the sentiments we've heard."

Cloverleaf is considering expanding the track's governing board from seven to nine members and adding people of national stature as directors.

Criticism also has been aimed at the deal Cloverleaf made with Colt to reduce the number of live racing days at the tracks and to cut purses. Critics say if the Cloverleaf deal falls through and Colt places Rosecroft/Delmarva into bankruptcy, operation of the tracks will continue under a Maryland Racing Commis- sion-appointed trustee and then another buyer will step forward.

Ken Weckstein, a Washington attorney who is part of the Top Speed group, acknowledged that he and his partners are continuing "to stay in touch with Colt and keep the lines of communication open."

NOTES: Tank's Prospect, holder of the Preakness record of 1 minute, 53 2/5 seconds for 1 3/16 miles, has died of an aneurysm in Texas. The D. Wayne Lukas-trained runner won the Preakness in 1985.

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