Wicks Group Purchases <i>Daily Racing Form</i>

Daily Racing Form, the 110-year-old daily newspaper that covers Thoroughbred racing, has been purchased by The Wicks Group of Companies from an entity controlled by Alpine Equity Partners.

The transaction was completed May 24 in New York City. The price wasn't provided in a press release, but published reports have said it could be for as much as $60 million. Alpine purchased the paper for $40 million in 1998.

"This sale should only mean good things for the Form and our readers," Steven Crist, who will remain chairman and publisher, said in the release. "We think the change of financial backers will be transparent in the short term, allow us to grow and serve racing fans and the industry in the future, and remain an independent voice for news and information."

The sale was rumored in late April, but officials wouldn't comment at that time. Wicks Group is a Manhattan, N.Y.-based private equity firm that specializes in growing businesses in the media, communications, and information sectors. The DRF offices are located in Manhattan as well and will remain there.

Charlie Hayward, who will continue to serve as president and chief executive of DRF, said Alpine "realized a strong return on their investment, and now a new owner is in position to take the property to an even greater level, which is very exciting for all of us at the company."

The Wicks Group will be just the sixth owner of the paper since it debuted as a four-page broadsheet in Chicago in 1894. The property was owned by the Annenberg family for most of the 20th century before it was sold to Rupert Murdoch in 1990 and then K-III (later Primedia) in 1992.

Crist and Hayward put together an investment group headed by Alpine to buy the operation from Primedia. The Form also has satellite offices in Bristol, Pa.; Las Vegas, Nev.;Lexington, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, Wash.; and Toronto.