Centaur Beats Out Greenwood, Magna For Rosecroft

In a compromise decision at the end of a long and difficult meeting, the owners of Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland voted to sell the Standardbred track to Centaur Inc., part owner of the Hoosier Park in Indiana and casinos in California and Colorado.

The vote occurred at 12:35 a.m. on Oct. 18 after a 10-hour meeting in which the two leading suitors for the track failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority, or 12 votes, from the 17-member board of directors of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association.

The 13-4 vote for Centaur came on the 10th ballot, after Magna Entertainment and Greenwood Racing had each mustered only seven votes in their favor. The three companies had made offers to buy the track, and each had gained supporters on the board.

Magna had offered the most money, a package of $68.4 million that included $12 million for the track and $56.4 million for purses over the next 10 years. But Magna's relationship with the Maryland Jockey Club apparently hurt its chances.

Magna has signed an agreement to become majority owner of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course. Joe De Francis, president of the MJC, will remain in charge of day-to-day operations. De Francis has had a rocky relationship with the Standardbred industry, and several board members said they did not want to be part of a company with De Francis.

Centaur's package totaled $55.4 million, including $10 million for Rosecroft and $45.4 million for purses over the next 10 years. Under the Centaur plan, Rosecroft would race 160 days per year for purses of about $62,000 per night. Rosecroft's purses currently are about $47,000 per night.