Rosecroft Raceway owners settle debt, clear way for selling track

December 01, 2004|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

The owners of Rosecroft Raceway said yesterday that they have settled a debt with a former business partner - clearing the way for the sale of the harness track to the family of Baltimore trial lawyer Peter G. Angelos.

The track, located just off the Capital Beltway in Prince George's County, has been eyed as a potential site for a lucrative slot machine gambling license if the General Assembly decides to allow slots in Maryland.

Rosecroft's former business partner, Northwind Racing LLC, was holding a mortgage on the track, which has struggled financially in recent years. Northwind advertised in area newspapers the past two weeks that it would auction Rosecroft off to the highest bidder tomorrow to satisfy the unpaid debt.

However, Rosecroft's owner, Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., received an infusion of cash after striking a deal Nov. 20 to sell the track to a group controlled by members of the Angelos family. The group, Rosecroft Holdings LLC, headed by Angelos' son Louis, put money in escrow to pay off the $7.6 million debt owed Northwind.

The money was part of a deal to buy the harness track that totaled $13 million in cash, a percentage of any future slots revenues and a guarantee that at least $5 million in purses would be paid out annually at Rosecroft.

Louis Angelos is heading up the group that was formed to buy the track because his father, as majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles, is prohibited by Major League Baseball from having direct ownership interest in a gambling venture.

Thomas Chuckas Jr., Rosecroft's chief executive, said that the settlement negotiated with Northwind eliminates the threat that the property might be auctioned and "clears the path for the Angelos group to move forward on the purchase of Rosecroft."

The deal to sell to the Angelos family still has to be approved by the Maryland Racing Commission, which must decide whether to issue a license to the new owner to operate the track.

A lobbyist for Peter Angelos has said he expects Angelos' influence with Maryland lawmakers to help in getting slots legislation passed when the General Assembly meets in January.

Slots bills introduced the past two years have passed the Senate but stalled in the House of Delegates.

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