SBD/November 10, 2010/Facilities

Laurel Park's Future Unclear As Penn National Counters MID

Frank Stronach Plans To Issue Another Statement On The Future Of Laurel In The Next Few Days

The future of Laurel Park was "further clouded Tuesday, after the racetrack's minority owner said it still supports plans to eliminate live horse racing there," according to Hanah Cho of the Baltimore SUN. Penn National Gaming officials yesterday said they were "taken off guard" when MI Developments Chair Frank Stronach on Monday said he intends for Laurel Park to host thoroughbred racing next year. Stronach's comments come after the Maryland Jockey Club last week said that it "would move forward with plans to turn Laurel Park into an off-track betting site next year." Penn National Senior VP/Public Affairs Eric Schippers, whose company owns 49% of the MJC, yesterday said, "Without slot machines, unfortunately, the status quo can't work from a business perspective. We're a public company with responsibilities to our shareholders. Continuing to endure the level of losses, post-election, without making any necessary cuts is difficult to justify." Stronach yesterday declined to comment on Penn National's stance, saying only he would issue a statement in the "next few days." Under the joint venture, MID owns the remaining 51% of the MJC, and "any major decision involving the racing operations requires the unanimous approval of the five-member board, led by an MID majority." Cho notes Penn National had "entered into the joint venture to operate the Jockey Club in anticipation of slots possibly going to Laurel Park," and the company "hasn't given up on the prospect of expanding gambling at the track" (Baltimore SUN, 11/10).

TECH SAVVY: In L.A., Eric Sondheimer reports Minor Racing LLC Owner Halsey Minor has "offered to purchase substantially all of the horse racing assets" of MID, "with the idea of using technology to change the sport's fortunes." Minor Racing made an all-cash offer of $150-170M for Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, MJC, Amtote, XpressBet and HRTV, and "offered to acquire Gulfstream Park, Palm Meadows and other Florida-based racing assets" for an additional $150M. Minor "wants to use 3D technology, video and innovation to improve the racing business" (L.A. TIMES, 11/10).

IN NEED OF A CHANGE: In Newark, Ray Brienza reports Meadowlands Racetrack officials have "requested 141 racing dates" for '11, beginning on Jan. 7. Meadowlands is in the midst of a "17-night meeting that concludes on Dec. 18 and offers racing on only Friday and Saturday nights and has struggled to attract 5,000 fans the first three nights." The track would "once again offer a split meeting," racing through Aug. 20 next year and then again from Oct. 1-Dec. 31. But Meadowlands next year will "not be receiving funds from the state’s casinos as they have been the last three years and will find it difficult to come up with the funds needed to finance the high purses it has offered in past seasons." In order to be "provided with a license in New Jersey a track must agree to run 140 dates during the year." It is expected that there "will be efforts made to change the law to a lesser number," but to date there has been "no legislation introduced to do that" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/10).

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