Pimlico, Laurel racetracks report losing $272,706 combined last year

March 19, 2003|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

Maryland's major thoroughbred racetracks lost a combined $272,706 last year, according to financial statements released yesterday.

Although Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore posted a $1.6 million profit for the year, it was more than offset by a $1.9 million loss at Laurel Park.

The tracks have overlapping corporate ownership, which have been pushing for approval of slot machines at the tracks to boost racing purses - and profits.

The latest financial statement shows that Pimlico's profit was less than half the $3.9 million profit that the track posted in 2001.

At Laurel Park, losses were cut from $2.4 million in 2001 to $1.9 million last year.

The loss was the first since 1993, when the two thoroughbred tracks lost a combined $7.2 million.

Maryland Jockey Club President Joseph A. DeFrancis, minority owner of the tracks, did not respond to telephone calls yesterday seeking comment on the latest figures.

The report shows $31.5 million in revenue from races at Pimlico last year, down $1.4 million from $32.9 million in 2001. At Laurel Park, racing revenue totaled $22.6 million, up from $22.2 million in 2001.

The expenses for the two tracks included $780,000 in salaries to three top officers.

De Francis's salary as president and chief executive officer was listed at $350,000; Martin Jacobs, who served until recently as general counsel and treasurer was paid $290,000; and De Francis's sister Karin was paid $140,00 as executive vice president.

The financial report also shows track owners paid $442,072 to Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver, their lobbyist. That is about twice the payments made to the lobbying firm the year before.

Track owners also paid $216,361 in professional fees to the law firm of Venable, Baetjer and Howard.

Other expenses included $4.4 million for "advertising, publicity and promotion."

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