The Maryland Racing Commission voted 6-1 Tuesday to block the purchase of Rosecroft Raceway by Northwind Racing LLC at a hearing at Pimlico, concluding the application was not in the best interests of Maryland racing.
The Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association, which owns Rosecroft, had voted to sell to Northwind in January. Northwind, a division of the Greenwood Racing, which owns Philadelphia Park, predicated its purchase on the right to offer thoroughbred simulcasting at Rosecroft without having to compensate Maryland thoroughbred interests.
For the past 11 years, the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico and Laurel Park, has operated under an 80-20 revenue-sharing agreement with Rosecroft, but that deal expired April 18 and was not renewed.
Since then, the thoroughbred tracks have shut down business at 6:15 p.m., preventing its horseplayers from making simulcast wagers at the track, while Rosecroft is in operation.
"Through last Saturday, we were down about $350,000 [in revenue since the end of the agreement]," Maryland Jockey Club President Joe De Francis said.
De Francis told the commission that allowing Rosecroft to offer the simulcast signals without remuneration would undermine thoroughbred racing in the state. He said it would cost the MJC $8 million.
"I don't see anybody lasting this way," said Rosecroft General Manager Tom Chuckas. " Everybody is bleeding. . . .
"From [Cloverleaf] and the race track's perspective, obviously we're disappointed. We're going to take a few steps back and look at the situation."
Northwind had promised to raise purses for harness racing at Rosecroft by $6.6 million in its first year of ownership.
De Francis said he would return to the bargaining table with Cloverleaf after the Preakness in an effort to come to a new revenue-sharing agreement.
"Hopefully, this decision [by the commission] will lay a foundation for the parties to reach a resolution," De Francis said.
In the wake of a U.S. District Court order allowing jockeys to wear advertisements in the Kentucky Derby, the Maryland Jockey Club has released a list of "house rules" for riders in the Preakness Stakes.
Jockeys will be permitted to wear advertising on their breeches and neckwear, as long as it does not conflict with current advertisers and sponsors of MJC or the Triple Crown, and must be approved at least 48 hours before the race. . . .
Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones galloped a mile and a half this morning at Philadelphia Park and will van to Pimlico on Wednesday.
"We are crabcake-bound on Wednesday," trainer John Servis said. "But our arrival time is completely up in the air right now. Whether we ship in the evening or late evening or at night will depend on the heat and weather." . . .
Trainer Nick Zito brought a surprise package to the Pimlico stakes barn this week: Champagne Stakes winner Birdstone, who finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby. Zito toyed with the idea of running Birdstone in the Preakness -- though not the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes for 3-year-olds on the undercard -- but decided against it.