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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Racing Returns to Rosecroft? Not So Fast.......

The Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) has approved a conditional racing license to Rosecroft to resume racing.  The only problem is there is just one small wrinkle in the deal.  The MRC requires Penn National Gaming to guarantee any losses at the Prince George County oval for the next two years as they are concerned about the financial viability of Rosecroft..

Don't count on those twenty days of racing this year.  Based on PNG's own figures, they project a loss of $2.3 million over the next two years which doesn't include thoroughbred simulcast revenue as there is no agreement in place.  The feeling of Cloverleaf Standardbred Owner's Association President Thomas Cooke is these conditions are onerous and is a de facto denial of a license to Rosecroft.

I disagree.  Granted, these conditions may mean there will be no live racing this year at Rosecroft, but I suspect we will see racing at Rosecroft in 2012; probably the fifty-four days they planned.  I don't see PNG going into this venture knowing they are on the hook for $2.3 million (based on an average purse of $1,900), but once state mediation between thoroughbred and standardbred interests begin in October (assuming the two groups can't come up with their own revenue sharing agreement before then), an agreement will be reached as the ability for the Maryland Jockey Club to use slot revenue for operating expenses depends on an agreement being reached.  Assuming mediation comes up with a satisfactory agreement which minimizes projected losses, I imagine PNG would then guarantee the losses.

For me there is one concern.  PNG says they are committed to two years of racing; to lobby for a casino at Rosecroft,  If they don't get it and Rosecroft is not self supporting, they will likely cease operations at Rosecroft putting horsemen back into a familiar situation..  Maryland horsemen should support PNG, but they better be working on a plan B; otherwise they may be back to where they were last year.

Meanwhile on the Eastern Shore, Ocean Downs seems to be drawing big crowds with long lines at the windows.  How much they are wagering is unknown.  What is known is the lack of regular bathroom facilities for the apron crowd (there is no grandstand) is a disgrace; dependning on portable bathrooms you see at construction sites.  Being Ocean Downs has been traditionally a family destination, I can't see how many parents are going to want to deal with the 'port a johns'.  The MRC should be talking to Brickman at Ocean Downs and ask him what he plans to do about providing a more suitable solution for when nature calls.  It makes you wonder how long Rrickman plans to keep racing at the Berlin, MD oval.

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