Magna VP says no plans to sell tracks

Borgemenke doesn't rule out future sale of Pimlico, Laurel

Q & A

May 18, 2008|By SANDRA MCKEE

Scott Borgemenke, executive vice president of racing for Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, took time yesterday to address a number of issues:

On the possible sale of either Maryland track:

"We've no plans right now to sell either one of the facilities. Would I say ever? You never know. Someone could be knocking with a really big check. But it's not in the plans right now. But then again, I don't know what our partners look like or what they will be asking for. ... But we're not looking to get out of Maryland racing at all."

On the Preakness:

"We've never had any plans to move the Preakness. I think there are a lot of people who like to use things as leverage. We're committed to Maryland racing. We're committed to this facility. We've put tens of millions of dollars into Laurel. The Preakness itself is tradition. The plan is to keep it here. ... I've never been part of any discussion - I've been part of rumor mills - but never any discussions about moving it."

On the Preakness infield:

"I think there are two different sets of fans. You have your infield fans, there for a party and a celebration and to be with each other. And on the other side, you have your racing fans, who are on the other side and come for the gaming. But the infield is important because it is an exposure to racing. You want people to come and have a good time. You want them to come back. Maybe the next time they come when it is less crowded and less intimidating and they'll start to wager. And that's why I think the infield fan is real important."

On any impact from Eight Belles' death after the Kentucky Derby:

"What happened in the Derby is something the industry will continue to try to fix. You know what? It can happen at the second race at Laurel Park, too. It's part of the sport. This was a problem in the industry 50 years ago. Horses broke down. It was a problem at the Derby and will be a problem 20 years from now. But we're studying it. We're constantly trying to make the situation better. ... We're trying all things to make sure the horses are protected."

On the weekend competition:

"We took some races off the turf for the safety of the horses. That hurt some field sizes Friday. But I think it has been exciting. Bringing the Pimlico Special back, that's horse racing tradition. In fact, I was in the third-floor clubhouse and you look at the winners who won the Special; quite frankly, it is an amazing list of horses. We're very excited to bring that race back."

On the short fields in numerous races over the weekend:

"I think purses are an issue. I think if you look around, field sizes are not great anywhere in the region. I'm surprised Delaware's fields aren't bigger. I don't know what is causing it. ... But the No. 1 determiner of the handle is the competitiveness of the field and the field size. It's something we need to work on. ... Purses have been reduced. There's not enough money in the till to pay them."

On the slots referendum:

"You can debate the details, that it's good or not good, but we're going to be supportive. We're going to put in a bid to get slots at the racetrack. We want to put in restaurants, horse racing hotels. We want to make it a destination that attracts more than the average horse fans. [At the end of the day, it will be] soccer moms and NASCAR dads who decide the issue based on whether they want their taxes increased."

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