Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Maryland moves to sieze racetracks

Earlier today in the General Assembly in Annapolis, House Bill 1578 was introduced attempting to confiscate Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park, the Bowie Training Center and the Preakness Stakes from the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC).

“We share the Governor’s interest in preserving the historic Maryland Jockey Club and the Preakness,” said MJC president and chief operating officer Tom Chuckas. ”But we question the government’s right to confiscate private property which will only lead to more confusion and litigation while these matters are in bankruptcy. The Chapter 11 process should be allowed to proceed.”

MJC (Pimlico, Laurel Park and the Bowie Training Center) is a subsidiary of Magna Entertainment Corp. (MEC). MEC filed for bankruptcy protection on March 5, 2009 in the United States Bankruptcy Court.

“We are disappointed by the introduction of the legislation and the threat to our assets,” said Greg Rayburn, the Interim Chief Executive Officer of MEC. “We acknowledge that these are challenging times for the Maryland horse racing industry and are engaging in discussions with the Governor and the legislature to try and find an amicable solution.”

On other matters, the Maryland Court of Appeals has granted Laurel Racing’s Petition for Certiorari and, thus, has taken up the appeal filed by Laurel Racing Assoc. regarding the Anne Arundel County slots gaming license. Oral arguments will be heard on June 9, 2009.

“The constitutional and statutory construction issues raised by Laurel Racing are significant and directly affect fair bidding procedures and the future of MJC’s racing operations,” said Alan M. Rifkin, attorney for the Maryland Jockey Club. “The central issue on appeal is whether the requirement of a nonrefundable multi-million dollar initial license fee in order to bid on a State contract is constitutional. We look forward to the appellate review.” --MJC

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