Leon Levitsky, a Mount Rainier doctor and businessman, said yesterday he is negotiating to purchase the majority interest in the financially troubled Laurel Raceway.
Sources close to the Maryland harness-racing scene said the deals in vitually set. With Levitsky and a group of four or five undisclosed partners paying approximately $2.5 million for the 58.7 percent of Laurel stock held by Daniel J. Rizk, a New Jersey real estate developer.
However, the same sources indicated that the deal, which could be completed as early as Saturday, could fall through if Levitsky's group does not get what it considers favorable interest rates and financial arrangements from the Citizens Bank and Trust. Co. of Riverdale.
That bank holds Rizk's shares as collateral for a $2.2 million loan obtained by Greta R. Shamy, her husband and others in 1975 to purchase the track from Dick Hutchison, the original owner. The stock and the debt are the subjects of lawsuits in Howard and Anne Arundel counties.
"I haven't made a commitment in my mind," Levitsky said, "It's strictly a business investment. I don't even know how to read The Racing Form. I always lose when I go to the track.
"I don't think the whole deal has been defined. It's a very difficult complex situation with a lot of facets."
He said that financial commitments and getting what he described as "someone to keep his eye on the store" loomed as the major hangups at this point.
Levitsky and Leonard Lockhart, attorney for the raceway, said that a deal being completed by Monday, as reported in yesterday's editions of the Baltimore Sun, are unlikely.
Time is of the essence, Levitsky said, because the track's 1978 meeting begins June 23 and any new ownership must be approved by the Maryland Racing Commission's Harness Racing Board.
It would be the first ownership change the year-old Harness Racing Board would rule on.
"We're not going to be like the old regime," said Ben Schwartz, chairman of the board. "We're going to do an FBI check and everything."
If the sale is submitted for approval, commission rules call for the naming of all ownership interests.
Lockhart said he was actively negotiating with "three or four" different interests,but that his clients' first wish was to retain ownership through refinancing which they have been unable to obtain.
"Our plan all along was to refinance>" said Lockhart. "So far, we've been unsuccessful. The only thing left if we can't refinance is to sell. We're exploring all possibilities.
"It's obvious there are people who don't want the Shamys in Maryland. That's obvious. It's been obvious to me for three or four months. They've been leaking things to the press to fill this deal, as they have successfully with the refinancing."
"Levitsky has what he calls a "family practice" in Mount Rainer. He also is an owner of a hospital and a nursing home in Lanham. He said he is involved in other business ventures that he described as "a little bit of this and a lit bit of that."