De Francis says Guida can't force him to sell President of Laurel plans to stand pat


LAUREL -- Laurel Race Course president and controlling owner Joe De Francis downplayed yesterday the significance of his rejection of an offer for his stock in the track, saying, "I am not interested in selling, period, end of story."

On Monday, De Francis rejected an $8 million offer from Lou Guida for his 20 percent equity and controlling interest in the track.

De Francis told reporters that Guida, who owns 50 percent equity in Laurel, "can't force me to sell. If he wants to sell his stock to a third party, that's certainly his prerogative. That's about all he can do.

"I don't see any significant happenings here."

Guida, who heads a limited partnership group that owns no voting stock, said he originally wanted to be bought out. But because he did not receive a satisfactory proposal, he reversed tactics and made an offer for De Francis' interests.

"Perhaps he thought purchasing my interest was the way to go," said De Francis.

Guida said yesterday that he would increase his offer, but De Francis said talks between himself and Guida concerning a buyout are "terminated."

"My sole desire is to devote all my time and energy to making Maryland racing the best it can possibly be," De Francis said.

Addressing Guida's stated concern for the track's future after the 1989 death of Joe's father, Frank J. De Francis, and the retirement of co-owners Bob and Tom Manfuso from management positions, De Francis said, "If you stack up the performance of our tracks last year against any in the country, I'd say it was as good as any.

"I've always had good relationships with my partners. There is no power struggle."

On Monday, Tom Manfuso said that if Guida's bid had been accepted, he and his brother Bob would have bought De Francis' stock under a right-of-first-refusal agreement.

Tom Manfuso also denied any acrimony between themselves and De Francis.

Guida owns no interest in Pimlico Race Course, which De Francis and the Manfusos also own.

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