Rosecroft Raceway and the state's thoroughbred interests have agreed to a 90-day resumption of thoroughbred simulcasting at Rosecroft, the harness track in Prince George's County, and the return of night simulcasting at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, the state's major thoroughbred tracks.
Representatives of the two sides began negotiating after Tuesday's contentious Maryland Racing Commission meeting at which thoroughbred leaders objected vehemently to Rosecroft's request to begin simulcasting thoroughbred races without compensating the state's thoroughbred interests.
The commission did not rule on Rosecroft's requests, but instead urged the two sides to work out an agreement.
According to Joe De Francis, president and CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club, thoroughbred racing simulcasts will return to Rosecroft today, and Pimlico and Laurel Park will open for evening simulcasting beginning tomorrow.
The agreement will last 90 days, said Alan Foreman, attorney for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. Tom Chuckas Jr., CEO of Rosecroft, told commissioners Tuesday that Rosecroft needed the revenue from thoroughbred simulcasts to remain viable and to help it attract a buyer.
"This gives them breathing room to try to sell the track," Foreman said.
Representatives of Rosecroft could not be reached for comment.
Chuckas said at the commission meeting that Rosecroft was on the verge of bankruptcy. He said the track lost $1.4 million in 2003 and had lost $1.7 million since April 19. That's when the thoroughbred factions pulled the plug on thoroughbred simulcasting at Rosecroft, a move that has hurt both sides.
Forced to shut down Pimlico and Laurel Park after 6:15 p.m., the Maryland Jockey Club has lost $1.6 million since April 19.
Chuckas told commissioners that four parties had shown interest in buying Rosecroft, which remains a potential site for slot machines if they're ever legalized in Maryland. Chuckas did not name the interested parties.
Rosecroft is embroiled in court battles with two former suitors - Centaur Racing, an Indiana company that contends it still has the right to buy Rosecroft, and Laurel-based Northwind Racing.
Northwind failed in its bid to buy Rosecroft when the racing commission last month denied its license application.
Northwind, however, had purchased Rosecroft's mortgage and has gone to court in Prince George's County to freeze the track's funds in a Virginia bank because, according to court papers it filed, Rosecroft is "operating at severe monthly losses."