ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 27 -- The extent to which developer and racetrack owner Mark Vogel pledged track assets to troubled real estate ventures will not be determined until an audit of Vogel's two harness tracks is completed, Maryland Racing Commission officials told a legislative panel today.

In a hearing before the joint committee on horse racing, the racing commission said it ordered an examination of finances related to Rosecroft Raceway and Delmarva Downs after learning that Vogel withdrew approximately $2 million from the tracks this year. The audit, which began Monday at Vogel's expense, might be available next week, commissioner Peter Bozick said after the hearing.

In another development, federal authorities seized a helicopter owned by Vogel, alleging that it had been used to transport cocaine to Atlantic City. According to a race track source, Vogel used at least $87,500 in Rosecroft funds to help finance the purchase of the helicopter {Page A1}.

Vogel was arrested Sept. 13 on a charge of possession of four grams of cocaine.

On Wednesday, Vogel signed an agreement to forfeit operational and financial control of the tracks until he and the racing commission "mutually determine and agree that the interests and viability of harness racing in Maryland justify a termination" of the contract. The arrangement, recommended by the commission to detach Vogel's racetrack finances from his vast unrelated holdings, appoints General Manager Jim Murphy to direct finances and the day-to-day affairs of both tracks. Any payments for nonracing purposes must be approved by the commission.

In addition, racing commissioners Bozick and Allan Levey will head an oversight committee to monitor operations at the tracks -- Rosecroft, in Oxon Hill, and Delmarva Downs, near Ocean City. "From now on, I'm going to be looking under every rock," Bozick said after the hearing. He also will assume custody of the $450,000 Maryland standardbred fund account, bypassing the tracks in directing earnings to horse owners and breeders.

Racing commission representatives briefed the committee on the sequence of events preceding Vogel's removal, but legislators were left today with mounting anxiety and a number of unanswered questions regarding the tracks's solvency and future viability.

On Wednesday, a partnership controlled by Vogel filed for bankruptcy protection, which halted a foreclosure sale on 872 acres of the Villages of Belmont, an undeveloped 1,200-acre tract planned for luxury homes in Prince George's County. The partnership failed to make a $219,000 interest payment in August.

As a result, some legislators fear the possibility of liens against the racetracks, a scenario made more grim by the fact the state has no other harness track. Freestate Raceway was sold earlier this year.

Sen. James C. Simpson (D-Charles) remarked on the cloud of uncertainty over the state's harness racing industry: "I'm not sure where we are, and I don't think anybody in this room knows where we are."

Ken Schertle, executive director of the racing commission, told legislators that racing officials began suspecting questionable business practices by Vogel almost one year ago after examining annual audits of Rosecroft, Delmarva and Freestate, whose racing dates Vogel had leased. Questioned by the commission, Vogel then deposited $750,000 into racetrack accounts. He had made an estimated $2 million worth of capital improvements to Rosecroft the previous fall, and the commission was appeased.

However, Schertle said Vogel removed about $2.7 million in track proceeds thereafter. Schertle said that figure was provided by a confidential source and substantiated by Murphy.

Schertle said he began interviewing racetrack creditors regarding payment schedules, and that until mid-1990 "there was no cause for concern." Beginning in July, he said, the number of delinquent payments grew and reports surfaced of tardy purse distributions to horse owners. When Vogel fell behind on a severance payment to former track president Bill Miller earlier this month, a court order diverted a Brinks Armored Car Co. truck delivering cash to Rosecroft for that night's races. The commission then intervened, Schertle said, its investigation beginning before Vogel was arrested.

"I don't want to be a voice of doom," said Sen. Edward Kasemeyer (D-Howard), committee chairman. "But I think we should plan for the worst case and know where we're going to go in the worst case. If not, we'd be derelict in our duties."