Racing officials' pay plummets

March 17, 1995|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Sun Staff Writer

The top three executives of the Maryland Jockey Club -- whom critics have accused of taking too much pay during money-losing years -- received nearly $1 million less in compensation last year than the year before, due in part to an agreement with a lender.

Martin Jacobs, general counsel and treasurer of the Maryland Jockey Club, corporate parent of the Pimlico and Laurel Park thoroughbred racecourses, received $200,000 in salary last year, according to documents submitted to the Maryland Racing Commission this week but not included in packets the tracks provided to reporters on Wednesday.

Jacobs received $394,548 in 1993.

Karin Van Dyke, corporate secretary and sister of the jockey club's majority owner, Joseph De Francis, received $8,076 last year, down from $61,154 the year before, according to the documents.

De Francis reported no compensation last year, compared with the $719,396 he took in 1993. If business continues to improve, he said he hopes to resume taking a salary this year.

Total compensation for the three officers was down $966,995 to $208,076 in 1994, when the tracks reported a combined profit of $1.2 million. It was the first time the tracks have ended a year in the black since 1988, a dramatic turnaround resulting from the success of off-track wagering and simulcast racing.

The First National Bank of Maryland last year renegotiated about million worth of debt with the tracks and stipulated De Francis and his sister receive no salaries until the tracks make a profit and that Jacob's pay be halved.

Robert and John Manfuso, former minority investors in the tracks, raised the issue of excessive executive salaries at the tracks in 1993 in a lawsuit against De Francis.

De Francis said then that he was continuing a practice set by his late father, former track owner Frank De Francis, who also received pay in excess of $700,000.

De Francis pledged publicly not to take any pay in 1993 if the tracks didn't turn around, but did so despite the steep losses that year. At $700,000 a year, De Francis' pay since taking over the tracks -- a period during which the privately owned company lost nearly $10 million -- would total about $5 million.

This week's filings, the first since De Francis bought out the Manfusos last year, also showed De Francis holds about 75 percent of the voting stock in both tracks, his sister about 15 percent and Jacobs 10 percent. A group of 15 other investors, known as the Guida group, holds a limited partnership stake in Laurel.

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