CNET founder Minor bids for Md. racetracks

Entrepreneur seeks most of Magna's tracks, says he would invest in 'dilapidated' Pimlico, Laurel Park

April 05, 2009|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,hanah.cho@baltsun.com

Another potential buyer has emerged for Maryland's thoroughbred tracks up for sale by its bankrupt owner, a day after state officials criticized a Pikesville developer's plans to buy Pimlico Race Course and replace it with a shopping center.

Technology entrepreneur Halsey Minor, who had expressed interest in bidding for a slots license in Anne Arundel County, said Friday that he submitted a bid to buy all but one of Magna's U.S. tracks, including Pimlico and Laurel Park. Gulfstream Park in southern Florida was the one venue excluded from the bid.

Several other bidders have expressed interest in Pimlico and Laurel Park since last month's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Magna Entertainment Corp., which wants to auction off its tracks. A hearing on the auction process is scheduled for April 20.

Minor, who is trying to buy a historic track in Hialeah Park, Fla., is an owner of thoroughbred horses, and has family from the Baltimore area. He said he grew up with an appreciation for the state's equestrian heritage.

'Most dilapidated'

After selling off some assets, Minor said, he would reinvest in the horse racing industry, especially Laurel and Pimlico racetracks, and the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

"One of those places I'm going to want to rebuild ... is Maryland," he said, "because the tracks are the oldest and most dilapidated and least likely to attract new fans."

Minor's proposal, which he said he submitted to Magna's bankruptcy court-appointed creditors committee Thursday - and first reported Friday by trade publication The Blood-Horse - calls for the founder of CNET Networks to buy $200 million in debt Magna owes its controlling shareholder, MI Developments Inc., according to the publication. Magna and MID are controlled by auto-parts magnate Frank Stronach.

A lawyer for the creditors' committee could not be reached Saturday.

Minor also wants to buy or restructure $225 million of Magna's other debt, Blood-Horse reported.

The proposal is similar to one Minor submitted to Magna's board, which did not act on it, he said Saturday.

Carl Verstandig, president and chief executive officer of America's Realty LLC in Pikesville, wants to buy Laurel Park and Pimlico, but not the Preakness. He plans to redevelop their land into shopping centers.

Cordish interested

Verstandig said he would be open to maintaining the Preakness at Pimlico if someone else leased the track to run the annual May event.

Baltimore developer David S. Cordish has said his company will bid on the two tracks and the rights to the Preakness.

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