Developer Mark Vogel has asked for permission to use $25,000 from the proceeds of his two harness tracks to pay legal fees related to possible refinancing of mortgages on those tracks, state racing officials said yesterday.
In a 45-minute meeting with the Maryland Racing Commission early Wednesday evening, Vogel also proposed to sell a 25 percent interest in Rosecroft Raceway and Delmarva Downs to an unnamed investor, the sources said.
According to informed sources, Washington Redskins lineman Mark May is among potential investors, but Vogel would not comment on that other than to say no agreement has been completed.
A business associate of May said his investment group would analyze newly received financial reports on the tracks before proceeding. May, a standardbred owner and avid racegoer, could not be reached for comment.
The commission requested that Vogel submit a written proposal, which hadn't been filed as of yesterday.
Commission members said they would not decide on the request until it is received, but they did not rule out the possibility of addressing Vogel's motion at the monthly racing commission meeting next Wednesday.
Vogel's revelation that he intends to retain controlling interest of Rosecroft and Delmarva -- Maryland's only harness tracks -- followed several months of unsuccessful efforts to sell the tracks.
He said yesterday that a prospective minority partner could help him with an existing $11 million loan from First National Bank of Maryland should attempts to refinance fall through, a growing possibility given the weakening economy. Vogel is seeking a new loan of between $11.5 million and $15 million, one commissioner said.
Vogel needs racing commission approval to withdraw track funds following an agreement last fall in which he relinquished control of Rosecroft and Delmarva at the state's request. The move was designed to separate the tracks from Vogel's vast, and increasingly troubled, real estate holdings after the commission learned he used track funds for outside purposes.
"If I didn't take money out, the racetracks would be in better condition than they are now," Vogel said. "But people are being paid on time. The horsemen are being paid on time. . . . Obviously, I wouldn't have taken money out if I felt the real estate market was going to collapse the way it did. But I don't think the tracks are hurt now.
"The racetracks are my No. 1 concern, to be strong and viable, which they are. As long as the racetracks make money, I can tough it out in real estate."
Several racing commissioners said neither Vogel's legal problems nor his latest request should affect his ability to obtain operating licenses for 1991, a matter, they said, that hasn't been discussed.
Following his arrest Sept. 13, Vogel pleaded guilty to one count of cocaine possession. However, his record will be cleared within one year if he commits no other violations.
"We want to see harness racing continue in this state and continue to improve -- that's our basic approach to the entire situation," said racing commissioner Jack Mosner. "Everything we do is directed toward that goal."
Nevertheless, state racing officials said they are concerned about the possibility of First National Bank calling in Vogel's loan, and the potentially dire effects such an action could have on the industry and thousands of people it employs.
Special correspondent Jack Nowakowski contributed to this report.