Two tracks draw bid for $13.5M Del. Park owner eyes Md. harness facilities

December 07, 1996|By Kent Baker HTCSO: SUN STAFF

A new player has emerged in the sale talks surrounding Rosecroft Raceway and Ocean Downs.

William Rickman, owner of Delaware Park Race Course, has offered Cloverleaf Enterprises, Inc., an organization of Maryland standardbred horsemen, $13.5 million to purchase outright both of the struggling tracks.

"We haven't finalized any agreement," said Gerald Brittingham, president of CEI. "But it certainly adds a new dimension to our position."

The horsemen have been engaged in lengthy negotiations with the Bally's casino company regarding a bailout of their $10 million-plus debt to the company, with the sides exchanging proposals that, basically, would leave Bally's in control of at least Ocean Downs.

The latest offer came from the Standardbred Owners' Association (SOA), the stockholders in CEI, and included a $2 million sale of Ocean Downs to Bally's. Half of that amount would be used by the horsemen to reduce their debt, with the other half going toward operating expenses. The deal also would include a continuation of live racing at Ocean Downs if the state grants legislative relief, control of race dates and purses by the horsemen if slot machines should come to Maryland, and a role in the lobbying procedure for slots.

Also involved in the offer is a reamortization of the horsemen's debt should Ocean Downs be sold, and a waiver of certain interest payments.

With the introduction of Rickman's offer, the ball is now clearly in the court of Bally's, which has been managing the track since making the loan.

The other factor is a Dec. 19 hearing by the Maryland Racing Commission that will examine the standardbred industry's financial troubles and could result in the suspension or postponement of 1997 dates it has previously approved.

Pub Date: 12/07/96

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