Penn National Gaming Inc. confirmed March 1 it has closed on the purchase of Rosecroft Raceway, a Maryland harness track it won in a bankruptcy auction.
PNGI was high bidder at more than $11 million. Another bidder who appealed the bidding process is to have his case heard in late March, according to published reports.
Rosecroft hasn’t offered live racing in almost two years, and last year shut down its full-card simulcast operation. The track, located south of Washington, D.C., lost Thoroughbred simulcasts in a dispute with the Maryland Jockey Club and horsemen after owner Cloverleaf failed to live up to the financial terms of its contract.
Rosecroft was a major off-track wagering site for Thoroughbred racing. PNGI will have to negotiate with the MJC and horsemen to restore Thoroughbred signals, and also will need a license from the Maryland Racing Commission to operate the track.
PNGI said it plans to “work with the legislature, local officials, and Maryland horsemen to develop a financially viable long-term model for operating the track, which could also serve as the basis for a solution for other economically challenged Maryland racing entities.”
It’s possible a short live meet could be offered in late fall.
The purchase comes as PNGI attempts to end its partnership with MI Developments in the Maryland Jockey Club. PNGI entered that agreement last year, but officials have acknowledged the chances of Laurel Park, one of the MJC tracks, getting slot machines are very slim.
Mike Rogers, vice president of racing and gaming for MID, said Feb. 28 “there is no definitive agreement” on ending the partnership. It remains to be seen whether MID will seek another partner in Laurel and Pimlico Race Course.
PNGI attempted to purchase Rosecroft a few years ago for much more money but backed away when the track wasn’t one of the five locations in the legislation that eventually authorized slots in Maryland.
“We are excited to again expand our portfolio of pari-mutuel facilities through the acquisition of Rosecroft Raceway,” PNGI president and chief executive officer Peter Carlino said in a statement. “This transaction is consistent with our long-term strategy to expand and diversify the company’s pari-mutuel racing operations in key markets to include facilities that can benefit from the addition of gaming operations.
“As the largest operator of pari-mutuel facilities in the country, and the host to an industry-high 1,300 live racing events annually, we are uniquely qualified and look forward to working with Rosecroft stakeholders to attempt to restore live racing to the facility following a nearly two-year absence.”
Rosecroft has a 53,000-square-foot grandstand and 96,000-square-foot clubhouse. In recent years under Cloverleaf, it has fallen into disrepair and will require capital improvements.
PNGI owns and operates Hollywood Casino at Perryville, the first slots parlor to open in Maryland.