Sports Outside the Beltway

Rosecroft Raceway to discontinue live racing for up to 2 years

Another horseracing track in dire straits. From the Baltimore Sun-

CAMBRIDGE – The Maryland Racing Commission declared Rosecroft Raceway to be in an emergency situation yesterday and approved the track’s request to discontinue live racing for perhaps as long as two years while allowing it to simulcast races at the Prince George’s County facility.

Yesterday, at the commission’s monthly meeting, held at the off-track betting facility in Cambridge, the track’s new chief executive officer, Edward “Ted” Snell, and Kelley Rogers, president of Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., presented the track’s business plan for the next two years and asked for the declaration of emergency status in order to continue being open for simulcasting.

“Economically, it’s not feasible to have the type of purses necessary to run,” Snell said after the meeting. “Simulcasting [revenue] will allow us to meet our debts and pay our bills.”

Said commission chairman John Franzone: “This is another sad day for Maryland racing. Without Rosecroft – we need that [slots] referendum. We have to realize how close we are to losing everything. Without the referendum, there is no Rosecroft and thoroughbred racing will be what Charles Town was 20 years ago – racing donkeys. Almost all of our proud history is almost out the windows. All it will be is memories.”.

That is what I think horseracing in the United States will be in 50 years, memories. Besides Rosecroft in the state of Maryland, Laurel and Pimlico are having financial difficulty. Pimlico is host to one of the sports biggest races, The Preakness.

CEI, which closed the Rosecroft doors to live racing June28, has a yearly $5.9million obligation to the thoroughbred industry as part of the 15-year Cross-Breed Agreement that was signed two years ago and a $7.2million mortgage on the racetrack. Rosecroft management has seen its yearly betting handle fall from $110million in 2005 to a projected $80million this year, according to Thomas Cooke, president of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association.

Rosecroft will save $500,000 through the end of the year by not paying purses for live racing and is saving an additional $1million through salary cuts and layoffs, Cooke said. By discontinuing live racing, he said, the track should be in the black by “a couple hundred thousand” this year.

I think Cooke is being extremely optimistic. Businesses that cut hours, or events to save money, give less incentive at the same time for people to return as customers. It’s a catch 22, and I’ll be surprised if Rosecroft has any live non-stakes racing at sometime in the future.

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