No change on Rosecroft, simulcasts

Md. Commission adjourns

next hearings May 11-12

Horse Racing

April 22, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Racing Commission met for a second straight day yesterday but adjourned without resolving the ownership issue at Rosecroft Raceway or the simulcast dispute between the standardbred and thoroughbred factions.

The commission won't decide until it meets again in May whether Northwind Racing is an acceptable buyer for Rosecroft, the struggling harness track in Prince George's County.

Commissioners heard more testimony yesterday at Pimlico - after opening the hearing Tuesday at the North East Racing and Sports Club in North East - but adjourned with more witnesses still to testify.

The commission has set aside two more days - May 11 and 12 - to conclude the hearing. Management at Rosecroft had hoped for a quick decision on ownership so it could meet a growing financial crisis at the track. With ownership still uncertain, layoffs are possible within two weeks.

Meanwhile, the simulcast dispute continues between the thoroughbred and standardbred sides, with Pimlico and Laurel Park closed at night and Rosecroft accepting bets only on harness races. Representatives of both sides plan to meet quickly to try to resolve the conflict.

The fight is over money from simulcasting. The current and prospective owners of Rosecroft - as well as the affiliated horsemen and breeders - want to accept bets on thoroughbred races from around the country without compensating the state's thoroughbred interests.

They say such a "free market" approach is the only way their track can survive and the state's racing industry can grow.

The thoroughbred interests vehemently oppose that, saying Rosecroft's plan would deprive the thoroughbred interests of $6.5 million a year. In protest, they pulled the plug on thoroughbred simulcasts at Rosecroft as of Monday.

The commission is considering Northwind Racing as the potential owner of Rosecroft. Mark Ricigliano, a Laurel businessman and Rosecroft veterinarian, owns 10 percent of Northwind. Greenwood Racing, which owns racetracks, off-track-betting sites and a telephone-betting network in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, owns 90 percent.

However, representatives of Centaur Racing are participating in the hearing. They failed to meet a deadline to buy Rosecroft last fall but still contend they're the rightful buyers. They're fighting in court to try to establish that.

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