Rosecroft to take break until Nov. 26

Restructuring need cited

10 days of racing to be lost

Horse Racing

October 16, 2004|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

After conducting its marquee event tonight - the Maryland Sire Stakes Showcase of Champions - Rosecroft Raceway will cease live racing until Nov. 26 in an effort to "get the business back in line," said Tom Chuckas Jr., president and CEO of the Prince George's County harness track.

Rosecroft has been racing two nights per week, so the shutdown will cost it 10 days of live racing. The track will remain open for simulcasting.

Chuckas said yesterday that the ongoing simulcast situation with the thoroughbred factions and the failure to sell the track have prompted the break from live racing. He said the simulcast agreement with the thoroughbred side, in effect until Dec. 31, continues to be a drain on Rosecroft resources.

"There needs to be a period of time to restructure the business and put it back on positive footing," Chuckas said.

He said that beginning Nov. 26, Rosecroft will race Fridays and Saturdays until Dec. 18, the normal end of its season.

One of two harness tracks in the state, Rosecroft has struggled through a simulcast dispute with the state's thoroughbred factions and aborted sales agreements that wound up as costly court cases. First Centaur, an Indiana gaming company, and then Northwind Racing, a Laurel-based company, agreed to buy Rosecroft. Both deals ended up in court.

The family of Peter Angelos, who is majority owner of the Orioles, reached an agreement earlier this year to buy Rosecroft, but that agreement has not been completed.

Asked whether Rosecroft and the Angelos family were still negotiating, Angelos and Chuckas declined to comment. Chuckas said that Rosecroft, which is owned by its horsemen, is still for sale. The track is seen as a potential site for slot machines if the General Assembly approves them.

Of Rosecroft's remaining on the market, Chuckas said: "There are interested purchasers, but nothing has come to fruition."

He declined to elaborate.

In June, Chuckas told the Maryland Racing Commission that Rosecroft was on the verge of going out of business. He and other Rosecroft officials asked the commission for permission to offer simulcasting at the track without having to compensate the thoroughbred factions. The commission turned them down.

Rosecroft isn't the first track in Maryland to reduce racing dates as the state's racing industry continues to struggle in trying to compete with slots-rich tracks in nearby states. Pimlico and Laurel Park have cut back days, eliminated stakes races and cut purses.

Sun staff writer Ed Waldman contributed to this article.

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