TOC Among Interested Santa Anita Bidders

TOC Among Interested Santa Anita Bidders
Photo: Benoit
Santa Anita Park

The Thoroughbred Owners of California is among the interested bidders in Santa Anita Park, an organization official confirmed.

TOC president Drew Couto said June 5 that an expression of interest was submitted to Miller Buckfire and Co., the bankruptcy specialist firm handling the sale of the Magna Entertainment Corp. assets, prior to a May 27 deadline.

Couto said he couldn’t provide details about the filing and referred further inquiries to TOC chair Marsha Naify, who initially refused to say whether the TOC has been deemed a qualified bidder by Miller Buckfire. Naify didn’t return a subsequent phone call seeking comment.

Gregg Scoggins, national director for regulatory affairs for MEC, told the California Horse Racing Board definitive bids from qualified buyers are due July 31. Santa Anita, the jewel among MEC-owned tracks, is one of five approved for sale by the Delaware bankruptcy court handling the asset liquidation. MEC made its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing March 5.

Scoggins said that following an evaluation of the proposals, the best of the bids would be announced Aug. 8. Best offers on the various assets would be identified as “stalking horse bids,” and the other qualifiers would be given an opportunity to improve their bids.

The bankruptcy court has the final decision on whether a final bid will be accepted. A final auction on the properties could be held in September, if necessary, though that date could change, he said.

In response to a question, Scoggins said: “I am not aware of such a condition” requiring bidders to keep Santa Anita for horse racing. There is considerable trepidation in California that the track, built in 1934, could wind up in the hands of a development company. That has occurred in recent years with the now-defunct Bay Meadows in San Mateo, and with Hollywood Park.

Santa Anita was purchased by MEC chairman Frank Stronach for $126 million in 1998.

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