The board of directors representing the owners of Rosecroft Raceway voted yesterday to sell the Prince George's County harness track after listening to presentations by three potential buyers.
However, the board did not decide to whom to sell the track. It gave itself 30 days - until Oct. 17 - to decide among the three suitors or anyone else who steps forward with the highest bid, said Tom Chuckas Jr., Rosecroft's chief operating officer.
He said the three bidders were Magna Entertainment Corp., which recently signed a deal to become majority owner of Pimlico and Laurel Park; Centaur Racing, part-owner of Hoosier Park in Indiana, and Greenwood Racing, the parent company of Philadelphia Park and its six off-track-betting sites in Pennsylvania.
Chuckas said that the spokesmen for each company made offers that varied widely, but that this is how much each offer was worth: Centaur $47 million, Greenwood $49 million and Magna $68 million.
Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns 10 tracks and has deals pending for four more, including Pimlico and Laurel Park, signed an agreement in July to buy 51 percent of the Maryland Jockey Club in a deal valued at $117 million.
That still must be approved by the Maryland Racing Commission, but Frank Stronach, chairman of Magna, already has announced plans to tear down Pimlico and Laurel Park and replace them with new tracks. Jim McAlpine, Magna's president, made yesterday's presentation to the general membership of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association. The CSOA is the standardbred horsemen's group - trainers, breeders and horse owners - that owns Rosecroft Raceway. In a deal unusual in the horse industry, the association bought Rosecroft in 1995 as it teetered on the verge of bankruptcy.
The track has struggled in its attempt to compete with nearby harness tracks in Delaware whose vastly richer purses are subsidized by slot machines.
Chuckas said that the standardbred horsemen seemed to agree that new owners with money and political clout would benefit Rosecroft and the Maryland's racing industry in general.