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Category: Sports

Surprise Surprise: Race Track Auction Delayed – Again

First it was January, then early February, and then tomorrow, Tues. Feb. 23…and now the auction of Laurel and Pimlico race tracks has been delayed yet again. It will be held now on March 23. The request for the delay was granted on Friday, Feb. 19 by the Delaware judge for the Magna Entertainment Corporation bankruptcy case after Magna filed a financial reorganization plan with the courts on Thursday, Feb. 18. Also at issue is whether or not Maryland can claim eminent domain over The Preakness and The Maryland State General Assembly granted itself the power to exercise eminent domain over the privately owned Preakness, and has therefore declared that Maryland has the first right of refusal in any sale. This hearing has likewise been delayed. To read more, visit these links: Baltimore Sun: Magna Reorganization Plan Filed Baltimore Sun: Auction Delayed The Daily...

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Anti-Slots Petition Filed; Now What?

Anti-Slots Petition Filed, Now What? By Lynda Sasscer Hill On February, 4, 2010, the coalition of petitioners, including (but not limited to) the Maryland Jockey Club and the local activist group Stop Slots at Arundel Mills, surprised skeptics by submitting over 23,000 signatures to the Anne Arundel Board of Elections, exceeding the 18,790 needed to override the County Council’s approval of the Cordish slots zoning request (known as Bill 82-09), instead putting the request before the voters. “Without question, there is overwhelming opposition by Anne Arundel County citizens to placing a casino at Arundel Mills Mall,” claimed Rob Annicelli, president of the citizens group Stop Slots at Arundel Mills. “The mall is not the right location for a slots casino and is not in the best interests of the citizens of Anne Arundel County.” Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, said, “We are confident, that if given the choice, the people of Anne Arundel County will choose a more appropriate location for 4,750 slot machines that will benefit our county, our state and the thousands of jobs in the horse racing industry.” The more appropriate location, of course, would be Laurel Park. However, according to a February 5 the Baltimore Sun article, Cordish managing partner Joseph Weinberg has charged that there are “massive irregularities” in the petition drive. “Upon review, we are confident the referendum will be...

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Jockey Club Says It Has Enough Signatures, Cordish Alleges Irregularities

According to a press release from the Maryland Jockey Club, over 23,000 signatures of Anne Arundel County residents have been collected in an attempt to block the special zoning for a slots parlor adjacent to the Arundel Mills shopping center. A minimum number of 18,790 signatures were needed in order to put the special zoning ordinance on the November ballot. The petition signatures must be certified before the issue can officially be placed on the ballot. In the Maryland Daily Record, the Cordish Companies (owners of the Arundel Mills site) allege irregularities with the petition drive and the signatures collected. Stay tuned to for reactions in the horse industry. READER COMMENT “I think the slots belong at the race tracks!!!!!!  The original intention was to boost the faltering Maryland horse racing association. Our senators/congressman may not know that Maryland for generations was known for producing fine Thoroughbred race horses, second only to Kentucky.  Due to the small purses offered at Maryland’s tracks today, many horse people will not race in Maryland.  Moving the slots to tracks would not only help the horse industry, but would bring additional help to many businesses – hotels, restaurants, shops, etc.  We pay for schools in our taxes, not our fault if the misappropriated the money.” – Jeannie Mohr...

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Cordish, Jockey Club make impassioned pleas to Horsemen

At the Thursday evening, January 21, 2010 meeting of the Maryland Horse Council, current and potential future owners of Laurel/Pimlico race courses presented to a packed room radically different perspectives of the current slots situation in Anne Arundel County and how the future of Laurel Park might be affected. Laurel and Pimilco Race Courses are slated to be auctioned February 10, 2010 in order to settle parent company Magna Entertainment’s bankruptcy proceedings. Over 100 horse people filled the Vista Room at the Maryland State Fair Grounds; many leaders in the Thoroughbred industry peppered the audience, including former track owner Bob Manfuso, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen Association’s Richard Hoffberger, Maryland Stallion Station owner Don Litz, Shamrock Farms’s Jim Steele, Maryland Horse Breeders Assocation Executive Director Cricket Goodall, plus Katy Voss, Bill Reightler, Brice Ridgely, Christy Clagett and many more. Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club (which is owned by Magna), explained how and why the Jockey Club is organizing a petition drive in Anne Arundel County, in which they hope to gather enough signatures from county residents to overturn the special zoning the Cordish Companies received (the zoning exemption allows Cordish to build a slots parlor near Arundel Mills). If MJC is able to raise enough signatures to overturn the granted special zoning, MJC believe it will give them the needed window of opportunity to resubmit a bid for...

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Laurel & Pimlico Auction Delayed Again

According to Karin De Francis, the auction of the Thoroughbred tracks has been delayed until February 10th, but she gave no reason for the delay. Although Magna assumed ownership of Laurel, Pimlico and the Bowie Training Center from the De Francis family, Karin De Francis still works closely with the Maryland Jockey Club to promote Maryland racing.  The delay is upsetting horsemen who are anxious to get on with whatever the future may bring.  For more on the delay, see the article by Liz Farmer in The Daily...

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Happy 2010! Cordish Christmas Gift, De Francis Denied, Auction Delays

The Cordish Companies were delivered a Christmas gift on December 22 when Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold signed Bill 82-08, granting Cordish’s zoning request to allow his Arundel Mills casino site to move forward. To read more, see the January issue of The Equiery or click on this link: Washington Post Explains Use of Paid Signature Gatherers by Jockey Club Meanwhile, horsemen and pundits eagerly (some nervously) awaiting the January 8 Magna bankruptcy auction for Laurel Park, Pimilco Racecourse and the Bowie Training Center will have to once again put their expectations in park, as yesterday Magna requested that the court delay the auction – ostensibly so that Magna could reach a preliminary private deal with one of the potential bidders of the property.  Privately, however, horsemen are wondering if the delay is so that Magna can have enough time to gin up enough signatures of Arundel Mill residents to nullify the Cordish zoning exemption. In the midst of all of this, according to various news reports, the bankruptcy judge overseeing the Magna case has declared that the deal Joe De Francis made with Magna (when the international company purchased the tracks from the De Francis family) for a piece of any slots action can not be transferred to a new owner. Unless De Francis purchases the tracks himself, he will not gain in the future from...

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