Greyhound Group Sues MEC Over Multnomah

The Oregon Greyhound Association filed a $1-million lawsuit against Magna Entertainment Corp. Jan. 20, alleging breach of contract for the company's failure to renew its operating lease for Multnomah Greyhound Park and for canceling the 2005 dog racing season.

MEC attorney Scott Daruty told The Blood-Horse Jan. 25 the company would file a timely counterclaim to the charges.

"We believe the OGA was in breach of its obligations under the contract," Daruty said. "We sent them three written notices requesting that they perform under the agreement, and only after their refusal did we cancel the 2005 season."

Daruty said he couldn't comment specifically on the nature of the contractual non-performance, but said MEC's position would be "self-explanatory" once the counterclaim is public record.

"We didn't choose to initiate this litigation," Daruty said, "but we will answer it and we are confident in our position."

At issue is whether MEC is legally obligated to conduct Greyhound racing in 2005, and whether MEC is still responsible for funding OGA coffers in 2005, according to the Oregonian newspaper. Money is used to support a fund for injured racing dogs and adoption and breeding kennels for retired racers.

MEC had held a license to operate the Wood Village racetrack since 2001. Citing fierce competition from other gaming and lottery interests in Oregon, MEC has threatened to discontinue Thoroughbred racing at Portland Meadows unless it gets legislative help.

The OGA represents dog owners, kennel owners, and kennel workers. According to the newspaper, the lawsuit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, the same day the OGA made a request of the Oregon Racing Commission to consider holding races at alternative venues, something the commission subsequently denied.

A separate group, the Oregon Greyhound Breeders' Association, lost its bid to secure racing dates for 2005 when the commission denied the request citing an absence of proper venues.

Commission chairman Steve Walters said a restrictive covenant between MEC and Multnomah owner Art McFadden prohibits any other entities from holding races at Multnomah, the Oregonian reported.