WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The family-owned Delaware Park, home to the state’s biggest thoroughbred horse race each year, is being sold to a private equity firm and a gambling investor.
The sale of Delaware Park, which has been operated by the Rickman family since the early 1980s and now includes a casino, should be completed by the end of the year, according to a news release Friday.
The new owners will be Canadian-based Clairvest Group Inc. and Rubico Gaming LLC, a newly formed subsidiary run by investor Thomas Benninger, The News Journal of Wilmington reported.
Delaware Park President Bill Fasy, who declined to comment Friday when asked about a sale price, said he wasn’t aware of any immediate operational changes to the Wilmington-based attraction, which hosts the Delaware Handicap each July.
First developed by William du Pont Jr. in the 1930s, Delaware Park was known as the only major East Coast track, save for Aqueduct in New York, that raced in June.
In 1983, longtime Maryland-based real estate developer William Rickman Sr. purchased the track, which had closed after financial troubles, according to the newspaper. He revived the business by offering smaller purses, which attracted cheaper horses. Competition improved in 1996 when legislation allowed slot machines at the track.
Rickman operated the business for 10 years before handing day-to-day operations to his son William Rickman Jr. The elder Rickman died in 2005.
The Rickman family also used to own Ocean Downs, a casino and horse racing track, in Maryland.
Clairvest approached the Rickman family about a year ago about a potential sale, Fasy said.
“They felt this was the right time to sell,” Fasy said. Delaware Park will be the 30th casino and racetrack Clairvest has invested in, he added.