Magna's offer for Rosecroft includes guaranteed purses

Capital improvements, upgrades also in proposal

Horse Racing

September 20, 2002|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Magna Entertainment Corp.'s offer of $68 million to buy Rosecroft Raceway includes $12 million for the track itself plus capital improvements, backstretch upgrades and guaranteed purses for 10 years, according to Tom Winebrener, president of the board of directors of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association.

Representing the CSOA, which owns the Prince George's County harness track, the board voted Wednesday to sell Rosecroft but to wait until Oct. 17 to decide whom to sell to. Magna and two other companies made presentations to the CSOA membership - trainers, breeders and horse owners - and submitted letters of intent for purchasing the track.

If Magna is chosen by the CSOA board, the Canadian-based racing conglomerate could wind up in control of Pimlico and Laurel Park, the state's major thoroughbred tracks, and Rosecroft Raceway, the state's primary harness track. In recent years, the harness and thoroughbred sides have bickered, derailing attempts at improving the state's racing.

Magna has signed an agreement to become majority owner of Pimlico and Laurel Park in a deal valued at $117 million. The Maryland Racing Commission must approve that sale as well as any deal involving Rosecroft.

Lou Ulman, chairman of the commission, said that it was too early to comment on Magna's possible control of the three tracks, but that "one company having a monopoly on racing in the Baltimore-Washington corridor could be very positive, or very negative. It's something we'd obviously want to look into."

Magna would appear to be the front-runner for Rosecroft, as its $68 million package far exceeds the other bidders. Greenwood Racing, the parent company of Philadelphia Park, offered $49 million, and Centaur Racing, part-owner of Hoosier Park in Indiana, offered $47 million.

Most of that money, Winebrener said, is earmarked for 10 years of purses. Magna guaranteed purses of $80,000 per day for six years and then $55,000 per day for four years after that - with a kicker if the track gets slot machines.

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