Judge Denies Rosecroft Suit Over Simulcasts

A judge has denied a Maryland racetrack's request to restore simulcasts.

A Maryland harness track July 15 was denied a temporary restraining order to force TrackNet Media Group and 15 other racetracks to provide it with Thoroughbred signals.

Cloverleaf Enterprises, owner of Rosecroft Raceway, had filed a $20-million lawsuit against the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Maryland Horse Breeders Association, TrackNet Media, and other Thoroughbred tracks alleging breach of contract. Signals were pulled from the harness track after it refused to pay Maryland Thoroughbred interests millions of dollars under a 2006 simulcast contract that is to span 15 years.

The Maryland Racing Commission had withdrawn consent for Rosecroft to import Thoroughbred signals.

Cloverleaf filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June. According to published reports in Maryland, Cloverleaf has sold the track to Mark Vogel, a businessman who used to own Rosecroft, for about $10 million. Live racing is scheduled to return in January 2010.

“Cloverleaf  is attempting to use the United States Bankruptcy Court to do an end run around more than a decade of Maryland Racing Commission decisions, Attorney General’s opinions, court decisions, and legislative decisions that have all refused to allow Cloverleaf to take out-of-state Thoroughbred signals at Rosecroft without a compensation agreement with the Maryland Thoroughbred industry,” Maryland THA counsel Alan Foreman said in a statement. “Cloverleaf’s wounds are self-inflicted, and they are engaging in a reckless strategy that will not only do irreparable harm to what remains of the Standardbred industry in Maryland, but also t the entire Maryland racing industry.”

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Paul Mannes, after three days of testimony in the case, said Cloverleaf failed to provide enough evidence to support its claims. The Maryland THA in a release said it was revealed during testimony Cloverleaf, rather than honoring its contract with Thoroughbred interests, paid $500,000 in legal fees and $20,000 for season tickets to Washington Redskins games.

Under the simulcast agreement, Rosecroft must pay $5.9 million a year for the right to import Thoroughbred racing. It owes more than $2 million so far this year.